Did the CIA Hack the Airwaves?: How Western …
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Long before we had white-hat hackers toiling away on government PCs trying to find vulnerabilities, we had rock and roll.
OK, maybe there are a few steps missing in there, but a recent podcast, published by Crooked Media, touches on the possibility that the CIA used music to help Westernize the Soviet Union during the Cold War and infiltrate the culture.
The podcast, called “Wind of Change” tells the tumultuous story of a reporter, Patrick Radden Keefe, following up on a lead from a friend of his. His friend states that a former CIA agent may have mentioned that the CIA had tried its hand in… songwriting.
The allegation: The Scorpions’ quintessential early 90s hair band song of the same name was actually planted on Soviet airwaves by the CIA.
Of course, let’s roll back and talk for a second about the German rock band, the Scorpions (of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” fame). While they may be solely responsible for the hole in the ozone layer thanks to all that hairspray, they may possibly be forgiven for their environmental indiscretions for writing the anthem to the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Take a listen:
Have you been lured in with all this rock and roll?
The podcast definitely calls out the fact that this song is so deeply, incredibly cheesy (and a catchy earworm all the same).
In its telling, the reporter awkwardly recounts his interviews with his old friends and contacts and a serial storytelling format. And he’s sure to let us know that none of us will ever have the security clearance to find any sort of truth.
The story features extensive interviews with figures across the CIA as well as in the music business — an unlikely pairing but a fun journalistic endeavor for sure. Is it crazy to think that the CIA might have written a song.
“Propaganda doesn’t work if it looks like propaganda. There’s only so many hearts and minds you can change by dropping leaflets out of airplanes,” Keefe says in the first episode. For this reason, we can assume that the US government and the CIA may have had an interest in spreading a little bit of culture outside of its own borders.
If you’re looking for a podcast to talk about over the water cooler/Slack channel, or pocket for a post-social-distancing party, we totally recommend it.
DC Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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