In essence, what is known as “Paris Radio Station” was a state French station for cultural and political propaganda, with a squad made up mostly of Spaniards, many from the Spanish Republican exiles. A station that was a real window of freedom for many Spanish people during the difficult and dark years of Franco’s regime. Furthermore, just as Franco's dictatorship was adapted to the times without changing in essence, “Paris Radio Station” went through various stages throughout its history, and it had its backgrounds. A few steps and a history that must be taken into account when assessing its work in perspective.
The backgrounds of “Paris Radio Station” are set in the moments prior to the Second World War, with the creation of the Secretariat-General for Information, in France, in 1939, from which the state's propaganda broadcasts in foreign languages were developed, mainly aimed at Germany, Italy and Latin America. A valuable set of partners participated in these broadcasts, such as Francisco Diaz Roncero, Jean Camp, María Teresa León and Rafael Alberti, among many others. This propaganda initiative was short-lived. The defeat of France by Germany caused the staff disaffected to the Vichy’s regime to be purged, and the meaning of the propaganda issued changed dramatically. It became a station of the Third Reich.
It was with the German defeat in France that “Paris Radio Station” restarted itself, dependent on the RTF (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française), and whose broadcasting was, indeed, started in Toulouse. Under the direction of Chistian Ozanne, in 1945, a new team was made up, in which the exiled Spanish Republicans were a clear majority. During this stage, there were two relevant collaborations: those of "Father Olaso" and Salvador de Madariaga. The real name of "Father Olaso" was Albert Onaindia, a Basque exiled clergyman who escaped from the shooting of dissident priests, carried out by the Franco's side. From London, his place of residence, he sent his sermons to “Paris Radio Station”. These were read by the radio station announcers, and posed a devastating critique of the Regime. It is said that he even alert threatened unsubmissive resistance from the radio, since he was constantly informed of what happened in Spain. As for Salvador de Madariaga, a regular contributor to the BBC, he lived in Oxford, and from there, he sent to “Paris Radio Station” speeches, usually recorded on tape and of more direct political content. Another key program during the same period was, among many others, "The Café Duponi Talks" by the exiled journalist Francisco Diaz Roncero, where he freely spoke, with great profusion and irony on the the Franco’s regime political issues.
Moreover, consider that the primary purpose of those responsible for the radio station was -in relation to Spain- to disseminate the maximum free information with no party affiliation or dependence of institutional agencies in exile, something considered essential to its survival. Something that does not mean that there were good relationships between the station and the representatives of these institutions (many of them employees of the radio station itself), nor that many of the members of “Paris Radio Station” were members of the PCE and other lefty organizations. However, if the overall trend was essentially against Franco’s ideology, they always sought the ideals of democracy and freedom promoted by France.
Against all this, the Franco’s government protests were happening. And though the protests were ignored by the French government over the 40's, the Franco-Spanish relations were re-established from 1951, which generated a series of negotiations in which, whereas Madrid demanded the repression of the Spanish exile Republicans and punishment of those media critical of the regime, Paris did the same related to the Franco’s politics favourable to the FLN in the Algerian conflict. In the end, protests and diplomatic pressure of the Franco’s government would pay off, which, among other things, caused the removal of the collaborations of “Father Olaso” and Salvador de Madariaga in 1957. Interestingly, RTF broadcasting for countries of the orbit of the Soviet Union knew no diplomatic conflicts, despite an aggressive anti-communist line similar to the famous “Free Europe Radio”, funded by the CIA.
That same year, 1957, André Camp, son of Jean Camp and a member of the station since its inception, took over as broadcasting director, finally set in Paris. And while there were attempts to control the station by the French authorities, especially with the proclamation of the 5th Republic, “Paris Radio Station” devised means to evade resources.
The Franco-Spanish relationship reached the highest State level with De Gaulle. However, there were also counterparts, beginning a nationalist policy with him, aimed at promoting the French model in its entirety, hence the station gets plenty of funding as a means of propaganda. Transmissions were established for Spain in other national languages, Euskera, Galician and Catalan. Broadcasts to Latin America were reinstated. It was assisted by great figures of the Republican exile of high cultural and political relevance. Also, the development of programs and reports were directly made from within Spain, and theatre performances and cultural events of all kinds were organized, all of them broadcasted from the capital. This, coinciding in time with the process of the 60’s Spanish emigration to Europe -France, Switzerland and Germany as major places of destination -and the final opening of Spain to tourism, as a part of the development policy carried out by the Regime. Elements to which “Paris Radio Station” was not be unaware of and would spend part of its efforts.
However, after the events of May 68, the situation of the station changed, going through several difficulties. In 1969, Jean Supervielle replaced André Camp as director. There were serious budget cuts and the Latin American editions were removed, as well as the Galician, Euskera and Catalan ones. On the other hand, a new generation of non-exiled young journalists -who could freely travel between France and Spain- began gradually to collaborate. During this stage, “Paris Radio Station” remained the voice of opposition, which also reported on issues and events in Spain, silenced by the authorities. A situation that gradually evolved after the death of Franco, when the process of press and radio liberalization in Spain began to be effective and the radio was reaching greater freedom. Since then, “Paris Radio Station” ceased to be the voice of opposition, to become a European-style broadcaster, which showed, not what they thought about Spanish exiles, but how they saw Spain from France and Europe with a very marked cultural component, which followed closely and reported the development of new social movements that would still take longer to settle in our country. It was already past.