On November 8, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy was elected as the 35th President of the United States. He officially took office on January 20, 1961. The Democratic party had replaced the Eisenhower Republicans in the White House. 

Cord Meyer, the CIA's liaison officer with RFE then, has written in his memoirs (Facing Reality) that because of alleged improprieties on the part of RFE in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. "When President Kennedy took office in Washington, I found that some of his key advisors were initially hostile to the radios for this reason."

A letter under President Kennedy's name was sent to W. B. Murphy, Chairman of the Board, Radio Free Europe Fund, on January 31, 1961, possibly to assuage any fears about the negative effect of a Democratic administration on Radio Free Europe. The letter read, in part:

For many years I have been convinced that Radio Free Europe is a most valuable undertaking and that it is important that the American people should contribute to its financial support.

The very fact that so many people here in the United States have been willing to give voluntarily to support RFE is proof to those on the other side of the Iron Curtain that they have not been forgotten and that they have here a reservoir of good will and of deep concern for their plight.

I congratulate you and your associates on the devotion and energy that you are private citizens have given to this endeavor and wish you success in your current fund-raising effort.

On March 1, 1961, President Kennedy sent an invitation to the National Chairman of the Radio Free Europe Fund that read:

I hope that you will be able to join me on Monday, March 6th at 2:45 in my White House office to discuss the future activities and funding of Radio Free Europe. I consider Radio Free Europe a vital link in our efforts to maintain effective communication with the satellite peoples and for out world policy. I hope very much that it will be possible for you to attend

Here is a photograph of prominent businessmen and members of the Radio Free Europe Fund, who attended the luncheon.

President Kennedy opened his press conference on March 8, 1961, with a prepared statement about Radio Free Europe

First, I want to say a word on behalf of Radio Free Europe, which is now making its annual appeal for support from all of our citizens. For more than ten years this enterprise has been reaching out to people in Europe, Eastern Europe, with truth and  devotion to liberty as its message. While this radio is at work, with listeners numbering in the millions, the competition of ideas in these countries is kept alive. 

The individual Americans, by giving to Radio Free Europe, may be sure that they are bringing a beacon of light into countries to which millions of us are tied by kinship, and whose hope for freedom all of us must share. This is a peaceful concern but a firm one. Radio Free Europe needs and deserves our generous help.

Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt visited the White House on March 13, 1961, and presented President Kennedy with a silver model of the Freedom Bell, with the inscription: "The President of the United States of America John Fitzgerald Kennedy as a sign of cordial ties March 1961 Willy Brandt Ruling Burgermeister from Berlin."

On February 7, 1962, from 12:00 to 12;17 pm, President Kennedy met with another group of combined business leaders, RFE president John Richardson, Jr. and Leslie Shoup, president of the Radio Free Europe Fund, to "discuss activities of Radio Free Europe."

Kennedy continued the tradition of lunches for top contributors to the Radio Free Europe Fund, when on October 25, 1963, he hosted a luncheon for his top administration officials, business leaders, and the Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Europe Fund leadership.

The photograph above, courtesy of RFE/RL. is that of then President-elect Kennedy sending Christmas wishes to Eastern Europe via RFE in December 1960.


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