When commuters spin the radio dial as they drive through Kansas City, Mo., these days, between the strains of classic rock and country hits they can tune in to something unexpected: Russian agitprop.
In January, Radio Sputnik, a propaganda arm of the Russian government, started broadcasting on three Kansas City-area radio stations during prime drive times, even sharing one frequency with a station rooted in the city’s historic jazz district.
“Who needs a ridiculous Red Dawn invasion,” a participant in one online forum wrote about the new broadcasts. “Your overlord, Mr. Putin, will be addressing you soon, so it’s best to prepare now,” another commenter wrote, referring to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
In the United States, talk radio on Sputnik covers the political spectrum from right to left, but the constant backbeat is that America is damaged goods.
Sputnik’s American hosts follow a standard talk radio format, riffing on the day’s headlines and bantering with guests and callers. They find much to dislike in America, from the reporting on the coronavirus epidemic to the impeachment of President Trump, and they play on internal divisions as well.
On a recent show, one host started by saying he was broadcasting “live from Washington, D.C., capital of the divided states of America.”