16-05-2004

In this week's edition of Mailbox: Lenka Reinerova - author and honorary Prague citizen, and Roger Chambers - a Radio Prague listener who has been tuning in since the late 1960s.

Lenka Reinerova, photo: CTKLenka Reinerova, photo: CTK Before we introduce our guest, a Radio Prague listener who has been tuning in for over thirty years, let's answer a quick question from a listener in Spain. Mr Hank Monay writes:

"I just finished reading a book called "The Café above Prague" written by Lenka Reinerova. Was she Czech or Austrian? Her book was superb!"

Lenka Reinerova is still alive and she is definitely Czech, although she did write in German because that was her 'mother tongue', she says. She was born in the district of Karlin in Prague when the Czech lands were still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - on May 17, 1916. You're actually asking about her, Mr Monay, just when she's celebrating her 88th birthday. Some of you may actually recall an edition of our discontinued mini-feature Witness, in which she remembers the day she first saw the staircase and corridor of the prison she was held in for fifteen months. Some two months after we broadcast the interview, in October 2002, Mrs Reinerova was made an honorary citizen of Prague for her contribution to the enrichment of Czech, German, and Jewish culture in Prague.

It's time now to introduce Roger Chambers, who is from Utica, USA, and has been listening to Radio Prague since the late 1960s. David Vaughan spoke to Mr Chambers in the studio earlier and asked him first, what he remembered of Radio Prague's broadcasts thirty years ago...

"I remember the Music for your Tape Recorder programme and the cultural programmes - how Easter is celebrated, Czech food, the different traditions around holidays. I also remember a contest in 1967 or 1968 on what life would be like in 2000. I sent in a submission for that and in return I got a packet of twenty or thirty Czech cover stamps and a recording of the Moldau, and a Supraphon 33 record..."

...and do you still treasure them?

"Oh yes, very much so."

Of course, in those days Radio Prague was broadcasting a lot of political propaganda but there was a lot more to the programme than just that.

"Yes, for the most part, compared to a lot of the Eastern European broadcasters at the time, Radio Prague had five or seven minutes of news and a commentary and those really seemed to be pretty much the same - whether it was from Sofia, Romania, or Moscow. But after that, they really managed to put out some really interesting cultural and music programmes than a lot of the other Eastern European broadcasters that focused more on just boring political comment."

Anyway, we're now nearly fifteen years down the line since the fall of Communism and you're still listening. Why is that?

"I haven't necessarily listened all the time or every week during that time but yes, I still do listen. I think they still managed to put out very good, informative, and interesting programmes on culture, Czech society, and the Czechs' role in the new Europe..."

And do you manage to get any idea of the strange and complex world of Czech politics or do you try and keep away from that?

"There doesn't really seem to be a whole lot about Czech politics and in some respects I wish there was maybe a bit more. I think the programmes from Radio Prague have almost always really been more of an emphasis on the culture and the society as a whole and the political aspects have been perhaps given third or fourth place."

I will bare that in mind. How is it listening to us on the East Coast of the United States, do you find reception generally quite good?

"It's not necessarily totally reliable. Typically, five days out of the week I would get a reliable signal."

And do you listen on the Internet as well?

"I listen on the Internet occasionally but for the most part I still prefer, and I think most people actually do although it is a controversial issue, to listen on the radio. I think we're sort of in an era where there are so many different aspects to broadcasting that I don't think any one is going to be the complete answer. I think there's a place for shortwave, for Internet, for re-broadcasts like the overnight in Canada or the WRN, but I would hope that the short wave is here for a long time to come."

Mr Chambers mentioned he'd like to see more politics featured in our programmes - please let us know whether you share that view.

 

And the entries to our annual competition are coming in daily, please keep on writing... it's been nice to read about the different ways Czech music has inspired and moved listeners around the world. If you have not entered the competition yet, it's not too late to send us a few lines on what Czech music means to you. But I must note that a few more than just five or six lines would be appreciated. The main prize will be a week in Prague and there'll also be a number of attractive runner-up prizes. You have until June 15 to get your answers to us.

And we've also got a smaller monthly competition. The question is: "May 12th marks the 120th anniversary of the death of the famous Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. Where was he buried?"

Send your answers to the Radio Prague English Section, 120 99 Prague 2, the Czech Republic or by e-mail to english@radio.cz. You have until June 8 to get your answers to us.

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