This week: Jara Cimrman and the Greatest Czech programme; Radio Prague's broadcasts on Saturday, February 19th; shortwave reception in the Philippines. Listeners quoted: David Eldridge, UK; Henry L. Umadhay, Philippines; Valerien, France.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague's weekly feedback programme. Thank you very much for all of your letters and emails and - of course - for your answers to our monthly competition question. February is nearly over but you still have one more day to send us your answers before we draw the lucky winner who will get a CD from us. So please stay tuned because we will repeat the competition question at the end of this Mailbox programme.

But first let's begin with another contest. The public service Czech Television is running a Czech version of the BBC's programme "Great Britons". In a poll, Czechs were asked to send their nominations for the Greatest Czech ever by mobile phone text messages or by email. Reportedly, Czechs sent in the most votes for Jara Cimrman, actually a fictional character, created in the late 1960s by two Czech writers and comedians. But the "19th-century Czech genius" was disqualified as contest organisers had stipulated that the poll was only open to real people. Almost 40,000 people signed a petition demanding that Czech Television reverse its decision to exclude Mr Cimrman from the poll - but without success.

In response to Jara Cimrman's unofficial victory, our regular listener David Eldridge from the UK wrote:

"Something favourable often comes out of your country. I was pleased to hear that Jara Cimrman won the first round of the "Greatest Czech of All Time" competition. A piece of advice that was given by a manager in my early working years, which I have never forgotten but, alas, not always complied with was "never compare people." I can often trace errors in my outlook to ignoring that advice. For that reason, I don't like comparison polls such as "The Greatest Czech of All Time." I sense many Czechs must have the same outlook."

Radio Prague also broadcast a "profile" of Jara Cimrman in last week's Czechs in History. Those of you who missed it can still find it on our website www.radio.cz both in sound and text.

In another, unrelated e-mail sent to us last Saturday, the same David Eldridge, wrote:

"Just to let you know your short-wave transmissions were not split this evening on the first two transmissions to Northwest Europe. 1700 and 1800 UTC transmissions were both your traditional programmes. However, the web file timed 1400 was OK."

We apologise for the irregularity which was caused by technical problems with Czech Radio's broadcasting software, as a result of which our second Saturday programme, Insight Central Europe, was not broadcast at 1800 UTC. But Radio Prague may count itself lucky to only have a programme misplaced - other stations had whole sound files swallowed by the software fault.

Staying with broadcasting matters, another of Radio Prague's regular listeners, Henry L. Umadhay from the Philippines, sent us this e-mail:

"I am a regular listener but for quite some time I was not able to hear your broadcasts as I could not hear even a small signal from your station using my Grundig YB 400 receiver. I don't know what the problem was. Now I can hear you loud and clear."

I forwarded the query to Czech Radio's shortwave expert, Olda Cip, and this is his explanation:

"The Philippines and the neighbouring regions of South and East Asia are not considered as main target areas for shortwave transmissions of Radio Prague. In addition, the spectrum of frequencies that we are able to use especially during the evening and night hours is limited in winter on the Northern hemisphere, as a result of the present decreasing level of solar activity. However, the short-term prospect for shortwave propagation on the Central Europe-to-Philippines transmission circuit is good, and the quality of reception on 9430 kHz at 2100 UTC should improve already during March. In reality, conditions should be even better at 1800 UTC on 9415 kHz since the propagation window starts to open earlier; but naturally I know that this is in the middle of the night your local time."

Once again, we are interested in all aspects of reception at your location, including information on possible mutual interference and so on. So if you have any questions regarding reception or times and frequencies, please do not hesitate to ask.

And the next e-mail came from a 19-year-old young Frenchman called Valerien. He does not have to worry about reception as he listens to Radio Prague on the Internet.

"Ahoj, I am French boy who is only 19 and take a real interest in the Czech Republic, the culture and the customs of this country. Almost every day I like to read your special articles like ABC or Magazine, and at the same time I listen to the recording, so it's twice interesting and useful for me, because I can improve my English, and also my Czech even if I am just a beginner in this language. I went to Prague twice and I found this city wonderful, one of the most wonderful in Europe for me. Thank you for your work and I just hope that you will continue as long as possible."

Thank you very much for those kind words, Valerien, and please keep listening.


But now, as promised, it's time to repeat February's competition question.

"What is today the 6th tallest building in the Czech Republic was the tallest building in Czechoslovakia before the Second World War, with its 17 floors and 77.5 metres. It was built in 1938, as an administrative building for a shoe-making company that had outlets in many corners of the world and a total of 67,000 employees around the world. The son of the founder and now retired head of the family-run business turned 90 last September having lived mostly in Canada for much of his life. We'd like you to tell us his name." (It happens to be the same as the name of the founder of the shoe-making company.)

Don't forget that your answers have only one day to reach us at English@radio.cz. That's also the address for your questions and comments. If you prefer regular mail, the address is Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, Czech Republic. Till next week bye-bye and thanks for listening.