21-08-2005

This week in Mailbox: opinions on the role of international radio; wrongly displayed Czech characters on Radio Prague's website; August competition question. Listeners quoted: Philip Stiff, Canada; Mary Kretschman, US; David Eldridge, UK.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox. After two weeks I'm back again and thanks very much to Dita Asiedu for standing in for me while I was away.

Thank you very much for the e-mails and letters that keep arriving in Radio Prague's letterbox. Let's start off with this one, sent in by Philip Stiff from Winnipeg, Manitoba in central Canada. He is writing in response to our request for comments on the role of international broadcasting.

"I used to listen to your broadcasts on shortwave but to be honest, reception on shortwave is very difficult in my area not just for Radio Prague but for shortwave in general. Recently however I bought one of these brand new compact digital "Sirius satellite radio" receivers that I can use in my home and my car. So now I can listen to your broadcasts very reliably since they come in very well on the World Radio Network channel on Sirius directly from the orbiting satellites."

And Philip Stiff goes on to say:

"I think that international broadcasters should focus more on culture and arts of their respective country rather than hard news. This is usually the type of programming I prefer the most. I think international broadcasters need to resist the temptation to go "internet only" to reduce their short-term costs. Internet radio isn't REAL radio in my mind, it's too cumbersome and it just doesn't "feel" like radio to me. Real radio is compact and portable, this is why technologies like shortwave and now Sirius/XM/Worldspace satellite radio should be used to make your broadcasts as widely available as possible."

Thank you very much for that comment and please keep them coming. We are always interested to know what you think of the role of international radio, the content of Radio Prague's broadcasts or the quality of reception in your area.

Now back to a topic we've spoken of a couple of times in the past. In July we answered a question from our listener Mary Kretschman who noticed that the Czech characters in our ABC of Czech series on the internet were not displaying properly. Soon after that we got an e-mail from our faithful listener David Eldridge from the UK, backing up Mary Kretschman's comments about Czech characters on ABC.

I passed those comments on to our internet department and they finally worked out that it was actually me who was responsible for the wrongly displayed characters. Basically, the ABC pages have different settings than all the other English pages and therefore (due to some technical reasons which I don't understand) if they are later edited, the settings get changed. I actually did some minor edits in a few earlier programmes and by doing so I disrupted something in the settings so the Czech characters turned into different signs of the alphabet. But everything has now been put right and it shouldn't happen again. I sincerely apologise to everyone for any inconvenience when reading our ABC programme and thank you, Mary Kretschman and David Eldridge, for alerting us to the problem.

And as a matter of fact, Mr Eldridge, who's been listening to Radio Prague since the 1960s, actually paid us a visit here in Prague earlier this week and we used the opportunity to ask him a few questions, including how he combines shortwave listening and listening on the internet.

"I prefer the shortwave broadcast because it puts me to a routine that I want to be put into, to have set aside a certain time each day, just to sit down, have a meal and listen to the shortwave broadcast at that particular time. Reception in Britain is usually quite good.

"That's the way I prefer, though I am increasingly coming round to listen to the internet at times I haven't been able to hear the broadcasts - like at the moment, being in Prague, I shall have to go home and listen to the last few days on the internet -, and secondly, at times when reception is bad, which is about ten percent of the time, or a little bit less, then it is useful to be able to switch to the internet live broadcasts and listen to the programmes in clarity.

"I hope that you continue on shortwave, I think that's important - not for me so much but, certainly, it's important for many of your listeners, I'm sure, where the internet is not so readily available. I think it's important."

And if you are interested in hearing what Mr Eldridge, who first tuned in to a Radio Prague broadcast in 1964, thinks of our broadcasts now and the changes in the Czech Republic since 1989, you can hear the full interview in one of our future One on One programmes.

 

And we only have enough time left for our competition question for the month of August.

"Our mystery man for August was born in 1943 in the Canary Islands to a Spanish mother and a Czech father. Reportedly he was raised on a banana plantation. He began by studying architecture and literature but abandoned his studies after just a year and moved to Paris in 1968. He moved to London two years later where he worked briefly as a photographer and then to New York where he dedicated himself to shoe design. Since the 1970s his shoes have been synonymous with high glamour and are sought after by many famous people, from celebrities to royalty."

Please send your answers to us by the end of August to the usual address, Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or English@radio.cz. Till next week, thanks for listening.

21-08-2005