18-05-2008

Welcome to Mailbox on this very special day for Czech Radio. Eighty-five years ago today, on May 18, 1923, regular radio broadcasts began in Czechoslovakia from a tent in Prague-Kbely. We have a special programme dedicated to the anniversary which is to follow shortly.

In the meantime, I hope you have your pens or keyboards ready because today you have a unique chance to obtain a limited-edition QSL card from Radio Prague if you send us a reception report from today’s programme. We are keen to know where and how you listen to Radio Prague and what the reception in your area is like. Please remember to include your postal address, so we can verify your report with the QSL card. You can send it by post to Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, by e-mail to english@radio.cz or you can use our online form at www.radio.cz and your reception report will reach us instantly.

As a number of your questions in recent weeks have concerned Czech Radio itself, why not dedicate today’s Mailbox to them:

K. M. Fowler, Jr. from the United States sent us this e-mail:

“I have read many times about the valuable collection and library of radio recordings archived at Czech Radio. If this collection only exists on old magnetic tape in analog format, it is slowly deteriorating due to time effects on magnetic media. Has any consideration been given to the idea of transferring this important historic collection into digital format and storing it in a different geographic location for permanent preservation and safe-keeping? It would be a huge and expensive effort, but perhaps you could enlist students to work on it as a summer project, or get some sort of financial grant to help with it. Perhaps people in the Czech recording industry would help sponsor the project, or even your government.”

Czech Radio, of course, cherishes its priceless archives whose contents are part of the European heritage. They contain not only recordings but also written documents and musical scores. A digitisation project was launched in 2003 which is expected to take twenty years and the overall cost is estimated at 200 million crowns. It is quite a task as there are around 50 million pages of written documents and some quarter of a million hours worth of sound on tape, vinyl records and CDs etc.

Debakamal Hazarika from Assam, India, has this simple question:

“What is the history of the Czech Republic’s broadcast industry?”

As we said, on this very day Czech Radio is exactly 85 years old and you will hear more shortly from David Vaughan. Trial television broadcasts were launched 55 years ago, on May 1st, 1953 in Prague. The following year the broadcasts became regular. Initially, Czechoslovak Television broadcast only two to three days a week. Fifty years ago, in 1958, it started broadcasting programmes every day.

Shamim Ahmed Sonju, from the DX Club from Rangpur, Bangladesh would like to know:

“How many reporters are involved with Radio Prague around the world?”

Radio Prague as such has no foreign correspondents as its primary goal is to broadcast about events happening in the Czech Republic. But Czech Radio –which Radio Prague is a part of – has staff correspondents based in the United States, Germany, the Middle East, China, Brussels, France, Poland, the Balkans, Slovakia and Russia and has regular collaborators in UK, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Australia and Norway.

In the meantime, I would like to thank you for your views that have been coming in on the controversial design for the new National Library building in Prague by Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický. Please keep them coming, and as I promised last week, we will dedicate a future Mailbox to the topic. The same goes for your favourite Czech dishes or even recipes – please share them with us and we will read your letters on the air.

 

As we are running out of time, I should repeat Radio Prague’s quiz question for this month.

We would like you to tell us the name of the first ever Czech to win an Olympic medal. Here’s a clue: it was at the 1900 Paris Olympics and he competed in the same discipline as Olga Fikotová, our April mystery lady.

Please note that there was another medallist from this country who, however, was not a member of the Czech Olympic delegation. But either name qualifies as a correct answer. The address for your answers as well as reception reports is english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague.

18-05-2008