During the EU referendum debate in Britain the presence of so-called “migrant” workers from Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, was one of the central topics. But we heard rather less about the tens of thousands of Czechs, Slovaks and, above all, Poles, who came to Britain nearly eighty years ago during World War II. In today’s language they might also be categorized as migrants, quite possibly illegal migrants, given the many complex paths that led them to Britain. They came to fight in the British armed forces and their contribution
In the first part of this series two weeks ago, we went back to 1932 with a recording of memories of Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk, the American wife of Czechoslovakia’s first president. A year later the political landscape of Europe and changed completely. Hitler had come to power in Germany, and suddenly Czechoslovakia’s position in Europe seemed perilous. It was in this atmosphere that Radio Prague was launched as the international service of Czechoslovak Radio in 1936. The aim was to counter German propaganda and remind the western democracies
There is a magic about radio; it preserves moments in time, fragments of conversation from the past, and as long as these fragments are kept in an archive somewhere, they enable us to travel in time. As Radio Prague celebrates its 80th birthday, I shall be taking us through some of the episodes that make up our history. I’ll be helped by Czech Radio’s impressive and extensive archives and by students in my History of Journalism course at Prague’s Anglo-American University.
One of the familiar voices that will forever be associated with Czechoslovak Radio belongs to Miloslav Disman, who worked here between 1930 and 1973, and who changed the style of radio broadcasting in this country, with such informal programmes as Okénko (which you just heard a snippet of), and through a radio children’s ensemble, which bears his name to this day.
A memorial ceremony was held at Czech Radio’s Prague headquarters on Thursday to mark the start of the Prague uprising against years of Nazi oppression at the end of the Second World War. It was a radio broadcast which sparked the rising and the building became the focus for some of the fiercest fighting over the following days in the capital and surrounding countryside.
Vladimír Fišer, the legendary radio announcer who in 1968 announced the news of the Russian-led invasion of Czechoslovakia has died at the age of 81. A popular radio personality Fišer excelled as a talk show host, a presenter of radio plays and a dubber artist, but in the minds of the Czech people he will always be remembered at “the voice of 1968”.
This Friday marks the 47th anniversary of invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led troops in 1968, which crushed the short-lived Prague Spring reform movement and brought in political and moral decline which lasted until the late 1980’s. On Friday, the event was commemorated at a traditional ceremony in front of the Czech Radio building, which bore witness to one of the most brutal clashes between civilian protesters and the occupying forces.
We have often drawn from Czech Radio’s sound archives in our broadcasts, as they make up one of the richest radio archives in the world, offering insight into the history of this country going back well over eighty years. In the last four years I have been working with journalism students from the Anglo-American University in Prague to explore some of the recordings lying long forgotten in the archives. This year a group of my students came across a moving and unusual – even experimental – drama documentary made in 1967 by the English Section of
The name Jan Valeška will be familiar to very long-term listeners of Radio Prague. After a stint at the station’s African service that began in the early 1970s, he returned to head the English department in the initial years after the Velvet Revolution. Valeška subsequently worked as a translator and two years ago published a huge dictionary of English phrasal verbs, as in act on, act up, act out, etc. Before we discussed the book, which was three decades in the making, I first asked him what language Radio Prague’s erstwhile African section broadcast
This spring I worked on a project to explore the Czech Radio archives with a group of international undergraduate students, studying at the Anglo-American University in Prague. This followed up on a similar project last year to mark the radio’s 90th birthday. Czech Radio has one of the biggest radio archives anywhere in the world, going way back to the late 1920s and it includes several hundred recordings in English, most of them from the radio’s international broadcasts. Working in groups, the students spent time delving into the archives and they
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