Letter from Prague, final edition

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In the weekly Letter from Prague, our reporters have been sharing their views on issues of the day. But now, a day before Radio Prague shuts down its shortwave broadcasts, here comes the final edition of our regular rant about all things Czech.

Over the past ten years, Letter from Prague offered every Sunday a personal take on anything that had to do with life in the capital and beyond. There have been letters on food and drink, on immigrants and how they are treated, on crazy ideas Czechs came up with, on drugs, politics, sports and what not. There have been letters from Kabul and Nebraska, from the Czech “highway of love”, and one even described how its author got mugged in the streets of the capital.

In my time at Radio Prague, “Letter” was never a popular programme to do. Putting together a three-minute-long feature our listeners would find interesting and possibly even entertaining, takes a good writer with a good idea. I, just like dozens of my predecessors, have therefore many times escaped to weather and other such easy going topics. But the “Letter” gave Radio Prague a unique voice, and our listeners and readers got some idea of what life is like in the city.

The demise of Letter from Prague is just one of many changes Radio Prague is going through these days. With much smaller budget and fewer reporters, our Sunday shows will offer music, just like in the past when Radio Prague featured a programme entitled Music for Your Tape Recorder.

But where are all those tape recorders and tapes with music from Radio Prague? Wherever they might be, I’m afraid they will soon be joined by shortwave radios. We are getting many compassionate notes from our listeners who are sorry to see our shortwave broadcasts go. They sometimes say that in their country, the internet is not yet so widely accessible and they will no longer be able to listen to Radio Prague after our shortwave programming ends on Monday.

When I think of all the corruption that seems to have taken such deep roots in the Czech society, it has occurred to me that Radio Prague would need a very tiny fraction of the money that gets stolen each year to continue broadcasting on shortwave. But in my very personal opinion, Radio Prague needs to find a new voice and role in the coming weeks and months much more than keeping its shortwave broadcasts. Wish us luck, and join us again soon.