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Topics: Booklet "Radio Prague - 65 years on the air" Historic center of Prague - one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites pictured on this year's Radio Prague QSL cards, The maximum sentence under Czech law, preparations for RP summer schedule under way, some restrictions over the past years, listeners' visits to Radio Prague, quotes from: Sue, Swopan Chakroborty, Ian Atlee, Keith Block, Peter Skreap, Sheila Hughes, Roger L. Pearce

We have to tell listeners that the booklet about Radio Prague's history is finally out and available.

We talked about it in connection with our station's 65th anniversary last year and many listeners have been asking for it. Well, here's the good news: we'll be mailing it this week to all listeners who have asked for it - Thomas Kuca in Depew, NY, USA, Erik Koeie in Denmark, T.S.Trangmar, in West Sussex, United Kingdom and many others.

And I'm sure that list is going to get longer, now that the booklet is available. While supplies last, we'll be sending it, free of charge, to all listeners interested in Radio Prague's history.

But right now, let's get on, we mustn't forget to describe another site pictured on this year's Radio Prague QSL cards with which we confirm listeners' reception reports. This year's series, as regular listeners know, contains 8 pictures of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the territory of the Czech Republic.

We have been describing the various places shown on the cards in Mailbox over the past weeks, today we have come to the last in the series - it's the one with a photograph of Prague Castle and the part of town lying right by it, under the Hradcany hill where the castles is situated.

I have to confess that we have been putting this one off as long as possible, because I think it's the hardest to describe.

But Prague is the best known historic site in the Czech Republic

That's true, many foreigners who come to visit never leave the capital, they find so many interesting places right here, which is a shame, but that's what makes it difficult to describe historic Prague it's so huge. The whole historic center of Prague was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

Two other Czech cities were put on the UNESCO list at the same time - Cesky Krumlov and Telc, both of which we talked about on previous programs.

But that was much simpler than describing the historic center of Prague, which is so much bigger. The UNESCO heritage site in Prague includes the whole gothic center of the city, basically as it was built by Charles 4th in the 14th Century, and before. Along with Rome and Istanbul it is one of the biggest sites on the UNESCO heritage list and includes 1376 historic monuments.

Prague is lucky in having its historic center preserved, because it stayed pretty much intact after World War II. There was very little fighting here and while many other European cities were demolished during the war, Prague only lost a few buildings, either due to bombing or the fighting at the very end of the war.

Which is wonderful, of course, but also very demanding. Preserving all those sites is not only a financial problem, but technical as well - repairs have to be made in the same way, using the same material as was originally used, and many of the crafts needed have disappeared long ago. Every bit of construction work has to be approved. For example right now Charles Bridge needs some repairs and just how they should be made and what material should be used is a matter seriously discussed by experts on historic monuments - the construction experts will only have a say after those decisions have been made.

And when the Holiday Inn Hotel was built on a site near Charles Bridge, it had to meet an endless list of requirements, so that it would conform to the surrounding architecture, you can't change the looks of a World Heritage Site.

But it's worth it, Prague certainly is lovely, as many of our listeners who have visited keep confirming. Here, for example, is an e-mail only signed Sue

" I was up rooted from your area in 1941 and have longed for Prague ever since. Luckily we come for a visit every few years, and we are looking forward to coming again this May. I love all the sights and smells of Praha, and thank heavens I have not taken it for granted."

Which, I'm afraid many of us who live here, tend to do.

But I'd say that we here at Radio Prague are fully aware of our city, because we often talk about Prague's historic sites, and listeners know them from our programs or from our web-site.

So, let's turn to other listeners' questions. Swopan Chakroborty from Kolkata, India asks

"What is the maximum punishment for a convicted person in the Czech Republic? Can the president pardon a person who has been sentenced to death ?"

First of all, the death penalty does not exist in the Czech Republic. It was abolished soon after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. It had been misused in political trials during the Communist regime and people were pretty much united in backing the decision. Nowadays, with the crime rate increasing some say we should re-introduce it, but that seems pretty unlikely.

The highest sentence possible under Czech law is life imprisonment, but that is an exceptional sentence, used only in very exceptional cases and not many persons have been sentenced for life. Ordinarily Czech courts pass sentences of up to 25 years.

As for Presidential pardons, yes, the Head of State has the right to free somebody who has been sentenced by court, and not only that, he can also stop on-going court proceedings before a verdict has been passed. Presidential pardons are publicly announced and the President makes his decision after carefully studying the case.

Now, on to Radio matters. We are busy preparing our Summer schedule, which we'll be sending to listeners in a couple of weeks. And that answers a question from Ian Atlee

"Thank you for your broadcast schedule which expires at the end of March. Is it too early to ask to be put on Radio Prague's mailing list for the next schedule from April to September, as soon as it is printed?"

There is no need to ask for the new schedule If you have received the old one, you are obviously on our mailing list and we send the new schedules to all the addresses on that list. It's our way of keeping in touch with listeners, when we, sadly, had to discontinue our monitors' clubs.

Which many of our long-time listeners remember and miss. Keith Block from Ayrshire, Iowa, USA is one of them

"Will Radio Prague ever start another Monitor Club? I was very proud to have my certificate as member of the club. In order to be a member we had to send 10 reception reports and it took me a long time because I had a crap radio and it was hard to receive the signal. I suppose now with the computers and E-mail it would be too much work to organise the club." Keith, you're not the only one who fondly remembers those days. It's not the computers that have changed things, it's the fact that we don't have the resources we used to have. I remember the times when there were four people dealing with nothing else but listeners' letters in the North America Section alone.

As you know, we have had to cut down not only on staff but on programs, too. Instead of three English programs we have one and many different language programs had to be discontinued completely - to name just one example, the Swedish program that still write about. Just a couple of days ago we received a very nice card from Peter Skreap, in Tommerup, Denmark, who remembers our Swedish broadcasts. Peter also writes that he'll be visiting Prague soon and would like to visit us here, at Radio Prague, if that's possible.

That is, of course, possible and we do like to meet our listeners, when we have the chance, and the time. We do need to know in advance and agree on the time when they'll be coming, because we really are busy and there is only a very few of us.

By the way, listeners can see the staff of Radio Prague without having to come and visit, there's our picture on our station's web-site and in our program schedule, which Sheila Hughes from Morden in Surrey, England says she likes.

"The format of the schedule is excellent with its interesting word of introduction, clearly listed time and frequency information, together with a daily programme schedule. What a very nice picture of you all - I have to admit I had a closer look through my stamp collector's magnifying glass."

Well, thank you, but coming back to restrictions and cutting down on some of our work, for us the most important thing is that we are on the air and have good conditions for our work. In fact, we are luckier than many of our colleagues in some other countries, as Roger L. Pearce, Mesa, AZ, USA points out.

"Just looking over my old QSLs from back then I see station after station that has disappeared: Radio Norway International, Swiss Radio International, Radio Berlin International, the English service of Radio France International. It's good to still hear from you."

And it's always good to hear from you, our listeners. So, before signing off I'd like to remind you that our address is Radio Prague, 12099, Prague 2, Czech Republic

And our e-mail address: english@radio.cz

Authors: Dita Asiedu , Olga Szantová
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