Mailbox

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

Today's Mailbox includes: Topics: Booklet about the history of Radio Prague now available New program about Czech language on RP as of April Why RP does not have a special DX program Monument to Jan Palach and Jan Zajic on Prague's Wenceslas Square Czech National Anthem Quotes from:Jonathan Murphy, Michael Stevenson, Chris Holetz, Saito Koichi, Michael Watling, Joshua Liberman, Kelly

Today's Mailbox is presented by Olga Szantova and Dita Asiedu Yes, welcome to Mailbox and as usual we'll be starting right off with listeners' letters, as we have already talked about all the QSL cards in this year's series in previous programs.

That's right, and just a brief reminder that there are 8 of them this year and they feature 8 of the 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the territory of the Czech Republic. So, just 8 reception reports this year and you'll have the whole series.

Or else, if you have access to the Internet, you can look them up on our web-site, that's www.radio.cz/english. And that's where you can also find the information on each of the sites.

A number of listeners have written that they appreciate the information about the cards they have received, for example Jonathan Murphy, from Mallow in County Cork, Ireland

"Many thanks for telling us the story of St. John of Nepomuk, it always adds to the QSL cards when you know a little of the history."

And much along the same line, here is a letter from New South Wales, Australia, from Michael Stevenson:

"I am so very pleased that you have been featuring these QSL cards on the Letterbox program and talking more about the sites that the photos show. I have been enjoying this very much. It teaches me a little bit more about the Czech Republic and the places to visit when I can finally afford to come and see your country."

Many listeners write about coming to visit and in order to understand our country better, many of them would like to learn a bit of Czech. Chris Holetz e-mails:

"I know a little of your language but would love to learn more. Can you suggest any programs?"

As old-time listeners to Radio Prague know, on and off, we have had some programs about the Czech language. It's always difficult to find the right form, we can't possibly have courses in the true sense of the word. You can find those on the internet, for example.

And Czech is taught in a number of places in Britain, in the United States and elsewhere. For example, I know there is a very good and intensive course at the university of Texas in Austin, or at London University, and many other places, but that's for people who really want to learn the language.

Which most of our listeners don't, they'd just like to know more about it. And that's exactly what they'll have a chance to do beginning with April, when our Summer schedule starts. Pavla Horakova is preparing a special weekly program starting April 3rd. And here is Pavla to tell you more about it: Lots of luck with the new program, Pavla, I'm sure it's going to be just as popular as the Czech language programs we had in the past.

So, that's one change in our schedule many listeners will welcome, and there will be some other changes as well, we'll talk about them as we come nearer to the Summer schedule.

But I'm afraid we won't be able to meet all listeners' requests, such as the one expressed by Saito Koichi from Hong Kong

"Isn't there any DX program on Radio Prague. It's regrettable that you do not have a program for people interested in short wave radio."

I'm sorry, Saito, but I'm afraid we can't squeeze a DX program into our tight schedule. You can't include everything in a half an hour program. We try to make up for it in Mailbox, where we do deal with short wave listening, but obviously not often enough for some listeners. It used to be different when we had more time on the air, and I remember that it used to be a popular program, but I'm afraid we've had to drop it like we did programs like Stamp Corner, the Youth program and so on.

And talking about the history of Radio Prague, Michael Watling, who lives in Dorset, England writes:

"My connection with you goes back to 1959 and I have several mementoes from Radio Prague of that era. Do you have a booklet about Radio Prague available?"

Yes, as of last week, we do. The booklet about the 65 years of Radio Prague, as you know, we celebrated our 65th anniversary last year, well, the booklet is now available and we're sending it, free of charge, to listeners, who ask for it.

Just a word of apology on that point. We originally promised the booklet for January, and listeners have been wondering whether we'd forgotten. Well, we haven't, it just took the printers longer than we expected. But it's really out now and actually looks very well, as I hope those of you who get it will confirm.

Alright, and on we go to another e-mail request. Joshua Liberman, a photographer based in Los Angeles, California, USA visited Prague last year and says

"I found myself particularly taken with the people and the wonders of the Czech Republic. Prague, for myself and many of my friends, has a special place in my heart and in my photographs. I am writing you in regard to the small monument in front of the National Museum in Prague. It's a small cross with a ring of barbed wire at the center. It was my understanding that this is a monument to two martyrs who lit themselves on fire in protest of communism. Do you have any additional information on this?"

The monument commemorates the memory of two students who sacrificed their lives in 1969 in protest against the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia which crushed the Prague Spring. Jan Palach was first, he burned himself on Wenceslas Square, where the monument now stands, in an attempt to make people more aware to keep up the fight at a time when a year and a half had passed since the occupation and people were learning to live with the new situation.

Jan Zajic followed his example a month later. The sacrifice shook the nation, and even though it could not change the situation, the memory of the two is a very significant part of our history.

The monument itself was unveiled 31 years after Jan Palach's heroic self-sacrifice on January 16th, 2000, so it's one of the newest monuments in Prague.

It's also very different from other Prague monuments, less monumental, I'd say, in the sense that it does not stand out from a distance. It consists of two elevations, kind of humps in the pavement, with a cross lying over them and the wreath of barbed wire Joshua Liberman mentioned. It's very simple, but because it's right there in the sidewalk on that busy part of Wenceslas Square, it makes people stop and, hopefully, think.

And, on a lighter note, but still on the topic of thinking, here is a rather resolute request from Kelly, that's the only information he or she gives about herself - or herself.

"Hi - You really need to think about putting in more stuff about the national anthem ! I need to find stuff about it for school and there is nothing that I can do. Please write me back telling me where I can find the national anthem for the Czech republic . Thank you so much ! - Kelly"

Well, Kelly, since we have no idea what part of the world you live in, it's hard to advise you where you could get a recording of the Czech National Anthem. Try the Czech Embassy, or the Czech Cultural Centre, if you live near one.

What we can tell you is something about our anthem's history. It was composed by Frantisek Skroup in 1834, for a play by Josef Kajetan Tyl called Fidlovacka - about a village fiddle player. The song is called Where is My Home - and talks about the beauties of the Czech countryside.

The song became very popular and when Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, it was chosen for the first part of the newly established country's National Anthem. The second part was a Slovak song. After the country's split in 1993, Where is My Home - or, in Czech: Kde domov muj, was kept on as the Czech anthem.

So, let's hear the original version of Kde domov muj, as sung by the fiddler in Fidlovacka.

Here it is, then, and with it the end of today's Mailbox presented by Olga Szantova and Dita Asiedu.

Authors: Dita Asiedu , Olga Szantová
run audio