Mailbox

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Today's Mailbox includes Topics: Various questions and requests from listeners, the limited possibilities of Mailbox to comply Reminder of listeners' competition Quotes from:Robert Padula, Phil Stremple, Yusuke Kamimura, Robert Huisman, Richard Lemke, Brian D.Webb, Geoff Brennan, Antony Van, Ted Schuerzinger, Igor Salajka, Sheng Zihuan, Gene Attwood

Yes, Dita Asiedu is, we hope, enjoying her holiday in Italy and here in the studio with me is Pavla Horakova. Welcome to Mailbox, Pavla, it's your first experience with the program.

Yes, it is, and I must say I've really enjoyed preparing for it. I've seen listeners' letters before, of course, all of us are interested in what response there is to our features and what listeners have to say about our work. But this is the first time I've actually gone through the whole bunch of mail, and I must say I'm impressed and even surprised.

Surprised?

Yes, by the great variety. Many listeners even send postcards and photographs of various interesting spots in their country and just looking at those is quite an experience. Look, Robert Padula from Surrey Hills, Victoria sends a card showing various Australian parrots - five different kinds of them, they're lovely, and Phil Stremple sends a postcard of Folsom Dam in California, USA, where he lives.

Yes, the postcards are lovely - here's one of another dam, this one in Japan, with the Sakuras growing nearby in blossom. It's sent by Yusuke Kamimura, from Yokohama, who writes that it's Sakura time in Japan, the loveliest season of the year. Yes, you're right, Pavla, it is nice that listeners tell us about their country. Look, along with a postcard, Robert Huisman has even sent a booklet about the parks in Melbourne, Australia.

Well, of course I've seen many of those photos and cards before, but it's nice to get them with the letters. And by the way, it's also nice to see the many lovely stamps on the letters. Just look at these wonderful Canadian stamps on the envelope with the reception report from Richard Lemke in Alberta, Canada. Or this stamp with the two yellow eyed penguins from New Zeland.

That's on a reception report from Brian D.Webb in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. He also sends a photograph of a lovely water stream on New Zealand's South Island. As far as the stamps are concerned, we give those to collectors, which is just one additional aspect of our work.

I've noticed that dealing with listeners' letters goes far beyond what you'd expect to do in a radio station.

Well, we try to do our best, but, still, we can't possibly always comply with listeners' requests. For example I'm afraid we haven't been of much help to Geoff Brennan from Dublin, Ireland:

"I am writing to you about beermats, as I am doing an art project in my final year of school. I would deeply appreciate it if you could send me as many beermats as possible. I am willing to cover any expenses as with this transaction that you may incur. I patiently await your reply."

I'm afraid Geoff is still waiting, because I'm still trying to find a club of beermat collectors for him to contact. But at least he says he is patient, which some listeners are not.

"I wrote you my question concerning one of your programs in Mailbox. After two weeks I have not received any sign of any information from you! Is this common policy at your station?"

Now, that's an e-mail from Antony Vana from Helsingborg, Sweden, who would like the address of a malt-house in North Moravia, where the inventor of the Czech powdered beer is supposed to be working. Originally, I got the information about the beer powder after quite a lot of looking around in the patent office and other places, because a listener was interested in it, and so we did talk about the invention on our program. But I have not as yet found the address of the brewery, because I haven't had the time. I'm sorry, two weeks is not all that long with so many other things to see to, but we do try to help, and it certainly is not our policy to leave letters unanswered. We do try to help, whenever we can, but the questions really are varied, and, I'm sorry to say, not all the e-mails are signed. Like this one:

"Could you supply me with more historical information on Alphonse Maria Mucha?"

So, what did you do with that?

I sent him, or her, the address of the Mucha Museum and suggested he or she contact them, they have various publications about the painter, I couldn't possibly write out any detailed information or collect any documents or publications.

But, even though listeners do have various kinds of questions, I have noticed that the bulk of our mail is concerned with our programs.

Yes, definitely. And have you noticed that we have been receiving the first comments on your new feature about the Czech language, Pavla? For example Ted Schuerzinger from Kingston, NY, USA writes:

"I enjoy the new weekly feature on the Czech language, especially the recent edition on the R bar in Prague and the comments that Vaclav Havel has difficulty pronouncing the Slavic R."

That's just one example. Your Czech language Program - ABC of Czech which goes out every Wednesday does seem to be popular from the very start.

Well, hopefully, it will help explain some of the aspects of the Czech language. But I've noticed that every once in a while we have to answer questions about English, or the words we use, once in a while some listeners seem to have problems.

That usually happens when the British members of our staff use a word our American listeners aren't acquainted with. The last case was a couple of days ago, when Rob Cameron used the word "vetting" in connection with the National Security Office. One of our American listeners, Mr.Ehrlich wrote that he did not know the word. So Rob sent him a detailed answer explaining that it was a word commonly used in British English for screening and gave him some half a dozen Internet addresses where he can find the word used. We really do try to answer.

Generally, judging by the letters and e-mails I've seen, it seems that our news programs are very well received. Igor Salajka writes:

"I would like to thank you for your efforts and the superb performance you offer through your news sessions. I have always enjoyed your web pages and now I am also very happy to listen to the news as well as read it simultaneously. Thank you for this excellent opportunity."

And there's similarly favourable comment about our programs informing listeners about life in the Czech Republic. This is an e-mail from The People's Republic of China, from Sheng Zihuan in Shenzhen City:

"I am very glad to listen to the programs from the Czech Republic. Before I started listening to Radio Prague, I knew very little about your country, but now I have some understanding of Czech politics, economy, culture, the society, etc. I think the Czech Republic is a great country. I have not been listening to your programs for long, and would like to know more about your country, could you please send me some information about your station and about the country in general?"

Now, that's what we're really here for and we do send listeners publications about the Czech Republic and especially about Radio Prague. We're glad there is such a huge interest in our station, including its history - we are still sending the booklet published on the occasion of our station's 65th anniversary to listeners who ask for it. And we're always glad to explain any questions connected with our broadcasts, even though sometimes we have to repeat information we have given before, such as when Gene Attwood from Oulu, Finland writes:

"I am listening to your live broadcast today, Wednesday, but it is your Tuesday's program. Is it always one day behind?"

Well, the answer is that we have one half hour program a day, which we broadcast for the first time in the afternoon. It's repeated on various wavelengths and at certain intervals, during the rest of the day, and in the morning of the next day, until the new program goes out, a fact we do hope listeners understand and which is available in our printed program schedules which we have sent to all listeners on our mailing list. It is also available on our web-site, on www.radio.cz.

Where you can also find information about our new listeners' competition, which we talked about in detail last week. For now, just briefly - We're asking listeners to answer the question "Who or what comes to my mind when I hear PRAGUE?" and we're expecting your entry by June 16th 2002.

You can send it by surface mail to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague 2, Czech Republic, or by e-mail to english@radio.cz.

We'll be telling you about the competition in greater detail in next week's Mailbox, so, join us then. By the way, with Dita still on holiday, will you be joining me in the studio next week, too, Pavla?

I'd like to.

That's fine. And since this is your first time on Mailbox, how about choosing the song to end today's program?

Well, how about....

Here it is, and with it, goodbye from us, Olga Szantova and Pavla Horakova

Authors: Olga Szantová , Pavla Horáková
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