Mailbox

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Today's Mailbox includes Topics: Radio Prague competition. The Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in the Czech Republic. Radio Prague's archives. Problems with housing and moving to places with job opportunities. Listeners mentioned and quoted: Jaakko Haapamaeki, David L. Blatt, Björn Tandberg, Brian Moore, Geoffrey Hodson, Reverend Joseph Anthony Keller, David Kvaltine, Jack Osborne, Masanori Misu

Yes, welcome to Mailbox, the program in which we answer listeners' letters and talk about the topics they are interested in.

And it does seem that listeners are really showing an interest in our new competition, we already have the first entries. The very first to arrive was from Jaakko Haapamaeki, our listener in Filipstad, Sweden, and then they started coming in from listeners all over the world, from David L. Blatt our listener in Chicago IL, USA, from Björn Tandberg in Farsund, Norway and many others.

Watch it, Pavla, we cannot quote from any of those entries, it wouldn't be fair to give those who are still going to write any ideas. We can only quote after the deadline which is the middle of June.

Don't worry, I won't quote, I'll just remind listeners that the question this year is "Who, or what comes to my mind when I hear the word PRAGUE?" The length of the answer is not limited - we're expecting about one or two pages, and you can send your entries either by ordinary, or e-mail. Don't forget to add your full address, so we can send you the souvenir which every participant will be receiving, or the runner up prizes for the best entries.

Of course, there will be only one main prize - a one week visit to Prague with all expenses paid, including transport from the capital of the winner's country to Prague. And the program will include a visit to Radio Prague, as well as to the Prague Breweries Staropramen, which is one of the sponsors of the competition, with, of course, a chance to taste the Staropramen beer produced there.

Sounds great, but let's not talk too much about the competition, because it does take time away from the letters we have received.

Yes, our old-time listener Brian Moore, from Lowestoft, England points that out in his last letter. In his reception report for April 14th, which included the Mailbox in which we gave the first information about our competition he comments:

"I did think that the item regarding the listeners' competition should have been slotted in elsewhere, as there was very little time allocated to Mailbox."

Well, Brian, that's THE eternal problem. No matter where you put any extra information in the program, it's always instead of something, something some listener will miss, and we do think a listeners' competition does belong in the program dedicated to contacts with listeners. But having given the information in detail, we will keep it short in the future. And, by the way, it's nice to hear from you, Brian, after all this time. It's nice to know old listeners are still listening, even if they don't write as often as they used to. Which also goes for the latest e-mail from Geoffrey Hodson in Norwich, England:

"Many thanks for the copy of your 65 years history. Extremely well researched and written. Splendid illustrations and photographs. Your new studio looks very good. Hope you enjoy working in it. I spent my 75th birthday with you, but it looks as though it will be my 80th next year before I can visit you again. Still, it's good to continue to hear you, and to follow your excellent web page."

Thanks, we'll be looking forward to your visit, and don't forget, and that goes for all listeners, of course, one way of seeing our new studios is by winning the listeners' competition. Only one way, we do welcome all listeners who visit our station, and, time permitting, do show them around, regardless of the competition.

Yes, it is always nice to hear from old listeners, but we also like to receive first-time letters, like the one from the Reverend Joseph Anthony Keller, from Liverpool, England, who, even though he has sent us his very first letter, seems to have been listening for some time:

"May I compliment you all on the very interesting programmes you produce week in and week out."

The reason why Father Joseph has finally decided to send us a letter is that he would like to receive the booklet on the history of Radio Prague which we published in connection with our station's 65th anniversary.

But Reverend Keller also asks:

"Does Czech Radio have any archive recordings on tape or CD? If so, I would be grateful for details."

I do not know what details Father Joseph had in mind, but generally speaking: Yes, we do have archives, but they do not include every single program, just the most historic political, cultural and sports events, the voices of important personalities, etc. They are mostly on tape, but some, the oldest, are on records, and the newest on more modern technology. Radio Prague is closely connected with Czech Public Service Radio, and our archives are also connected.

Much of the information in the booklet on the history of Radio Prague which Father Joseph asked for comes from those archives. And many of the voices and sounds we use in some of our programs dealing with historic events, come from the Radio Archives.

But, needless to say, the bulk of our programs deal with contemporary life and contemporary affairs, and we do try to include as many interviews and on the spot reports as we can, a fact many listeners appreciate. One such recent feature was Daniela Lazarova's program about the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in the Czech Republic. A number of listeners have commented on it, and some have asked for even more details about the movement. They include David Kvaltine from Florida, USA and Jack Osborne from New Zealand, who writes:

"I heard your report on the Open Day in the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides clubs on April 6th and the Magazine feature about them. I was surprised to hear that you have such an active scouting organisation in the Czech Republic. Could you elaborate a bit more on the topic?"

Yes, but just briefly, because, as Jack mentioned, we've talked about them recently. The Association of Scouts and Guides of the Czech Republic is the largest organisation of children and young people in the country. It has more than 55 000 members.

Which is rather remarkable, when you take into account the problems it had to overcome. During the Communist years it was declared illegal, the only officially recognised children's organisation were the Pioneers and for those older there was the Czechoslovak Union of Youth. So the Scouts had to start all over again in 1990.

Not really, many Boy Scout and Girl Guide groups had been active more or less illegally, and the idea was kept alive by a number of leaders, some of whom were even arrested because of their activities.

The organisation has a very strong tradition. Its first groups started working in what is now the Czech Republic in 1911, only 4 years after the international movement was started in Britain. In 1912 the organisation, known here under the name of Junak was officially launched. And it survived in spite of the fact that it was closed down three times, by the Nazis, during the Second World War, by the Communists after they took over in 1948 and once again after 1968 when the Russian occupation ended the brief period of what is known as the Prague Spring, in which Junak played an important role.

And it is playing an important role even today, even with so many other children's organisations now functioning. Now, with Spring starting in earnest, they are coming out of their clubrooms and you can see more and more of their activities outdoors.

Which reminds me that this is the last Mailbox program in April, an important month of change brings us nearer to the nicer part of the year, as far as I'm concerned.

April is an important month in many parts of the world, very much so in Japan, as our listener Masanori Misu from Tokyo writes:

"In Japan April is a month of beginning. The school year begins in April. Many high school graduates come to Tokyo and other larger cities to enter universities. It is also at this time of year that office workers are usually transferred to another department or section. The transfer is often accompanied by moving. For all these people new lives start in April."

That is interesting. Our school year starts in September, which goes, as far as I know, for most of Europe. So, it's an interesting bit of information. But even more interesting, even fascinating for us is the casual way in which he mentions the fact that people move when they are transferred.

Now, I think, you're surprising many of our listeners, in most parts of the world people do move when they are transferred or change jobs. But I know what you mean, it is not as simple as that in the Czech Republic. There is practically no vacant housing, with the exception of some small villages or in places where there are no job opportunities.

And as a consequence we have areas where there is a very high unemployment rate but people cannot move to places where they might get a job. And when people are to be transferred from one place to another, they often choose to give up the job, so they won't have to move.

Czechs, in general, are not used to moving and do not like to move. Even though, come to think of it, maybe the younger generation is changing.

Which is a topic worth discussing in greater detail, but not today, I'm afraid. Mailbox has come to an end, and with it, this is Olga Szantova and Pavla Horakova

hoping reception was good and looking forward to hearing from you. Our address: RP, 120 99, Prague 2, Czech Republic and our e-mail address: english@radio.cz

And, of course, you can find all our programs and much more on Radio Prague's web-site: www.radio.cz

Authors: Olga Szantová , Pavla Horáková
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