Today's Mailbox includes Topics: Exchanging foreign currency in Prague O. Cip on short wave transmissions and listening conditions Radio Prague´s listeners´ competition Listeners mentioned and quoted: David Griller, Martin Gallas, Zhang Xiang, Baber Shehzad

Hello from a Prague where, in spite of its usual ups and downs, the weather has suddenly jumped into summer. A fact which certainly shows in the number of tourists in our streets - and tourism, of course, has ITS ups and downs, too, as David Griller points out in his e-mail:

"Last week I spent 4 magnificent days in Prague. Your city is beautiful in every regard. All of the historic buildings are superb. Hotels are very good value for money and extremely clean. Food is wholesome and inexpensive. But I did see a minor problem which has the potential to spoil the tourist experience."

Now, what David has in mind isn´t overcharging by Prague taxi drivers, a frequent complaint and a problem the town hall is fighting. He is talking about the private money exchange shops which have signs saying they do not charge any commission.

"In fact, they charge no commission on "selling" but typically 9% on "buying". The trick is to get the tourist to execute a transaction on the assumption that the commission is zero per cent. Can you act to heighten public awareness to the issue? "

Now, that´s an economic issue, and I´ve asked Vladimir Tax, our economics expert to join us to discuss it. Vladimir, what do you think of David´s complaint?

"Exchange offices tend to charge no commission on selling foreign currencies for crowns, which usually means to Czechs, who are the ones who want to buy foreign currencies. But they do tend to charge the other way around, on selling crowns to foreigners who want to buy Czech crowns. The exchange rates are usually unfavorable for all concerned, so I suggest you go to a bank to have your money changed. They do charge commissions, but you know the conditions and the exchange rates are in accordance with the official rates, so you know the conditions."

Which all goes to prove that you can´t be too careful where money is concerned. Thank you Vladimir, for joining us in Mailbox.

And we have yet another visitor today, Olda Cip, Radio Prague´s short wave expert.

We´ve had a number of questions from listeners about problems connected with short wave listening, so, please Olda, can you help us answer them? Here is the first one, connected with the fact that we have moved our transmission on 21745 kHz from 1400 to 1300 hours UTC and there seem to be some problems with it. Martin Gallas writes that he gets considerable interference from Deutsche Welle, namely their program for Africa. Olda, why is that?

"Well, that listener is from North America, from Jacksonville, Illinois, and that´s the problem, because at 1300 hours UTC we target our programs to the Southern parts of Asia and in that area we believe that there is no interference from Deutsche Welle. But we are aware, and maybe it´s a pity, because that particular portion of the short wave spectrum on 21 megahertz is not very overloaded and so we are in touch with our colleagues in Deutsche Welle and maybe we are going to move away from that frequency to another channel to avoid this incompatibility. Sometimes we cannot avoid such a situation."

So, what do you suggest until those changes are made?

"Martin Gallas should listen to us on the frequencies that are targeting North America, there is quite a lot of them."

If there is a change, does that have to go through the High Frequency Coordination Conference of which you are chairman? Does it have to be agreed on there?

"Well, we shall certainly tell our partners in Deutsche Welle and we shall register it within the data base of the HFCC as an amendment to the current schedule."

You are chairman and founder of the organisation. Let´s come back to the High Frequency Coordination Conference and its work on some future Mailbox. When is the next conference?

"In the last week of August."

So, in connection with that I´ll ask you to come and tell us about it. But right now at least one more listener´s letter. It´s from Beijing, from Zhang Xiang who complains about the time on which we broadcast. It appears that in East Asia our programs come in the middle of the night, which is not exactly good for the listener.

"Yes, that´s true, although I believe that our listener in China can find some alternative frequencies that are on the air during the daytime in China. But this is again some kind of a problem, because China and Japan, these regions are in fact not targeted at all from the technical point by Radio Prague."

But we do have many listeners in Japan, they can hear us in spite of the fact that we do not target our programs towards them?

"But that is quite usual. Even if we do not have direct asymutal beam to that region, listeners can always pick up something. That´s why I am recommending our listener in China to check the frequencies in our complete schedule and possibly find something that is heard there during daytime."

It sounds like a bit of detective work.

"Well, it is, because that is the situation as I have just described."

And it is a part of the fun of DX-ing.

"Yes, exactly. I think that the evasiveness sometimes, of reception on short waves itself adds some of the attraction to the hobby of short wave listening."

Thank you, Olda. That was Olda Cip, Radio Prague´s short wave expert. And don´t forget, Olda will be joining us in Mailbox in August to discuss the work of the High Frequency Co-ordination Conference. So, if you have any questions about the co-ordination of short wave broadcasting, send them to us here, at Radio Prague by then.

And talking of dates by which we would like to hear from you brings us, of course, to this year´s listeners´ competition. Don´t forget that the deadline for entries is the middle of June. Which is a reminder for, among others, Baber Shehzad, Chairman of an organization called A Wonderful World Of Shortwave who writes from Bahawalpur, Pakistan:

"I have informed all club members and readers of our News Letter, the News Letter of Pakistani DX-ers about Radio Prague´s competition. I hope that they will send their entries to Radio Prague soon."

Well, thanks for the publicity, Baber. And I do hope, as you say, that the readers of your news letter will send their competition entries soon, because the deadline is, once more, the 16th of June. We cannot take into account any entries we receive after that date.

And that warning goes to all listeners who are still only considering taking part in this year´s competition. Don´t hesitate, it´s well worth trying. The question we´re asking is quite simple:

Who or what comes to my mind when I hear the word Prague?

And the prizes are more than generous. The main winner will have a comfortable, enjoyable return flight for two to the Czech Republic with Czech Airlines - Czech Airlines - at home in the skies.

And the one week stay in the Czech capital will be made comfortable thanks to the main sponsor of our competition - Prague Breweries Staropramen - the makers of Prague´s favorite beer. And, of course, he, or she, will have a great chance to taste Prague´s favorite beer in its home environments, because a part of the winner´s program in Prague will be a visit to the Staropramen brewery.

And to Radio Prague, of course. But besides the main prize there will also be a number of runner-up prizes, including portable radios, Radio Prague T-shirts, travel bags, etc.

And all entrants will receive Radio Prague souvenirs, so don´t hesitate, send your entries by the middle of June either by surface mail to our address:

Radio Prague

Vinohradska 12

120 99 Prague 2

Czech Republic.

and our e-mail address: [email protected]

Authors: Dita Asiedu , Olga Szantová
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