Today's Mailbox includes Topics: Reception conditions during Summer. What is the Czech's favorite beverage? Listeners mentioned and quoted: Jaako Haapamaeki, Swopan Chakroborty, Ted Shchuerzinger, Alex Torbeni, Thomas Hardford

Welcome to today's Mailbox, which, I hope, will satisfy all listeners who keep complaining that we do not spend enough time discussing problems connected with short wave listening, wavelengths, etc. That includes Jaako Haapamaeki of Filipstad, Sweden, and a number of others.

In this case especially Swopan Chakroborty in Kalkota, India, whose reception reports and comments on reception conditions in South India started a chain of events involving a number of people and requiring quite a lot of effort.

To explain and to start from the very beginning: On May 26 we had our short wave expert, Olda Cip in Mailbox, to answer questions about reception conditions in various parts of the world, especially complaints from Martin Gallas from Jacksonville, Illinois, USA and from some listeners in Japan and China. They wrote that on 21745 kHz they get considerable interference from Deutsche Welle, namely their program for Africa.

At that time Olda Cip said that that particular transmission was directed rather towards South Asia and especially the South Eastern part of Australia, so he thought that India should be quite well served by our signal from the transmitter in Litomysl, on that particular frequency, on 21745 kHz. He advised listeners in India to tune in to that frequency at 1300 UTC, because this frequency should be covering that region at this time.

But that statement about good reception in Southern Asia did not satisfy Swopan Chakroborty, who wrote

"Your short wave expert said that Radio Prague's English transmission at 1300 hours UTC on 21745 kHz is not being disturbed by Deutsche Welle's Hausa programme directed towards Africa. I am not one with him. I regularly try to log RP on this channel. But here also Deutsche Welle is very strong on the same channel at the same time. Nothing is audible from Radio Prague. We miss Radio Prague on the shortwave very much."

And on June 6th Swopan wrote once more:

"Once again reminding you about poor short wave reception conditions of Radio Prague in south Asia. Several of my Indian radio friends are also complaining."

Meanwhile, Olda Cip was looking into the matter and consulting it with some other monitors and the result: as of Monday, June 17, Prague changed its 21745 kHz frequency at 1300 hours UTC to 21735 kHz, where there would be no interference from Deutsche Welle.

And we were waiting to hear from listeners in South India whether they actually heard us better, without any interference on that new frequency, 21735 kHz.

We did receive a report from a completely different place, from Kingston, NY, USA. Ted Shchuerzinger wrote

"Enclosed please find a reception report of a recent English-language broadcast on the newly introduced frequency of 21735 kHz that you use at 1300 hours UTC. I am pleased to inform you that this has been providing relatively good reception here in North America, despite the fact that it's actually intended for South Asia!"

As for South Asia, we received this report from Swopan Chakroborty:

"I have been checking the reception of your new changed frequency 21735 kHz from 1300-1357 UTC for south Asia. It is not audible due to very poor propagation. Transmission is not reaching us at all. The frequency is completely blank with atmospheric noise. Nothing audible from Radio Prague on that channel during 1300-1327 UTC."

Swopan did add that he hears Radio Prague very well on 11600 kHz, but that's at 2000 hours UTC, which is the middle of the night in his part of the world, not a convenient time to listen.

And other listeners wrote pretty much the same, for example Alex Torbeni from Bali, Indonesia:

"Your broadcast at 2000 UTC is much better, but it's too early for us who live in Indonesia. 2000 UTC is 4 am for us here in Bali. It means I have to get up really early."

So, it seems we still aren't really reaching our South Asian listeners as we should. So, I called Olda Cip once more, to ask what had gone wrong, why the new 21735 frequency wasn't doing the job.

"Well, it's relatively easy to explain. When reception was right on the transmission path between Central Europe and India in the Spring equanox in the Spring and in the Winter period, there was the interference. We changed the frequencies as to avoid the interference from Deutsche Welle, but in the meantime conditions in this part have changed and at present they are probably the most unfavourable during the whole year. Consequently reception is poor, or non-existent, even in India, because the propagation is not good. The situation is completely different at other periods of the day. There is a window of very good propagation open in the later afternoon and evening hours UTC, but, unfortunately, there is darkness, and there is night in India and although some of our listeners listen to us during these periods, their local time is completely unsuitable for listening."

So, listening conditions for short wave transmissions will be poor in that part of the world throughout summer, until the equinox, on September 23rd when reception in the 21735 frequency should start improving again. Some stations get over that problem by using a local relay facility to re-broadcast their program locally . But that's a financial problem, and while we do use re-broadcasting facilities in some parts of the world, we can't do so everywhere.

Maybe, if we get many, many more letters and reception reports from listeners in South Asia, the matter will be considered.

But that does depend on listeners. Don't forget that the only way we have of knowing you are listening is by letting us know about it.

And the address, just in case you've forgotten, is Radio Prague, 120 99, Prague 2, or, if you prefer e-mail: [email protected]

Now, let's see, how much time do have left for listeners from the rest of the world - not much, I'm afraid, so just briefly - many questions we've received recently are obviously inspired by the hot summer we're having.

Thomas Hardford e-mails from Manchester, England:

"I've tasted some Czech beer a friend of mine brought back from a visit, and you can get some here, too. It's really great. Do Czechs drink anything else when they have such excellent beer?"

Well, Czechs are great beer drinkers, we head the world list in the amount of beer consumed, on average 160 litres of beer per every Czech man, woman and child a year.

But that's the overall consumption in the country, much of that beer is downed by foreign visitors, and the general trend seems to be an increase in the consumption of mineral water, a real boom, in fact. In 1994 some 228 million litres of it were bottled, but last year it was 707 million litres, that's three times as much.

I remember, just a few years ago, Czechs were surprised to see foreign tourists carrying a bottle of water around wherever they went, but nowadays more and more Czechs are doing the same.

And the consumption of juices is growing, but also the consumption of wine. According to statistics the average Czech drinks 16 litres of wine every year.

Which is still only a tenth of the beer consumption. Regardless of trends, beer certainly is and remains the national beverage. So, let's end today's Mailbox with a typical beer song...

Authors: Dita Asiedu , Olga Szantová
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