Photo: archive of Radio Prague

Today in Mailbox: Christmas and New Year's greetings, Christmas programmes, reception reports, answers to last month's quiz question. Listeners/readers quoted: Chrissy Brand, Simon-Peter Liehr, Richard Nowak, Juan Carlos Gil Mongio, Meng Cheng, Qian Xiu-ping, Mofizur Rahman, Hans Verner Lollike, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Mary Lou Krenek, Arne Timm.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
Hello and welcome to the first Mailbox in 2016! Thank you for the multitude of Christmas and New Year’s greetings and wishes. May you, our listeners, have a happy and fruitful 2016, too! Radio Prague is happy to keep you company.

Among those greetings we received this lovely e-mail from Chrissy Brand from England:

“Thank you so much for another year of fantastic programmes. You are an international broadcaster that leads the way with such a good variety of both quality and quantity when it comes to programmes. If only more broadcasters would follow your example.

“I particularly enjoy Panorama with its range of national and international coverage (for instance on your President's scary anti-Muslim stance and the refusal to appoint professors, and the Myanmar election) and, at the other end of the scale, the simple idea (but such a clever one) of My Prague, is wonderful.

“In fact I am slowly working my way through all the episodes I have missed. It has made me determined to return to Prague and the Czech Republic for a holiday in 2016. Perhaps you could extend the programme by sometimes going to other cities and rural communities in your country?

“I used to listen to you on shortwave but that seems impossible these days. So, at least once a week, I download your daily broadcasts and selections from your archives. I then listen to them as I am commuting around my hometown of Manchester or on long train journeys around the UK.

“Wishing all at Radio Prague and all your listeners a merry festive period and a happy and healthy 2016.”

We are always interested to know where and how you listen to our programmes. Here’s what Simon-Peter Liehr wrote:

“Greetings from Germany! Great that Radio Prague’s news in English can be heard via Czech medium wave in Europe now! Here is my reception report. Please note also the transmitter site - Domamil (Moravské Budějovice) - on your QSL card. Thank you very much in advance!”

Richard Nowak from Florida sent us this:

Photo: Martina Schneibergová
“The Christmas Music show ‘A Czech Christmas’ was outstanding! I enjoyed everything, this was great! Thanks for the show and your support of shortwave!”

Thank you for your feedback, it is much appreciated. And now onto our monthly quiz. The correct answer to last month’s question is neither Philippe Petit nor Joseph Gordon-Levitt but rather :

“Rudy Omankowski, Jr. is the Czech tight rope walker. I had not heard about him before, so I searched online and found a documentary about his walk between the Twin Towers entitled ‘Man on Wire’. It is very exciting and it seems to be a [feature] film, not ‘only’ a documentary. I hope ‘The Walk’ to be presented in my city to watch it.”

…writes Juan Carlos Gil Mongio from Spain in his reception report. Meng Cheng from China wrote:

“My answer to this month's quiz question is: Rudolf Omankowsky, who's also known as Papa Rudy. Rudolf Omankowsky is the Czech-born French tight rope walker, who is portrayed in a supporting part in Robert Zemeckis’ 2015 film ‘The Walk’. In this 3D film, Rudolf Omankowsky is played by Ben Kingsley.”

Qian Xiu-ping from China wrote:

“From to the three clues of ‘Czech-born French tight rope walker’, ‘a supporting part in Robert Zemeckis’ 2015 film 'The Walk’, and ‘His character is played by Ben Kingsley’, I've successfully guessed that the mysterious person is Rudolf Omankowsky, aka Papa Rudy. I'm very sure it is the very correct answer to your quiz question.”

Mofizur Rahman from Bangladesh writes:

“Omankowsky was the patriarch of a successful group of wire walkers who performed in France and throughout Europe. His wife Anna Tříska, and their children, Rudy Jr., Berty, and Lili were known as Les Diables Blancs.

“In 1954, Rudy Omankowski made headlines when his daughter Berty married Roger Decugis in ceremony conducted on high wires above the streets of Toulouse, France.

“Omankowski is now a high wire teacher at the Centre Nationale des Arts du Cirque in Châlons-en-Champagne, France, and has mentored many prominent high wire and circus artists, including Didier Pasquette, Jade Kindar-Martin and Molly Saudek.”

This answer is from Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark:

Rudy Omankowski,  photo: Paul Townsend,  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“A very skilled young man, that had both the physical ability and the psychic strength to do extraordinary things. As a young man he trained himself to perform by performing in the streets, he sky walked illegally between towers in Paris where he lived, but first when he walked between the Twin Towers in New York in August 1974. It was partly filmed, and created a scandal that made him well-known.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India sent a long answer:

“Rudolf Otto Omankowsky Jr born in Prague in 1937 into a long line of circus and highwire performers rose to become the most illustrious modern tightrope walker. Counselled by his father from the tender age of three years on highwire walking he followed the footsteps of his parents who were among the famous Czech artists requisitioned during the War in Germany and later in France.

“In 1950, ‘Papa Rudy’ as he was affectionately called succeeded his father as head of the appropriately named ‘White Devils’ group of acrobats. This much sought after group toured important cities of France, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Britain and even parts of Asia performing incredible balance walk shows on unicycles, threesome pyramid cycles and other acrobatic shows. Rudy himself specialized in somersault in single bicycle over four partners. His notable performances include the 1959 and 1961 tightrope walk across the 200 m Cheddar Gorge in Somerset without using a net. In 1962 he stunned the world by his 1.25 km long skywalk over the Gerardmer Lake in Les Vosges, eastern France, situated between two mountain tops of 240m and 200 m high. This being the longest skywalk ever made blindfolded earned him the title of World Champion.”

Mary Lou Krenek from the US writes:

“Rudy Omankowski, Jr. is a France based highwire walker born on 1 January 1937 in Czechoslovakia into a long line of circus and highwire performers.

“He holds a record for skywalk distance he achieved for his 1.25 km skywalk between two mountaintops in Gerardmer, les Vosges, France. Omankowski also walked acress Cheddar Gorge, Cheddar in Somerset, England in 1959 and again in 1961. He did not use a net.

“Papa Rudy as he is affectionately referred to by his students, mentored Philippe Petit, a French highwire walker who is famous for his walk between the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1974. A popular movie, ‘The Walk’ was made of this experience with actor Sir Ben Kingsley playing the supporting role of Papa Rudy.”

Thank you very much indeed for all your answers and this time our little prize goes to Arne Timm from Estonia. Congratulations! And for the rest of you who haven’t been lucky this time, there’s a brand new mystery person to disclose.

In January we would like to know the name of the Czech-English social anthropologist and philosopher who was born in 1925 in Paris and died in Prague in 1995. He is considered as one of the foremost experts on the subject of nationalism.

Please send us his name to [email protected] by January 27th. That is also the address for your questions, comments and reception reports. Mailbox will be back again in four weeks’ time. Until then, happy listening and take care.