Foto: Archivo de Radio Praga

Today in Mailbox: Listeners’ response to Radio Prague’s special 90th anniversary broadcast; Bohemian crown jewels; listeners’ quiz question. Listeners quoted: Stephen Mason, Iain Cameron, Bernard Grondin, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Alf Persson, Henrik Klemetz, Ted Schuerzinger, Henk Poortvliet, David Eldridge, Hans Verner Lollike, Ian Morrison, and Mary Lou Krenek.

90th anniversary of Czech Radio,  photo: archive of Radio Prague
Hello and welcome to Mailbox coming to you from the Czech Republic which is currently dealing with the aftermath of large-scale floods that hit much of the country earlier this week.

On a happier note, thank you so much for your reception reports on Radio Prague’s special 90th anniversary broadcast on May 18th. They have arrived from all over the world, from long-term listeners we hadn’t heard from for a while, from places including Italy, Japan, Finland, China and Catalonia. Thank you also for the clips of sound you attached and scans of your old Radio Prague QSL cards, some from as far back as 1963.

This message is from Stephen Mason from the USA:

“Hello, today I was listening to you Anniversary Broadcast on 6005 at 1558 GMT, May 18, 2013. What a GREAT BROADCAST. I am glad that I was part of history here in Ocean Township, New Jersey.”

Iain Cameron from Scotland wrote:

“It's good to hear you back on the air with this broadcast. I started listening to shortwave back in the 1980s when still at school and one of the first stations I heard and received a QSL card from was Radio Prague. I still have the QSLs in a folder somewhere up the loft. I started listening to shortwave again last year after a long break and although some stations are still there it’s not the same as it used to be – killed by the internet I guess.”

This is a message from Bernard Grondin from Réunion Island who received his first Radio Prague QSL Card back in 1978:

“I listened to you on shortwave tonight on 3985 kHz with SINPO 24222! Despite the poor reception on shortwave, due to the distance and low power use, I did not want to miss this 90th anniversary.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty let us know about the quality of reception in India:

“Please receive a reception report on Radio Prague's special one-off shortwave broadcast on the happy occasion of its 90th birthday. I along with my family enjoyed the broadcast to Europe and Asia. Reception quality was good.”

Alf Persson from Sweden sent us a photo of his QSL card from 1963 along with his report:

“The first two transmissions were pretty difficult to hear. The signal was a little weak and there was a lot of static noise on the bands. But in the evening at 19.00–22.00 UTC the reception on 3895 kHz was much better with a strong signal and much less noise. I listened to your interesting program about radio in the Czech Republic over the last 90 years.”

Henrik Klemetz also tuned into the broadcast in Sweden:

“Carrying my little Lextronic transistor and listening through earbuds I was walking around in the woods outside of my living compound in order to avoid the electrical noise, and so at 1905 UTC I noticed some faint voices on 3985 kHz, one of which I recognized as being that of David Vaughan. As reception was practically useless and the program seemed interesting I have now listened to it again via the internet. I find that this was yet another of those skilfully elaborated features which Mr. Vaughan has brought Radio Prague listeners in the past: a group of his students at the Anglo-American University selecting and commenting on recorded material from the Radio Prague sound archives.”

Ted Schuerzinger from the US added a note to his report:

“I listen to your program via the World Radio Network's podcast, usually six days a week, or every day but Sunday, and still enjoy the programs. In fact, I've got an acquaintance on an Internet discussion forum who's an expat living in Prague 6, and I think I annoy him sometimes with how much I know about the Czech Republic that I've learned from listening to Radio Prague. When there was the gas explosion a few weeks back, I asked him if he was OK, and it turned out he knew nothing about it being all the way out in Prague 6, and was wondering why he was getting a bunch of messages on social media asking him if he was OK.”

Photo: YouTube
Henk Poortvliet from the Netherlands wrote:

“My congratulations on the 90th anniversary of regular radiobroadcasts in Czechoslovakia! On May 18th, I heard your special program dedicated to this anniversary with keen interest because during the past 40 years Radio Prague is an excellent source of information about your country and the other East European countries, too. It was nice to hear Radio Prague on radio waves again. Although I do listen to Radio Prague on the internet, for me as a keen DX-er a radiobroadcast is just fine to use.”

And David Eldridge from England writes:

“Just a note to let you know your short wave transmission came through on 6005 kHz ‘loud and clear’ (mostly) to the UK. Amazing, at just 1 kW(?). Your 90th birthday matches my 50th of listening to Radio Prague.”

Thank you very much for letting us know you are out there listening. Your reception reports were a wonderful birthday gift and we hope all your QSL cards have arrived safely.

Now onto other mail, Jayanta Chakrabarty from India commented on our report on the recent and rare exhibition of the Bohemian crown jewels:

“The news report on Radio Prague of 11 May 2013 entitled ‘Crown Jewels Go On Display At Prague Castle’ was interesting and absorbing. ... While making a little research on the St Wenceslas Crown I have been able to gather some important information which I would like to share with my fellow listeners of Radio Prague. The Crown is made of pure gold of very high quality (21–22 carat) and decorated with precious stones and pearls weighing some two and a half kilos with height and diameter of 19 cm each respectively. King Charles commissioned the crown for his coronation in 1347 and dedicated it to the first patron saint of the country, St Wenceslas, bequeathing it as a state crown for future coronations. He is said to have continually altered the crown with additional rare precious stones which we find in its present setting.

Bohemian crown jewels,  photo: Filip Jandourek
"The most significant part of the Crown jewels are the precious stones of blue sapphires symbolizing the blue of the sky and red gems of the blood colour of Christ. The Crown is also surrounded by mysteries. The colour of gem stones symbolizes medieval superstitions and has linkage between religious devotion and pagan beliefs. Though monarchy has been abolished from the Czech land from 1918, the enthusiasm among its proud citizens to preserve and proclaim the legacy is overwhelming.”

Of course, we mustn’t forget our monthly listeners’ quiz. Let’s go quickly through some of your answers:

Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark wrote:

“Alphonse Maria Mucha – born in 1860 in CZ and died in Prague 1939 after being arrested by the Nazis. (The tennis player of my time Ivan Lendl has put his collection of Mucha’s paintings on display in Prague for the time being.)”

Ian Morrison from China writes:

“I first got to know about Alphonse Mucha when I started listening to Radio Prague back in the 1980s. And I first saw examples of his works around the same time on some Czechoslovak postage stamps, which I started collecting in the 1980s.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India sent us a detailed answer:

“The Universal Exhibition in Paris was instrumental in making Mucha an international artist. As a true son of the Czech land, Mucha always emphasized Czech art and his birthplace. With success in the US he funded nationalist projects to demonstrate to his fellow citizens that he was still a Czech at heart. Supported by Chicago millionaire Charles Crane he helped promote revolutions and Slavic nationalism with the aim of Czech independence. ...

“The ’Slav Epic’ is 20 vast canvas paintings which he committed to his art and country is his most famous work. Some of the titles like ‘The Original Homeland’; ‘The Printing of the Bible of Kralice in Ivančice’; ‘The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia’ and ‘The Introduction of the Slavonic Liturgy’ are real masterpieces.”

The Slav Epic | Photo: Štěpánka Budková,  Radio Prague International
And Mary Lou Krenek from Texas wrote:

“It was quite a surprise to discover our mystery person to be Alfons Maria Mucha. I am familiar with some of his works due to my travels in the Czech Republic. One cannot go into any souvenir shop without having the opportunity to purchase one of his reproductions. I bought a poster and several cards that I brought back to the States. Alfons Mucha and his Art Nouveau creative works are a national treasure in the Czech Republic.”

Thank you very much for your answers and this month the lucky winner is Stephen Wara from Cameroon. Congratulations! A Radio Prague parcel is on its way to you. And for everyone else here’s a new question for the coming four weeks.

This time we are looking for the name of the Czech New Wave film director and screenwriter born in 1933 who left Czechoslovakia following the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion and has been living and working in the United States since then.

Please send us your answers by July 3rd to the usual address, [email protected]. We are looking forward to your reception reports, questions and comments which you can also post onto our Facebook page. Until next month, thanks for listening and take care.