This week in Mailbox we look back at 2009 and read from your letters of support and encouragement regarding the future of Radio Prague. Listeners quoted: Charles Konecny, Simon Hockenhull, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Rich Bisignano.

Welcome to Mailbox. After three days of special Christmas-themed programmes we are back to our regular schedule.

Thank you very much for all your lovely Christmas and New Year’s greetings – we are trying to reply to all of them as quickly as we can.

Třebechovice mechanical nativity scenes | Photo: Barbora Němcová,  Radio Prague International
Our regular listener Charles Konecny from Ohio says he has enjoyed the ‘Czech Christmas’ section on our website:

“You all do a fine job singing the Christmas carols and with the printed words I tried to sing along. I just wish my Czech was better. I also took note of the Třebechovice Mechanical Nativity. What a marvelous piece of work it is. I googled it for more information. So much work had to go into it.”

Another year is about to end and this past one has brought many changes. Some members of the Radio Prague staff have left to pursue their careers elsewhere, some new ones have joined us; our website got a facelift and the number of listeners’ e-mails has once again grown compared to the previous year. But 2009 has also brought some question marks about the future of Radio Prague’s shortwave service. We were really touched by the number of letters of support we received from you, the listeners, concerning the proposed budget cuts. Let’s listen to some of the most recent ones:

Simon Hockenhull writes from Great Britain:

“I hope you change your minds about closing your HF service and become just yet another internet only radio station competing with perhaps hundreds of thousands of other stations. With radio you can turn it on and listen, it does not matter what other people in the household do whereas with internet radio you have to have access to a pc and internet which in a busy household like mine is not always guaranteed. I think your main outlet should still be on HF backed up by a good internet site. Please don't let Radio Prague slip into oblivion which has already happened to other international radios stations from Austria, Norway and Switzerland.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India is our faithful listener:

“My association with Radio Prague dates back to my childhood days. I first stumbled upon Radio Prague in 1965 when listening to shortwave late at night. My radio set was one of those valve operated ones. The friendly voice of the lady announcer (maybe Marie) in a typical Czech accent and interesting programmes attracted my attention. Radio Prague introduced me to the rich Czech-Slovak culture, its music and literature. I soon became a fan of the haunting voices of popular singers Karel Gott, Karel Zich and Helena Vondráčková. My asscociation with Radio Prague since those happy days has strengthened with time. In fact, I grew up with Radio Prague.”

“The news that Radio Prague is about to close its SW broadcasts after February 2010 is not only heart-rendering but really a sad day for shortwave radio all over the world. A radio station that has contributed so much to enhance its country's image and been a source of inspiration to countless listeners, like myself, should at least deserve a better deal. On behalf of thousands of devoted Radio Prague's worldwide listeners, I take this opportunity to request the authorities of Radio Prague and the Czech Foreign Ministry to once again reconsider their decision on winding up the shortwave section. I would be willing to do my small part at a personal level to keep Radio Prague running.”

Rich Bisignano from the US is also a faithful listener:

“I have been listening to Radio Prague for at least 45 years and have enjoyed every broadcast I have listened to over shortwave radio. I have learned much from Radio Prague and the information acquired from Radio Prague led me to take three trips to your country and partake in pursuing the building of HBO Czech. Please save Radio Prague shortwave broadcasts from the junk heap. It is not outdated but a real form of cultural sharing and education worldwide. It would be a true loss to the global radio community especially since I understand that the cost savings would not be that great. Thanks in advance for keeping the shortwave broadcasts of Radio Prague alive.”

Thank you so much for your support and concern. Negotiations are still taking place and the only thing I can say for certain now is that we will be meeting in January according to the regular broadcast schedule. Once we have more information about Radio Prague’s future, you’ll be the first to know.

And even in this last Mailbox in 2009, it is my duty to repeat the quiz question for this month:

In December we are asking you to send us the name of the Austrian author interested in mysticism and the occult who spent two decades of his life in Prague around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. His most famous novel takes place in and around Prague’s old Jewish Ghetto.

You have four more days to send us your answers to [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. Thank you for listening to Mailbox in 2009 and please stay faithful to Radio Prague in the upcoming year.