This week in Mailbox: An unusual reception report from Montana, the results of Radio Prague’s Christmas competition. Listeners quoted: Christoph Preutenborbeck, Mark Schiefelbein, Brian Kendall, Jin Ok Um, Qiu Lei, Praseetha Kizhakedath, Oscar Machuki, Krista Warstler.

Photo: European Commission
Hello and welcome to Mailbox.

Two weeks into January, we are still receiving your lovely New Year’s greetings and among them we have received this from our listener Christoph Preutenborbeck from Germany who is responding to a story on the Czech Republic joining the Schengen border-free area along with eight other EU countries:

“Schengen expansion ends the Iron Curtain's hold over Europe - dear friends, congratulations Europe!”

Thank you for all the letters and e-mails that never cease arriving. Mark Schiefelbein from Montana sent us an unusual reception report:

“I encountered a fairly strong DRM signal while tuning my radio across the shortwave bands. I hooked up my radio to my DRM decoding software, and much to my surprise I discovered it was an old friend, Radio Prague! Unfortunately, I could decode hardly any of the audio. The information I have, however, shows this is a broadcast via Rampisham UK to Europe with a mere 35kW. So for me in the central USA to hear it at all, let alone be able to partially decode the signal, is remarkable! I did not realize until this reception that Radio Prague was experimenting with DRM broadcasts, but I'm glad to see that's the case.”

And Mark Schiefelbein adds:

“I'm always impressed with the quality of Radio Prague's reporting - it seems out of proportion for a country and a station of your size, and in my mind rivals the 'big' European broadcasters like the BBC and Radio Netherlands. I've enjoyed listening in 2007, and I'll most definitely be tuning in during 2008 as well!”

Věra Čáslavská  (1942) Czech gymnast. She won three gold medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 and four gold medals at the 1968 games in Mexico. | Photo: ČTK
Thank you for those kind words and your reception report – and your QSL card is on its way to complete your 2007 collection. Such reports are always of great interest to our technical staff here at Czech Radio.

Have you heard Radio Prague’s transmission on an unusual frequency? Do let us know at [email protected]. We have a brand new collection of QSL cards to send you in return, this year featuring outstanding Czech athletes.

Now, last week the deadline passed for your entries into Radio Prague’s Christmas Competition. We had asked you to write a few words on the kind of music you enjoy listening to during the festive season.

We are glad that many of you found the time to sit down and write your stories. We have selected a winner and five runners-up. Those are: Brian Kendall from England, Jin Ok Um from South Korea, Qiu Lei from China, Praseetha Kizhakedath from India and Oscar Machuki from Kenya who all sent in lovely stories about their very special Christmas music. And the main prize goes to Krista Warstler from the United States. Congratulations!

Let’s now hear an excerpt from Krista’s entry.

“One of my favorite memories of Christmas is as a child. Listening to music was a popular thing around my home. Both parents being very musical helped! I had a deep appreciation for music in my younger days, and still do, as I teach music in a public school. The smell of the Christmas turkey or ham roasting in the oven, potatoes boiling to be mashed, candied yams waiting to dance in our mouths, other assorted vegetables and desserts ready to be placed on the dinner table, and the sound of music filtering throughout our home.

A favorite Christmas carol of my grandmother was ‘The Little Drummer Boy.’ To this day I still think of her and remember her beaming smile during this carol. None other than the Vienna Boys Choir to sing it as lovely as it could be sung! I had the opportunity to see the Vienna Boys Choir in person in my early years of teaching, and, of course, envisioned my grandma tapping a soft, gentle beat with the tune! I think back to how my parents gave their very best for my brother and me, whether at Christmas or any other time of the year.

Christmas was a wonderful time with my family; how can one forget the cheery atmosphere, the smell of turkey or ham, the pumpkin pie, and listening or singing the timeless carols that will always hold dear in my heart. I try to give a part of this tradition to my children. And what more do we want than to give our very best!”

A brief look back there at the festive season, with the winning Radio Prague Christmas competition entry by Krista Warstler from the United States.

But you can always take part in Radio Prague’s monthly quiz.

Our January mystery man was a Jewish scholar and chief rabbi in Prague in the latter half of the 16th century. He is buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague and many legends are connected to his personality.

If you think you know who this contemporary of Emperor Rudolph II was, you can send your answer to [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague by the end of January. Until next week, bye-bye, and happy listening!