Emil Zatopek

This week in Mailbox: Marathons in the Czech Republic; rent control; Science in the Streets project; RP on shortwave and the mysterious presenter Petr Skala; a look back at the annual listeners' competition. Listerners quoted: Teodor Shepertycki, Canada; Mark Coviello, Chris Krug, Mary Lou Krenek, US; Mukesh N. Tekwani, India; James Garvin, Northern Ireland.

Emil Zatopek | Photo: Roger Rössing,  Deutsche Fotothek,  CC BY-SA 3.0 DE
Hello and welcome to Mailbox.

Thank you very much for all the letters and e-mails we have received from you over the past week. Today, we will start with this one sent in by Teodor Shepertycki from Ottawa, Canada.

"In Canada, as elsewhere in North America, 'marathons' are being run everywhere. In the 1952 Olympic Games a remarkable Czech by the name of Emil Zatopek captured gold in the 5 km, the 10 km, AND the marathon, all in record times. I don't believe this feat has ever been duplicated. This led me to think that if there was any country where a marathon was named after a famous runner, such as 'Emil Zatopek', it might be in the Czech Republic. This assumes that marathons, or similar long distance races, are popular in the Czech Republic."

The major marathon event in the Czech Republic is the Prague International Marathon, which has been taking place every year since 1995 when 1,500 runners participated in it. This year over 4,000 runners from 60 countries took part. Strange though it may seem, no major such event has been named after Emil Zatopek in this country.

In June we broadcast an interview with Girolamo Giormani who is fighting for the rights of property owners in the Czech Republic. In response to that programme, we got this e-mail from Mark Coviello from the United States.

"I sympathize with Mr. Giormani. Of course he wants to make a profit on his apartment buildings. He thought the winds of change would come sooner for him. Who makes money in real estate in the Czech Republic? Here in the U.S. we know real estate will eventually reap a profit. You can't kick out a little old lady, but you should be able to de-stabilize the subsequent rents of their forebears. Good luck to him and all the others pursuing the capitalistic dream!"

From business to science, Mukesh N. Tekwani from India heard our report on a project trying to attract more young people to pursue scientific careers.

"Your item on 'Science in the Streets' - persuading young people to study science - was interesting. It's sad to know that science education has suffered all over, including in Europe, which is generally considered as the cradle of science! I would be interested in getting in touch with individuals, organizations or colleges involved in science popularization. I also would be very much delighted to exchange information with like-minded individuals in other places to do our bit for science popularization. By the way, I am a physics professor here in India."

From the other side of the globe, Chris Krug from the United States has sent us this brief note:

"I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoy your programming. This afternoon I tuned into your broadcast on 11600 kHz, I found your story on Czech filmmakers and your interview with the foreign minister very interesting. I've been a shortwave listener for 20 years and your station has always been one of my favorites, I especially enjoy your Jazz music programs. I hope you continue to broadcast on shortwave for years to come, you really do have a dedicated following over here in the US."

And James Garvin from Northern Ireland is another shortwave enthusiast.

Olda Cip
"I used to listen to Radio Prague in the late 60's 70's and possibly 80's, particularly the DX Programme which I see is now dropped. What became of the announcer, Peter Skala. Is he still alive and where does he live. Recently I have come back to the shortwave hobby and still treasure your QSL card which I received in 1969."

I must say that I only found out about the mysterious presenter Petr Skala about a month ago. He is in fact our shortwave expert Oldrich, or Olda Cip whom I quote quite often here in Mailbox and who answers your queries concerning reception, transmitters and the like. He used the pseudonym back then because his real name on the air would have been too difficult for an untrained ear. Olda is very well and still busy working in Czech Radio.

Two weeks ago in Mailbox David Vaughan announced the winners of Radio Prague's annual competition. In response to that we got this e-mail from our regular listener Mary Lou Krenek, Texas, U.S.A.

"It was a pleasant surprise to see who was the winner of the 2006 Radio Prague Competition! Dimitriy Balykin from Russia wrote a wonderful, objective, summary of the Prague Uprising in 1945. He really expressed his thoughts and the truth of the situation very well. His comments for the subway and the clock were probably as equally well written. If you can, publish them for us to read. And, I am very happy he is from Russia. He elevated the historical situation to the high plane of thought giving everyone involved some due credit. He should be a diplomat. Whenever the winners of the yearly competitions are chosen, my admiration is quite high for the winners for they truly deserved the prizes. You do a great job in selecting the winners."

You will have a chance to hear some of the runner-up entries in our future programmes as we plan to read out excerpts from them. The full essay by Mr Balykin translated into English as well as the list of the runners-up can be seen on our website

And before I go, here is our monthly competition question.

"If you follow Radio Prague regularly, you will find this question quite easy. We would like you to tell us the name of a Czech-born American anthropologist who was one of the first scientists to pronounce a theory that all humans are the descendants of one common ancestor."

You have until the end of July to send us your answers to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or much quicker to [email protected].