This week in Mailbox: Radio Prague's test frequency for North America; McDonald's in the Czech Republic; Catholics and Protestants in the Czech Republic. Listeners quoted: Martin Gallas, Robert Botik, Mary Lou Krenek, Lynda-Marie Hauptman, US; K. Thiagarajan, India.

Thank you very much for the reception reports, letters and e-mails that you keep sending to us, and also the Christmas greetings that have started arriving.

First of all, let's deal with some shortwave business. Martin Gallas from the United States has sent us this query:

"Dear Radio Prague, I think someone pushed the wrong buttons on Monday at 0405 UTC and sent out the English program on 6100 instead of 6200! I heard the whole program very well on my Sony. Please tell me if others also heard this unannounced frequency at this time. Happy Holidays!"

As a matter of fact it was no mistake. The frequency you heard is Radio Prague's new experimental channel for the 0400 UTC programme in English. It is a relay transmission via the Sackville transmitter site in Canada and it has been on the air since the beginning of the present winter schedule. The frequency was confirmed too late to get into our printed frequency schedule but it has been added to the frequency list on our website You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and there you will find it. We have received quite a number of reception reports since it started last month, most of them praising the quality of the reception.

Robert Botik, also from the United States, more precisely from Texas, is another shortwave enthusiast.

"I have been listening to Radio Prague since 1956. Things have certainly changed but some things have not, such as your bent on reading letters from grumpy disgruntled Americans. In my radio room I have a beautiful Radio Prague silk calendar you sent me for the year 1958. I have it proudly displayed behind glass. Keep up the good work, and please, let's hear from happy Americans and not just losers who just want to gripe. The majority of your listeners are happy and well-adjusted, we just don't write but about every 30 years or so."

Thanks very much for that e-mail. We do appreciate all letters, be they nice or be they critical. With all our listeners scattered around the globe, we rely solely on your letters for feedback. Anyway, let's now hear from a "happy" American, Mary Lou Krenek also from Texas.

"My best wishes are sent to my dear friends at Radio Prague for St. Nicholas Day. I hope the 'devil', the 'cert', did not bring you any switches! Thank you for publishing my remarks about the American icon, McDonald's. I was trying to get the message across that having a McDonald's in Prague is so historical since its founder was Czech-American. It makes it even more historical since it could be located there only after the fall of Communism. But, let me add. You do eat there at your own risk because the Hamburgers and French Fries, etc. are not healthy for you. They have added salads to their menu and other health conscious choices."

With Christmas time fast approaching, we've been receiving Christmas-themed questions. In connection with Christmas celebrations, our listener K. Thiagarajan from India would like to know whether Czechs are mainly Protestants or Catholics.

The Czech Republic has over 10 million inhabitants. In the latest national census in 2001, 3,300,000 Czechs declared themselves as believers. That's some 32 percent of the population. The vast majority are Roman Catholics with some 2,740,000 adherents. As for the reformed, or Protestant, churches, 171,000 Czechs said they were members of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and 99,000 were members of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church.

Among the remaining 330,000 believers, there were 23,000 Jehovah's Witnesses as many Orthodox Christians and 14,000 members of the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession. Over 6 million Czechs said they did not believe in God and some 900,000 Czechs didn't declare anything.

And Lynda-Marie Hauptman from the state of Washington in the USA would like us to clarify some political terms we use in our reports.

"I have been reading the daily bulletins regularly for the last few years now. I like the idea that I can keep an eye on my dad's beloved homeland and see for myself that the Czechs are doing all right. What I am curious about is Czech politics. I keep reading the descriptions 'right of center' or 'left of center' with regards to your political parties. What do those terms mean?

In Czech politics the terms "conservative" and "liberal" mean something slightly different and that's why we use the terms "right-of-centre", referring to parties which generally advocate free-market principles, lower taxes and a reduced role of the state. Left-of-centre parties, on the other hand, are those who are in favour of a stronger state with an emphasis on a social safety net, in exchange for higher taxes. That's a bit simplified but I hope it has made things clearer.

And we're running out of time now so we need to repeat Radio Prague's competition question for December.

Our mystery woman was a wildlife conservationist and author who won wide recognition for her observations on animal behaviour in Africa. She is best known for her books, in which she describes the life of the lioness Elsa, raised in the family household and then released into the wild. She was born in the north-eastern town of Opava. She went to Kenya at the age of 27, where she got married and lived for the rest of her life. She died in 1980.

Please send us the name of our mystery woman by the end of December to the usual address, Radio Prague, 120 99 Prague, Czech Republic or [email protected].