This week in Mailbox: audio problems in Radio Prague broadcasts; hurricane Katrina; winner of August competition. Listeners quoted: David Eldridge, England; Russ, US; Roberto Alvarez-Galloso, US; Henrik Klementz, Sweden; Gina Cenkl, US; Teodor Shepertycki, Canada; Mary Lou Krenek, US; Don Schumann, US; Amela Omerspahic-Jakubovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Welcome to Mailbox - the programme in which we answer your questions and address your comments. Last week we quoted a listener's complaint about the audio quality of our broadcasts in Britain. In response to that we got an e-mail from David Eldridge who lives in England.

"Regarding the comment about transmission quality to Britain, the signal, whilst clear and without interference, is very weak at the moment on 5930 kHz. This is common at this time of year on that frequency. As the days get shorter the quality should improve very soon. There also have been some solar storms recently that may have had some effect."

And a listener called Russ from somewhere in cyberspace sent us this message:

"I caught your 'Mailbox' last night with the complaint about bad audio. I was listening on WRN English on Intelsat Americas 5. The audio sounded bad. On audio peaks the sound was 'gargled'. This wasn't ordinary analogue clipping. The level was peaking below -10 dBFS as I recall (WRN is usually low in comparison to other broadcasters). Maybe it's some bad MPEG encode/decode cycle? In any case it was annoying to listen to. I switched to Radio Netherlands English also on IA-5."

We are very sorry to hear that and now that our technical experts have more information, they will hopefully be able to locate the problem and find out whether it is something we can influence.

Photo: CTK
On a different subject. Much of the world media this week has been dominated by the hurricane Katrina that devastated large areas of the United States south coast. Our regular listener Roberto Alvarez-Galloso from Miami, Florida, sent us this e-mail.

"I would like to thank you for the entertainment you provided to me via short wave radio during Hurricane Katrina. I was without electricity but without short wave stations like yours, I would not have survived mentally."

We are touched to hear that, Roberto, and our hearts go out to those who lost family members and friends in the natural disaster.

Now, as another month has passed it is time to announce the winner of Radio Prague's August competition. We asked you to tell us the name of the man who was born in 1943 in the Canary Islands to a Spanish mother and a Czech father and made a staggering career in shoe design.

No, we are not talking about Tomas Bata as some of you wrote. Our mystery man is no other than the famous Manolo Blahnik. His shoes were made even more famous by the US television series Sex and the City where the character Carrie Bradshaw played by Sarah-Jessica Parker is a huge fan of Manolos - as the shoes came to be known. Our listener Henrik Klementz from Sweden has even sent us an excerpt from an internet discussion about whether it is true that women have their little toes amputated in order to be able to wear Manolo Blahnik's shoes. Well, if anyone knows about that, please let us know.

Gina Cenkl from Boston, USA, has sent us this e-mail:

"From bananas to shoes, what a jump for Manolo Blahnik. What an achievement. With only two stores, one in London the other in New York, what a business he is doing! Blahnik has settled upon a successful formula for his collection: a combination of 'occasional avant-garde looks for the affluent few'. As a person not belonging to the above mentioned group (one can always dream), I had fun reading about Manolo's life."

And Teodor Shepertycki from Canada had this to say:

"I find that, almost always, in searching for the answers to your monthly questions I learn something new. For example, it's not often that a person's name becomes synonymous with their creations. In this case, the word "Manolo" has come to describe very expensive, very beautiful shoes. Quite a tribute I would say!"

And Mary Lou Krenek from Texas:

"It would be nice to acquire a pair of his creations one time in my life. They must be quite expensive. One titbit about his early life is he would create shoes for his pet dog. This four-legged creature was his first client wearing different creations with bows!"

Don Schumann from Colorado sent us a quote. This is what Manolo Blahnik reportedly said about formal training in shoe making:

"I didn't need it because I've got the best taste in the world."

Thank you for those nice little stories and quotes and the time you took researching. But unfortunately there can only be one winner each month and this time the lucky one is Amela Omerspahic-Jakubovic from Sarajevo.

"I'm interested in fashion so I already knew the answer. It is Manolo Blahnik. Maybe this month, the prize could be a pair of shoes by this designer."

Congratulations, Amela! I'm afraid Radio Prague's budget doesn't quite allow us such luxuries but I agree it would be apt. But I hope you will like the CD of Czech legendary singer Waldemar Matuska we are sending you.

And finally a brand new question for September. This time our mystery person is a woman.

"She was born in 1965 in the Moravian town of Prostejov. Her parents left Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion and moved to Sweden. They left their two children behind believing they could be brought out later. But the Czechoslovak authorities would not allow it and the ensuing battle for the kids made headlines in Sweden. Finally the family reunited after seven years but the father soon left the family. As a teenager, our mystery woman was discovered by a photographer friend who sent photos of her to a modelling agency. She quickly became a successful model appearing on the covers of prestigious magazines. She was chosen twice by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world and also appeared in a number of movies."

Please send us your answers by the end of September to the usual address Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, Czech Republic or Until next week, thanks for listening.