Multi-media event marks 100th anniversary of first wireless voice transmission

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Prague's Roxy club was the venue on Wednesday evening for the Czech part of an annual event entitled Art's Birthday (as in the birthday of art). This year's theme was the 100th anniversary of the first wireless transmission of the human voice. Art's Birthday has its roots in the 1960s Fluxus movement and the only condition is that it must be an international exchange. In this country, Czech Radio's Vltava station broadcast the event live on the airwaves and on the internet. I spoke to the station's Michal Rataj just before it began.

"For the third time as Czech Radio we are celebrating Art's Birthday Party, together with a lot of public service radio stations and a lot of independent artistic communities around the world. The main theme tonight is a hundred years of radio, so it's a very radiophonic event.

"We tried to set up a dramaturgy which would reflect particular aspects of radio as a medium of the 21st century.

"It's a very complex project, you have to communicate with other radio stations within the European Broadcasting Union, you have to manage separately the live event, the live broadcast and even the live satellite broadcast, which is realised under the EBU."

The first ever wireless broadcast of voice was on December 24 1906. You are celebrating its 100th anniversary on January 17 - why not the actual date itself?

"The main producer is the EBU's Ars Acustica group, which is a group of producers. Last year in Stockholm at our annual meeting we decided to focus on this point, which was the closest one to January 17. So that's the point. Just to commemorate something which has been so important for radio as a medium."

You're marking the anniversary largely using internet. How much do you think will internet play a part in the future of radio?

"I think the internet might serve as a sort of database, a network, which might provide enlargement of the traditional thinking about radio.

"It can provide a mass storage space for the radio archive, for parallel things running both on the internet and the radio, as we are doing tonight. I understand internet as an intensification of communication between people, between cultures.

"Radio is mostly a national thing. Internet is a very international thing which a lot of users can share. And this is an experience which I think the radio makes more attractive nowadays."

By the way, the first extended broadcast of the human voice was transmitted through the air on December 24 1906 from Brant Rock, Massachusetts. It was by a Canadian engineer called Reginald Aubrey Fessenden.