New Radio Prague feature unearths Czech Radio gems

Starting next Thursday, our colleague David Vaughan will be introducing new series entitled From the Archives. As the name suggest he'll be dusting off some of the many unique recordings to be found in the archives of the Czech Radio. I asked David what drew him to explore the archives in the first place.

David Vaughan
"Well what is so fascinating is that Czech Radio has a fantastic sound archive and it goes right back to the 1920s. Regular archives were kept from the time when it was still known as Radiozurnal in the mid 1920s and we have a huge wealth of archive material. And quite interestingly a lot of that material, surprisingly enough, is in English. So maybe we can listen now just to what a Radio Prague station announcement would have sounded back in 1927"

"Hello, hello. Prague Czechoslovakia calling. Good evening ladies and gentlemen."

"So, really not so much has changed. It's the familiar Radio Prague talking to the world."

When you were skimming through the archives, did you have any idea what you were looking for?

"Well I have spent a lot of time over the years I have been at Radio Prague looking through archives and there are, in English as well as in Czech, some fascinating recordings, for example early life sport reports, not to mention the huge wealth of musical recordings which I am not really going to be looking at in this series."

"And there are just some fascinating gems which are extremely early. For example we have a recording from 1932 of the president and founder of Czechoslovakia Tomas Garrigue Masaryk speaking in English. I would like us to hear a little extract maybe of Masaryk talking about the wonders of broadcasting."

"Broadcasting is becoming one of the most popular bonds of union among the nations as well as one of the most suitable instruments for the spread of culture and art and of political education."

"So that was president Masaryk way back in 1932 and it's amazing to think that it is somebody speaking who was born in 1850. So that really is a bridge to the past."

Did you set yourself some time limit?

"Well, it starts in 1928. And really the archives go through some fascinating periods. Just to name a few, we have the Sudeten German crisis in 1938 which ended with the Munich agreement, the drama of the Prague Uprising of May 1945. And we have got the Communist takeover in 1948, we have got the occupation by Soviet-led Warsaw pact troops in August 1968 and than of course it goes right up to the present day, to the Velvet revolution of 1989 and then we have other events more recently - the division of Czechoslovakia, we have the Czechs winning a gold medal in ice-hockey in Nagano in 1998 so there really is a huge wealth of material there."

For those of you who would like to hear these and other recordings, don't forget to tune in every Thursday. The series will be running until the end of March 2008.