Radio Prague goes back on air
For a few weeks just after the fall of communism, Radio Prague went silent. Its days as a tool in the Cold War were over. After huge staff cuts, and with the old communist managers gone, Radio Prague went back on air early in 1990. A new era began for the English Section, and with so many sweeping social and economic changes under way, there was plenty to report about.
A familiar sound to Radio Prague listeners was the jingle of the weekly programme “Probe”, which used to look at some of the issues of the day. Here is an extract from an edition of Probe from 1991, presented by John Tregellas.
With a growing threat of beef mountains and milk lakes, John Tregellas’s report went on to look at Czechoslovakia’s hopes of finding new export markets in the European Union, then still known as the European Community. But opening trade also meant exposing farmers to greater competition.
“While looking for new outlets for surplus production, Czechoslovakia will have to take care that its own domestic market is not swamped with foreign imports. Since the opening of the borders, there’s been a massive increase in the number of Western food products commonly available on supermarket shelves here. Amongst the commonest are canned soft drinks, yoghurts and vegetable margarines.”
Radio Prague went on to ask Jaroslav Voráček from Prague’s Agricultural University, whether moves had been taken to curb food imports, and he gave an unambiguous answer:
In the years that followed, domestic consumption of agricultural produce did recover, but the share of agriculture in the Czech GDP has continued to fall steadily. In next week’s programme we’ll be looking at how Radio Prague reported on the first wave of foreign investors coming to Czechoslovakia after 1989.