|World radio - your views|
We'd like you to send in contributions to our discussion on the role of international broadcasting today. We launched the discussion on Mailbox, our weekly programme devoted to your letters, on 24th April 2005. Here are some contributions so far. Please keep them coming in at:
or by snail mail:
Radio Prague, 120 99 Prague, Czech Republic.
"I believe that the role of international broadcasting remains the
same today as it has in the past -- to inform and entertain. I
am glad that I can turn to some of the larger broadcasters to
get news and analysis from around the world, but I feel that it
is a shame to no longer get the culture and entertainment
programming from these broadcasters' originating countries.
It is my opinion that smaller broadcasters can fill a niche not
offered by the global news providers by maintaining a diverse
programming schedule. When I tune to a station, such as Radio
Prague, I want to hear some of the local news as well as the
local perspective on global events. But that alone does not keep
me tuning in to a station. What I enjoy is learning more about a
country through stories about people, places, culture, history,
art, music, sport, etc. I feel that overall Radio Prague does a
very good job at generating and maintaining this type of
diversity and thereby providing welcome insight into the Czech
There are several stations that I would listen to on occasion,
but since they phased out their shortwave service (at least to
North America), I have not gone looking for them on the
internet. So those broadcasters have made it more difficult to
hear their programming, from my perspective. I understand that
there are budget constraints. And there is no doubt that the
internet is a convenient way to access current and past
programming, assuming one has access to a computer, preferably
with a high speed connection. But shortwave broadcasts are a
widely available, economic, low-tech way for listeners to learn
about and/or stay in touch with many places around the world,
hearing the local perspective. That is not to mention that radio
allows for the possibility of unexpected discoveries while
tuning up and down the frequencies. That is something that the
internet cannot match."
Wilmington, Ohio, USA
"I would like to contribute a bit to debate on what is really good
First of all, I am sure broadcaster from particular country MUST
be individual, not copying news from International Press Agencies
but producing ones by own personnel, spotlighting events in the
host country contrary to broadcaster delivering news from the
target country. It must highlight all sides of living in host
country: not only political but cultural, social, business, music
of all kinds produced in host country both classical and modern.
Competitions are also a good tool to make foreign listeners
research answers to questions about broadcaster's country. Be
polite, try not to insult people of different cultures and
mentality. All of these are obvious advices, of course, and Radio
Prague, in particular, is one of those who are very close to my
understading of how should international broadcaster work."
My best wishes,
Sergey M. Kolesov
"I think that even though this is a relatively small station as regards
international broadcasting, your presence should still be made felt
even if it's just a small part of, for example, a big operation, if
it's DRM [digital AM] or satellite or even contributing to one global
programme of international broadcasters. [...] I like the news because
it's local and it's not full of international events, because I tune in
to Czech Radio to get news on Prague, which is what you're providing
and what I'm looking for."
"I'm afraid that there are a number of people who prefer other means of
transmission than listening. But shortwave will always be tops with me.
I just enjoy the challenge for one thing, I enjoy the fact that you can
take your receiver anywhere and probably pick up something. This, I
think, is important for travelers."
"Shortwave listeners like to listen to news stations and hear what's
going on in the country. Hopefully, all the stations will stay on
shortwave. It's going on to satellite but not everyone has access to
the satellite. When you're travelling, you cannot bring a satellite
dish. It's nice to have a small radio to tune in. I'm trying to
encourage my nephew - he's only seven years old. He could not believe
when I said: This station is coming from this country. And he was
amazed. [...] It's nice to hear what's happening in the country. From
music to what's happening tourist-wise, sports, if you're interested in
sports, maybe interviews with people, normal people and what they think
of people living outside the Czech Republic."
"Radio Prague should CONTINUE TO DO WHAT IT DOES BEST....BROADCAST TO THE WORLD ON SHORTWAVE RADIO, AND HAVE THEIR INTERNET AND SATELLITE TRANSMISSIONS AS SUPPLEMENTS TO RADIO BROADCASTS....I state this in capital letters because one too many Eurocasters, and some outside Europe have abandoned transmitting their programs on Shortwave Radio, and have decided
to alienate their listeners by putting them on the Internet and Satellite...Modes of communications that require subscriptions and are not always as reliable as some may think....Too many Shortwave outlets have gone this way, which appears to be the in
thing to do....While Shortwave Radio may not be as sexy as the internet or satellite technology, it still is a solid means of transmitting a broadcasters programs throughout the world even when conditions are not very good as they are right now during
the down slope of the sunspot cycle....Also contrary to popular belief, Shortwave Radio is still being used by many a listener, as it is economical and portable, unlike the "sexy" modes of
radio transmission..(you can't take a PC on a picnic, and batteries for Laptops are expensive!!!)...I would hope that Radio Prague and the remaining Eurocasters on the SW bands would remain there, and not go the short-sighted route of the BBC, DW, SRI,
RVI and I am sure a few others that I missed, by abandoning it's Shortwave audience....I hope to hear you on the SW bands for years to come, and I hope to hear your reply to this
Pittsburgh, PA USA
"My personal opinion, aside from any acquired data, is that Radio Praha has an opportunity to extend and express the unique, and shrinking Czech culture, ESPECIALLY through programs about Czech music, authors, scientists, scholars, even food and humor, where the more bland "24-hour newssites" as Mr. Vaughan so aptly described, remove the unique aspects of that which identifies (culturally) the places from which they broadcast. I believe
Radio Praha has the opportunity to maintain its own unique (and therefore, valuable)
niche by presenting its individual and rich resource, unlike the bland alternatives, of Czech culture in a "sea of monotony", and in the face of eventual "Czech" dissolution as simply one more bank of "european" cities offering a plethora of the same products, services and people as any other. Will Praha just be another Berlin, or Amsterdam, or? Only time will tell..."
Don Schumann, Ing.
"For me Radio Prague had exactly the right format as it is. I am not trying to be polite by saying that. Its half-hour duration is a convenient length for me, and I suspect also for many of its other international listeners, and I think you have a well balanced programme content.
That is easy to say without giving any explanation, so here are my reasons.
Firstly the role of Radio Prague must be determined. Is it the same as the BBC? Not quite, I think, or at least, they don't have the same goals. At home my main listening is to BBC Radio 4, at least when the content is similar to Radio Prague or has documentaries or feature programmes. I appreciate shows like "Just a Minute" being interspersed in its schedule. It
provides a probably needed light relief to brighten up the service. To me it is important that the BBC includes programmes like "Just a Minute" in the Radio 4 schedule because I tune to that station because of its overall content and I would not make the effort to retune to another station just to hear such light entertainment.
I can receive the BBC "rolling news" television channel, BBC News 24, but I hardly ever view it. I like to watch my news at predetermined times and I do not like the frequent repetition of the rolling news stations.
The BBC World service may be targeting a different audience. They are not exactly a rolling news station yet but they are trying to be a continuous, 24 hour service. When I worked a permanent night shift I did regularly listen to the World Service, fortunately at that time the "rolling" character had not become too overbearing. A listener can still choose his
own segment of the transmission on a regular basis without too much repetition. Just how many people appreciate light entertainment on the World Service I would not know. It is
obvious that the Radio Prague English Service is not aiming to be a 24 hour service. Radio Moscow tried that with its English service once and failed.
There are many international radio stations that broadcast a higher content of news, but on concentrating on straight news I do not think they give an in-depth picture of the country they are representing. I would include stations like Deutsche Welle, Radio France International, Radio Moscow, and many more in that category."
"I heard your director on Mailbox on Sunday requesting listener input on what an international broadcaster should be doing, especially one from a smaller country like the Czech Republic.
I must say that I very much enjoy Radio Prague as I believe it strikes a good balance between news and current affairs on the one hand, and features on the other. I have more comments on the subject, but I'll save them for another letter when I have
the time to sit down and put my comments down in a more considered manner.
I found the report on the row between President Klaus and some MEPs over the EU Constitution interesting. What struck me was how shocked the MEPs seemed to be that anybody would have the unmitigated gall to oppose them. To be honest, from what I
hear on the various international broadcasts, Klaus is right: your business report this week had an item on the EU setting road pricing fees (and fighting with Austria over its tolls on
trans-Alpine motorways), which is worse than anything similar we'd see here in the States. The tiny state of Delaware, which has about 40km of the main motorway on the east coast, has relatively high tolls along this stretch of motorway. And yet, even though everybody realizes this is purely a revenue-generating scheme, nobody would dream of having Congress
New York USA
Comments by Radio Prague's editor-in-chief, David Vaughan, on our listeners' letters programme, Mailbox (24th April 2005):
"I was recently listening to a programme on the BBC World Service, discussing listeners' letters. A programme manager was explaining why the World Service had decided to discontinue light entertainment. He took the example of the legendary comedy panel show "Just a Minute", saying words to the effect that: 'someone talking about rice pudding for 60 seconds could hardly be considered serious radio.' As a lifelong radio fan, I have to admit that I was rather surprised. Are we really moving inexorably towards a world where international broadcasting is synonymous with 24-hour news? I'd like to launch a debate involving our own listeners - to ask you what you think makes good radio, and where should international broadcasting - especially a small station like Radio Prague - be heading? I hope that your contributions will also give us inspiration in our future programming."