The international service of Czech Radio 
20-9-2017, 02:03 UTC
 
Simon Mason, England

Prague has a very special place in my memory, largely due to the role played by Radio Prague itself. The original interval signal from the early 1970s was very recognisable all over the short waves and encouraged me to tune in to the last news from Czechoslovakia. As I listened, I became interested in life behind the iron curtain and your station was one of the most open and interesting of the Warsaw pact stations, even if your announcers had a peculiar way of ending sentences! Prague also conjures up images of great beer halls such as the world famous U Fleku. I can picture myself in the Knight Hall or perhaps Vaclav's Room with a glass of beer and a dish of bacon dumplings, smoked pork and perhaps a little sauerkraut and horseradish on the side. Truly a beer drinker's paradise!

As a fan of the space race, I also followed the flight of the first non-Soviet or American to travel into space with great interest. This cosmonaut was Vladimir Remek, who in 1978 visited the Salyut 6 space station. Later, he became Deputy Director of the Flight Research Institute in Prague.

Then of course there is the beautiful architecture. Wonderful romantic streets and buildings largely untouched by modern developments. In short, Prague is a magnificent city for a weekend break, or a summer holiday.

However, the most enduring impression of Prague to a short wave radio enthusiast such as I is its unique place in radio history. It was the home to a very strange form of transmission, a station so obscure that very few people would have ever heard of it, let alone actually tuned in.

A small street in Prague called Nad Stolou houses the Ministry of the Interior, or Ministerstvo Vnitra in Czech. In the early 1990s a strange radio station broadcast from this building, sending odd messages to uknown persons. This station was one of the so called number stations which do nothing other than send five figure groups out into the ether. The Prague station was unique amongst the examples in other countries in that it was quite open in its activities.

It was the only number station to actually send out a QSL or confirmation of reception card to its listeners, of which I managed to obtain a couple of examples. It also used a proper call sign called OLX, although officially OLX was in fact issued to the Czech Press Agency CETEKA. OLX operated 23 hours per day with mind numbing precision in both Morse code and voice formats.

At the top of the hour a Morse signal tapping out VVV DE OLX would begin. Then, either a Czech female voice appeared repeating something like Yedna Dva Yedna over and over, or Morse sending the same thing. The actual message consisted of five figure groups read out with a robot like rhythm. "Pyet, Deviet, Shtiri, Shi, Nolla" , Dva, Dva, Nolla, Shi, Pyet" and so on. This would go on for ages, inducing a soporific state of mind. A voice coming straight from the heart of the Czech capital sending a message to whom? No one knows.

So when I think of the city of Prague, it's this mysterious station that springs to mind, sadly ended in 1996. A simple lesson in Czech number pronunciation from a mysterious lady. Read about and hear this station on my website at http://www.simonmason.karoo.net/page61.html
Konec!

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