The international service of Czech Radio 
25-9-2021, 05:33 UTC
World radio - your views

Talking about radio...

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 Republic.
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."

Best wishes,
Stephen Hrebenach
Wilmington, Ohio, USA

"I would like to contribute a bit to debate on what is really good international broadcaster.
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
Kiev, Ukraine

"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."

Christopher Lewis
United Kingdom

"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."

Gerald Kercher,
Connecticut, USA

"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."

Edward Dunne,

"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 e-mail....Thank you...."

Vince Ponzio
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..."

s pozdravem,
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."


David  Eldridge,
United Kingdom

"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  pass legislation."

Ted Schuerzinger
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."