Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Radio Prague - Another R.I.P., I'm Afraid ...

I don't really want to appear to be a "doom and gloom merchant", but a chance series of events caused me to learn that we (shortwave listeners) are about to lose another source of programming on shortwave, that of the very well known and respected "Radio Prague".

The sequence of events to which I refer started with the fitting of a 6kHz AM filter to one of my "classic" old transceivers, my FT-107M.

The filter was acquired from a fellow amateur who had acquired an FT-101ZD complete with said filter, but who wanted to return it to its "factory condition". For those not in the know, the FT-101ZD though equipped with AM facilities (a special board had to be acquired) had a rather lame implementation of this mode due to the way the "IF Shift" was connected (long story). The bottom line of this tale was that this particular FT-101ZD owner and myself eventually figured out what the previous owner had done and the modification was successfully undone, and the grateful new owner awarded me the unwanted AM filter as my reward!

This was a mutually acceptable arrangement, and today was the day I decided I would fit this filter to my FT-107M, as that particular radio implements the AM mode "properly".

The fitting of the filter to this radio was simplicity itself, and when it was done I decided to have a little tune around the 7MHz, or "41 metre" band looking for broadcast signals.

In early morning there is no shortage of strong signals from Europe, and before long I found myself listening to Radio Prague on 7.345MHz for the umpteenth time in my life.

As is usual these days shortly before the radio station closed down its English broadcast the announcer gave out some information about how to find Radio Prague on the Web (, and a few minutes later I surfed into that very web site, like one does.

To my dismay my eyes alighted straight away onto a piece entitled "Radio Prague's shortwave broadcasting to end on January 31, 2011", the content of the article citing budget cuts as the reason why.

Now, the economics of shortwave broadcasting are a subject not unknown to me, as earlier in my life I worked in this medium, and was familiar enough with costs due to the fact that I actually signed cheques payable to the Regional Electricity Company who supplied the power to a major shortwave broadcasting station! Been there, done that, got the T-shirt ...

What I could never really relate to was the "value" in such broadcasting, as, being a Brit, I only ever was a "hobby" consumer of this medium. I was always told that overseas things were very different, and the average man-in-the street relied on shortwave to bring him news just as much, if not more so as he relied on his daily newspaper. I am sure this has been very true, but I wonder whether it is still true. I strongly suspect that it isn't, generally speaking, and, logically, many other broadcasting stations will soon be going the way of Radio Prague.

I would say, therefore, "enjoy them while you can" !

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