On March 16, students taking part in the Practical Skills for Radio course paid a visit to the Czech Radio headquarters in Vinohradská Street, just round the corner from the Prague College campus. Lecturer David Vaughan reports on the visit:
We started by the main entrance, where a long list of names reminds us of radio staff who perished during World War II and of those who gave their lives during the Prague Uprising in the last days of the German occupation. At that time, the radio building saw some of the toughest fighting in the city, a reminder that who controls the media was just as important in 1945 as it is today. A list of names on the other side of the entrance recalls those who were killed at the radio during the Soviet-led invasion twenty-three years later, in August 1968. Freedom of speech can come at a very high price and should never be taken for granted.
Once inside the building, we started by visiting the studios of Radio Wave, the newest and youngest Czech Radio station. Matouš Hrdina told us about the station’s work and its latest innovations, including a pioneering series of podcasts dealing with sexuality. The studios recently moved to the ground floor of the radio, right by the street, with the aim of creating a sense of openness and accessibility. They also stage regular concerts by Czech bands.
We moved on to the main newsroom, which is at the heart of the new radio building, hidden behind Vinohradská Street and completed some fifteen years ago in what is known affectionately as the neo-brutalist style! Here, amid the grey concrete and orange plastic, we had chat with one of Czech Radio’s most respected and seasoned correspondents, Robert Mikoláš, who has reported from all over the world, including conflict zones in Syria and Iraq. He had a warning for Prague College students: at a time of conflict and when civilians are caught in the crossfire, the journalist should never assume that things are black and white. He spoke vividly of the suffering he witnessed in both halves of Aleppo.
We spent a few minutes in the Radio Prague studios, where programmes are prepared in six different languages for the international service of Czech Radio, and we ended the visit talking to members of Radio Prague’s English Section. Last year, several Prague College students contributed to the section’s broadcasts and we hope to see more of the same this year."