This Saturday, March 19th, is the tenth anniversary of the first broadcast by Radio Slovakia International. The station was established soon after the split of Czechoslovakia at the beginning of 1993, and now broadcasts in English, French, German, Russian and of course Slovak. And to mark the station's tenth anniversary, a new Spanish service is being launched this weekend. Radio Prague's David Vaughan is in Bratislava for the birthday celebrations. I asked him if Radio Slovakia really had to begin from scratch in 1993?
"Yes, I was already working for Radio Prague, or it was called Radio Czechoslovakia at the time, and with the split of the federation basically what happened was that the Czech part pretty much carried on absolutely as normal. On the other hand, the Slovaks had to start from scratch. They decided to start broadcasting abroad pretty much immediately. There was legislation passed and the department was set up very quickly and at the end of March, 1993 they started broadcasting."
Ten years after, is there much cooperation between us here at Radio Prague and our colleagues in Slovakia?
"Yes, there is quite a lot. We've always remained on very friendly terms, the Velvet Divorce as it were was a friendly split. I've been to visit Radio Slovakia International on many occasions over the last ten years. And we have several concrete projects, for example our German sections produce a common magazine programme, a Czech-Slovak magazine, once a month. We work together on various projects, such as the Radio E project in English, French and German, which is a co-production between several European stations. And also in English of course on Insight Central Europe."
This is probably hard to tell but would you say there's an overlapping listenership, so to speak?
"I think there's very much an overlapping listenership, a lot of people who listen to Radio Prague listen to Radio Slovakia, and vice versa. We're very close on the dial. Radio Slovakia actually has a certain advantage over us on short-wave, that they have stronger transmitters than we have, so there signal is slightly better than ours. In fact some people even say that, because we're close to each other on the dial - certainly in Europe on the 5930 frequency that we broadcast on - some people say that there is sometimes interference between the two stations, but that of course isn't any kind of deliberate measure."
So you don't see Radio Slovakia as competition?
"I think on the contrary that co-operation between the smaller stations is the way to the future, that we really need work hard together and to find as many ways as possible of working together."
And you can find out more about Radio Slovakia International at www.slovakradio.sk/rsi/
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