Vlastimil Ježek: Life on a sine wave
Written by: Monika Mudranincová
Photo: Matt Writtle
A boiler room stoker, an educator of mentally handicapped children, a student leader in 1989, a journalist, and, mainly, the head of Czech Radio in the nineties. Vlastimil Ježek (39) was all of these, and he is now the manager of Naše rodina (Our Family) magazine and a small marketing firm.
“I’VE ENJOYED everything I’ve done,” Ježek claims. He first drew attention to himself in November 1989 as a student activist stirring up his schoolmates at the Charles University school of philosophy, urging them to resist the communist regime of that time. After graduating in Czech language and history, he worked in several newspaper editorial offices, finally settling with the daily Práce, where in 1993 he decided to write an article about what was going on behind the scenes in the tender for Czech Radio’s general director. He decided to take part in the tender, and much to his surprise he won. He didn’t have time to write the article, and describes his feelings at being catapulted to the top of a company with 3,000 employees: “I felt so ridiculous that at first I didn’t even realize what had happened. I was so busy in the first years that all my working days blurred together.” But he sees his six years there as relatively successful. “We were able to cut the number of employees in half and to instill a certain order,” he says, adding that Czech Radio had the most listeners of any station in the country at that time.
He sees his greatest failure as his inability to establish Czech Radio 4, a new station for young listeners. “Unfortunately, we left an entirely clear field to commercial radio stations,” he laments. After leaving Czech Radio in 1999, Ježek was named general commissioner for the Czech representation at Expo 2000 in Hanover, but a mere five months before its start he resigned. In November 1999 he signed the appeal, “Thank you – now leave”, and his presence in such a public position was no longer desirable. When his face ceased to attract the media, he spent his energy on his marketing firm, which offers services focusing on communication, and in April 2000 he became editor-in-chief of Naše rodina (Our Family), a weekly with about 80,000 mostly elderly readers.
But Ježek has far from lost his interest in public affairs and the political situation. Like other former student leaders, he too is dissatisfied with the current political state. So he has decided, as a supporter of the recently established European Democrats party, to run as an independent for the Prague city council in November’s local elections.