(GIN) – Since its invention in 1895, the radio just won’t sit still. From a big box with lights, bulbs and dials, to a portable unit small enough for one’s pocket, to an app, to a unit you can set up at home, the radio has changed its look but continues to have a singular role as a force for human rights around the world and as a powerful enabler of solutions to the challenges all societies face.
“Radio is still the most dynamic, reactive and engaging medium there is, adapting to 21st century changes and offering new ways to interact and participate,” says Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO on the occasion of the 6th annual World Radio Day.
“Where social media and audience fragmentation can put us in media bubbles of like-minded people, radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster positive dialogue for change,” she says. “By listening to its audiences and responding to their needs, radio provides the diversity of views and voices needed to address the challenges we all face.”
Radio informs us and transforms us, through entertainment, information and audience participation.
According to a U.N. study, radio is the mass media reaching the widest audience in the world. It is also recognized as a powerful communication tool and a low cost medium. Radio is specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people: the illiterate, the disabled, women, youth and the poor, while offering a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level. Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief.”
There is also a changing face to radio services which, in the present times of media convergence, are taking up new technological forms, such as broadband, mobiles and tablets. Yet, up to a billion people still do not have access to radio today.
February 13 is the day the United Nations radio was established in 1946 – proposed by the Director-General of UNESCO. The objectives of World Radio Day will be to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio; to encourage decision makers to establish and provide access to information through radio; as well as to enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters.
At a time of turbulence, radio provides an enduring platform to bring communities together. On the way to work, in our homes, offices and fields, in times of peace, conflict and emergencies, radio remains a crucial source of information and knowledge, spanning generations and cultures, inspiring us with the wealth of humanity’s diversity, and connecting us with the world.
This is why radio is important to taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Advancing fundamental freedoms and promoting public access to information is essential to bolstering good governance and the rule of law, to deepening inclusion and dialogue. In tackling new challenges, in responding to climate change, in countering discrimination, radio can provide an accessible and real-time medium to bridge divides and strengthen dialogue.
On World Radio Day, UNESCO calls on everyone to nurture the power of radio to foster the conversations and the listening we need for cooperation to tackle the challenges all humanity faces. w/pix of Radio Day in Liberia.