It’s 13 February, which means today is World Radio Day. This day, proclaimed by UNESCO, is a celebration of radio as a truly non-discriminatory information and communication medium.
As explained in the World Radio Day 2013 press release, the day aims to “improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression over the airwaves.”
As the world continues to evolve into multiple levels of digital connectedness, radio remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide. From commercial FM stations to shortwave community radio, the medium continues to entertain and inform a diverse audience, across all ages, genders and cultures.
Despite changes and developments in broadcasting technology (from shortwave and medium wave to frequency modulation to digital broadcasting), the interface to its audience has remained largely unchanged, making it the simplest, most affordable and most widely accessible communication medium. The fact that radio can carry its message without the need for electrical connectivity at the receiving end makes it particularly suited to disseminate information in conflict situations and during natural disasters.
While traditional broadcasting remains at the core of radio, digital technology has opened up new opportunities – online radio stations are decreasing the cost of broadcasting, resulting in more citizen journalists and community groups using the medium to give voice to their unique messages.
It is this far-reaching power of radio that UNESCO wants to communicate on World Radio Day. To quote Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO in her message on the occasion of World Radio Day: “UNESCO is determined to make full use of community radio to address poverty and social exclusion at the local level and to empower marginalized rural groups, young people and women. Radio is the key platform for education and for protecting local cultures and languages. It is also a powerful way to amplify the voices of young people around the world on issues that affect their lives. We must bolster their skills and give them opportunities to engage fully with radio.”