Radio is something that used to be a huge part of our lives, but which sadly today is not much in use. Advances in technology have given people more ways to access an increasing amount of information, but radio still plays a vital role in today’s world. Radio is more than just announcers, news and songs. Radio is about companionship and the emotional connection with the listener. Radio is also a source of innovation that pioneered interaction with audiences and user-generated content decades before they became mainstream and offers a wonderful display of diversity in its formats, in its languages, and among radio professionals themselves.Radio broadcasts provide real-time information, and some that broadcast 24 hours a day, can provide the most recent updates to listeners. Radio has the ability to reach across borders and can become a valuable source of information where reliable news is scarce, and in communities that still do not have a reliable source of television or the internet, it is radio that provides them with news and entertainment. Radio has proved its worth in times of emergency such as when access to the mobile network is down as a result of an overload, or phone lines are cut. Even when there is no electricity, most radio sets can be battery operated or have the ability to be handcranked. In small communities, it also provides an outlet for regular community messaging and activities. More importantly, radio is easy to use, it’s live and it’s human. For more than 80 years, radio has survived and prospered by being the easiest of media to use.
Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content, and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations. A low-cost medium specifically suited to reaching remote communities and vulnerable people, radio offers a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level. It also plays a crucial role in emergency communication and disaster relief. Radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster positive dialogue for change. By listening to its audiences and responding to their needs, radio services provide the diversity of views and voices needed to address the challenges we all face.
In 2011, the United Nations decided to establish a World Radio Day on the basis of a wide consultation process. 13 February was chosen because that was the day United Nations Radio was established in 1946. The objectives of World Radio Day are 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.
For World Radio Day 2021, the celebrations are about the event’s 10th anniversary and the more than 110 years of radio. The 2021 theme is New World, New Radio, which recalls how this medium is part of humanity’s history by following the various developments in our society and adapting its services. As the world changes, so does radio. Thus, during the Covid 19 pandemic, radio made it possible, for example, to ensure continuity of learning, to fight against misinformation, and to promote barrier gestures. The theme is divided into three main sub-themes.
The first is Evolution – the world changes and radio evolves which refers to the resilience of the radio and its sustainability. Radio has indeed accompanied historical moments, like moments that are personal to us. Broadcasts and public speaking marked an era. Voices and music have accompanied our daily lives. Debates opened our minds. Radio has been following changes in our world for over a century, evolving with it. Radio remains the world’s witness and relay.
The second sub-theme is Innovation – the world changes and radio adapts and innovates which refers to the fact that radio has had to adapt to new technologies to remain the go-to medium of mobility, accessible everywhere and to everyone. Whereas yesterday’s radio was simply a transistor on our kitchen tables, nowadays the radio follows us on each of our trips thanks to smartphones. Technological progress and digitization have made it possible for the radio to adapt to our new behaviors and lifestyles. Radio is no longer just a sound medium: today, the radio is listened to on TV, and TV is heard on the radio.
The last sub-theme is Connection – the world changes and radio connects with the sub-theme highlighting radio’s services to our society including natural disasters, socio-economic crises and epidemics. No matter the events, radio connects us to forge or maintain links. Public service announcements, alerts, and broadcasts, ensuring the continuity of learning, are examples of services provided and solutions offered by radio to best meet listeners’ needs.
So how can you celebrate World Radio Day? You can remind yourself and others that radio has been part of our media landscape for years and evolves according to events, the sanitary, socio-economic, political, and legislative contexts. You can encourage the connection and maintenance of the link that radio provides thanks to the various services offered, in all circumstances and worldwide. And lastly emphasise the different ways to listen to the radio, anytime and anywhere, making it the number one media for mobility thanks to its adaptation to new technologies.