Today’s the 10th anniversary that World Radio Day has been marked. It was set up by UNESCO to celebrate how the medium keeps communities connected. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel that this is as important as ever.
Whether on a local, national or a worldwide scale, radio has been innovative and evolved to allow a diverse range of voices to be heard. Evolution, innovation and connection are very appropriate themes for this year’s event.
“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.”UNESCO
I was at a conference run by the Community Radio Association at the University of Salford, about eight or nine years ago, when a guest speaker talked about communities around the world that would otherwise have not had access to the medium. By listening to radio there was a connection felt, by those invisible waves travelling through the air.
The talk had a profound effect on me – how a radio station’s content has the ability to directly impact people’s lives. Examples of this happening over years are endless and every station will have its own. Access to radio itself is the first step to this feeling of connection. For instance, Trevor Baylis’ invention of a wind-up radio relaying information to communities around the world that had limited access to electricity and / or batteries.
Then there are the calls to action that can be elicited by what’s broadcast. The most recent example of many that I can recall from the station where I work happened during BBC Radio Cumbria’s ‘Make a Difference’ campaign this week.
A volunteer from Silloth Community Hub, a shop where people pay what they can afford for food, had been speaking on Mike Zeller at Breakfast. Listening on his way to work was the manager of a local supermarket who was put in touch with the hub and agreed to make regular deliveries of food donations.
Radio has evolved to survive, listening today will sound very different to that of a decade ago, as the medium moves along to reflect the lives of the audiences that are served by it. It will sound different again in 10 years’ time too. Innovation is as apparent as ever currently, as stations adapt to keep broadcasting while staff work from home during the coronavirus pandemic and will continue to do so.
Happy World Radio Day! #WRD2021