The 2020 edition will focus on radio’s responsibility as “a platform for democratic discourse”
Under the theme “radio and diversity,” Unesco’s 2020 edition of World Radio Day will focus on radio’s responsibility as “a platform for democratic discourse.” The international organisation is encouraging radio stations worldwide to participate in the one-day celebration, which takes place on Feb. 13. It’s also calling on radio broadcasters to consistently maintain “diversity in the newsroom and on the airwaves” to guarantee variety of content and voices for its varied audiences.
Radio World spoke to Mirta Lourenço chief, Media Development and Society, Communication and Information for Unesco on the significance of this day and the importance of radio in maintaining plurality and transparency.
Radio World: What is the history of World Radio Day and why was it created?
Mirta Lourenço is chief, Media Development and Society, Communication and Information for Unesco.
Mirta Lourenço: Following a proposal from Spain, in 2011 Unesco’s 36th session of the General Conference proclaimed World Radio Day, on the basis of a feasibility study undertaken by Unesco, further to a proposal from Spain.
A wide consultation process started in June 2011, carried out by Unesco. It included all stakeholders, including broadcasting associations, public, private, community and international broadcasters, UN agencies, topic-related NGOs, academics and foundations as well as Unesco Permanent Delegations and National Commissions.
Ninety-one percent were in favour of the project. On Jan. 14, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly formally endorsed Unesco’s proclamation of World Radio Day. Feb. 13 is the day United Nations Radio was established in 1946.
World Radio Day was proclaimed to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio. Radio is the media reaching the widest audience in the world. It is also recognised as a powerful communication tool and a low cost medium.
Radio is specifically suited to reach all segments of societies, even remote communities and vulnerable people — while offering a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level: Communities with lower levels of literacy, persons with disabilities, women, youth and those facing poverty. Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief. In Zimbabwe World Radio Day commemorations come at a time when Government has reiterated its commitment to have diversity in the media space and licence the first community radio stations before August this year.
RW: What are Unesco’s goals in organising such an event?
Lourenço: It is more than an event, or it is several events around the world, all of them celebrating radio. The objective is to encourage decision makers to establish and provide access to information through radio, as well as to enhance networking and international co-operation among broadcasters.
Unesco leads the celebration and chairs the World Radio Day Committee, which is composed of regional and international broadcasting organisations.
RW: Describe the effort to develop awareness of World Radio Day around the world.
Lourenço: World Radio Day is first and foremost a celebration of the first electronic medium that has, over the decades, remained a powerful medium for connecting people and possessing the potential to reinforce critical governance concerns such as access to information, media diversity and pluralism.
World Radio Day aims for radio coverage in preference to press coverage. Nonetheless, Unesco’s strategy for World Radio Day contributes to phenomenal press coverage every year, with over 500 articles published around the world. There is not a continent that doesn’t celebrate World Radio Day.
On Feb. 13 each year, Unesco offers to radio stations, and wider to the civil society, free resources, audio clips, short videos, stories and testimonials in a visually attractive dedicated website. The statistics show that approximately 25% of users are return visitors, meaning that key stakeholders return to the site on numerous occasions.
And every year, when visitors land on the page, they stay. World Radio Day has a good average of page view and people’s sessions last long, so users have a great interest in the content and truly explore the worldradioday.org
Major global influencers usually make public statements aligned with our messages for World Radio Day.
RW: What actions would you like radio organisations to take in the future? What else should we know?
Lourenço: Defending and fostering free, independent and pluralistic radio is the most important goal, since it underlies democracy and the rule of law. Radio has survived all media upheavals because it has successfully demonstrated its usefulness again and again.
In many countries, radio stations have maintained a respectable space for information and democratic debate, free from political or commercial pressures. There is also, alas, radio that can insulate and reinforce narrow-mindedness, and it is an everyday effort as a broadcaster or as a listener to object to or try to change such realities. – https://www.radioworld.com/