On Feb.13 the world celebrated an annual World Radio Day. The main theme of the holiday established by UNESCO five years ago was “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster”.
On Nov. 12, 2011, UNESCO’s General Conference, at its 36th session, proclaimed World Radio Day. The main propagator of the idea had been Spain, and after a consultation process carried out by UNESCO, multiple international broadcasting organizations favored the project by sending letters of support.
As a result, one year later, on Feb.13, 2012, the world celebrated the first ever World Radio Day. Since then, the day has been celebrated annually, and every year brings new events that are held all around the world in order to emphasize the importance of radio in everyday life.
The date of Feb. 13 was not chosen randomly from a calendar. In fact, the date is very closely related to the history and prominence of radio, as on Feb. 13, 1946 the United Nations established its international broadcasting service, the United Nations Radio of which purpose has always been to promote the universal ideals of the organization.
In 2014, for the first time, the World Radio Day was celebrated with accordance to a particular theme. UNESCO proposed the idea of “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Radio.” Since that year the idea of themes has been maintained and, as a result, the World Radio Day 2015 was held around the theme of “Youth and Radio.” This year, the emphasized subject was “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster”.
Taking into account that many more advanced technologies, such as mobile phones or the internet are present the society’s everyday life, some people may ask why one of the most recognized organizations in the world decided to celebrate radio day.
Answering this question might be problematic as it requires the thinkers to empathize with those people who have not been raised in a wealthy country. For people living in a country of, for instance, western civilization such as the United States, having a mobile phone, tablet, or computer with access to the internet have almost become a standard. Therefore, the society might have forgotten about the importance of radio, as it has been replaced by other technologies.
However, having an access to the technologies is not necessarily a standard all over the world. In fact, many people do not even have an access to the radio, so the earlier mentioned technologies are even farther ahead of their standards of living. Sadly, the number of those individuals who lack an access to a radio is estimated to be close to a billion people.
Despite the fact that a one seventh of the world population cannot listen to any radio frequencies, when compared to other mass media, radio still reaches the widest audience in the world.
The two main reasons radio remains to be so widely used are the relatively low cost of the medium and its power as a communication tool. Not only can radio reach remote publics, but also it does not require its audience to have any level of education. Anybody can listen to radio, so even people who are illiterate or disabled can participate in important public events which otherwise would not be accessible for them.
Even though all of the aspects are important, one of the most important factors that make radio a significant and unique medium is the role it plays in emergency situations. There is a reason the World Radio Day this year was celebrated with a theme of emergency and disasters, and the fact allows the invention to remain nearly necessary in today’s world.
Every time there is a disaster somewhere in the world, there are also people who suffer effects of the happening. Many times the people cannot predict the disaster and as a result the life of communities that are victims of the happenings turns into chaos.
People desperately look forward to receive information about the catastrophe and they seek for advices that might help them to embrace the chaos. Since the direct access to those people can be difficult due to the impact of such a disaster, radio broadcasts are very often the most effective and easiest way to provide the victims with the important information they need.
“In times of crisis and emergency, radio can be a lifeline. For people in shattered societies, or caught in catastrophe, or desperately seeking news, radio brings lifesaving information. This year, as we start carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals, let us resolve to use radio for human progress. On this World Radio Day, let us resolve to prove that radio saves lives.” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to the official website of the World Radio Day, diamundialradio.org.
Moreover, radio can also prevent catastrophes. One of the issues that media all over the world talked about last year was the epidemic of the Ebola virus in Africa. Fortunately, the crisis has been averted and the virus did not spread in other parts of the world. However, Ebola is still present in Africa, and even though it is kept under control, it is important to educate people about the issue and help them to avoid getting infected.
Currently, radio is a tool that helps to achieve the goal. In order to fight the virus from spreading it is important to know what the symptoms are. If a person is recognized to be infected, does not only she or he can get help before it is too late, but also the person might be isolated so that other people do not get infected as well. Also, it is true that the spread of Ebola can be slowed down by following some basic hygiene routines such as washing hands or avoiding shaking hands as a greeting.
African singers and community radio stations help to share the information, and they educate people by using radio as a main medium to spread the news. An organization called Lifeline Energy also has a significant impact on success of the campaign.
The organization provided people in West Africa with little solar-powered radios called the Polaris. It is a very important contribution to the efforts of the world in trying to stop Ebola. Providing people with the medium is in important step towards resolving the issue, and the campaign itself indicates how significant radio is, and how powerful this low-cost device can be in the times of emergency.
“When there is a disaster, information can be as important as food, water or shelter. It is also a critical part of reducing vulnerability, and of building safer and more resilient communities. In emergency situations, radio is often one of the few sources of information for people affected. It allows people to access and share news on the response, and to engage in decisions about the support they need,” said Tadateru Konoé, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, according to diamundialradio.org
To celebrate the World Radio Day, UNESCO created a special broadcast that can be downloaded from the holiday’s official website. The broadcast elaborates on the theme of Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster.
The organization emphasizes that the World Radio Day is about celebrating the radio. It has been established to indicate how significant impact it has on peoples’ life, and how powerful tool it is in regards to connecting people from all over the world. To learn more about the World Radio Day 2016, visit its official website http://www.diamundialradio.org.