February 13: World Radio Day

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by Aamir Amin Nowshahri

Communication technology has been making rapid strides in the present age. New and ever faster means and methods of transferring information from one point to another have made distances and time seem almost irrelevant. These developments assume more significance when we talk of the world of news.

Not many would have imagined some years back that consumers of news would get what they want delivered on their mobile phone screens without actually having to move even a step. And if this was not enough, smart watches will even save you the effort of having to stretch a bit to take that phone out of your pocket.

Speed maybe the USP here, but reach and access are limitations. An appreciable percentage of the population does not have access to the latest gadgets that give them news as and when it happens. This is true despite the continuously falling prices of gizmos with advancements in technology. Move away a bit from the city centers and failing signal strengths are an issue.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at its 36th General Conference in Paris in 2012, decided to observe February 13 as World Radio Day. It was on the same day in 1946 that the United Nations (UN) had established United Nations Radio.

The idea behind establishing such an event was that the “celebration of a world radio day will raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio, and enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters”.

The General Conference was convinced that “this event will encourage decision makers and those who work on radio broadcasting in all its forms to establish and General provide access to information through radio, including community radio, and to diversify the content in order that all may enjoy the benefit”.

Besides calling upon the Member States of UNESCO to celebrate the Day with activities at local and national levels, the General Conference also invited participating National Commissions, NGOs, the general public and diverse institutions like schools, universities, municipalities, professional associations, cultural organizations and so forth.

The General Conference also invited the national, regional and international broadcasting organizations and unions, as well as the media at large, to ensure the successful observance of World Radio Day by devoting it as appropriate to educational, cultural and public-awareness activities.

The advent of social media has resulted in changes in the way we live and interact. One of the effects of this is audience fragmentation, where receivers of communication are put together in media bubbles of likeminded people.

Radio, on the other hand, provides diversity of views and voices needed to address the challenges faced by a multitude of people. Radio is still the most dynamic, reactive and engaging medium that is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster dialogue for change.

The theme for World Radio Day 2017 is “Radio Is You”. This year, UNESCO is focusing on encouraging radio stations around the world, whether they be community, private or public radio stations, to have the tools to be the best radio stations that they can be.

In the words of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, there is a need to “nurture the power of radio to foster the conversations and the listening we need for cooperation to tackle the challenges all humanity faces”.

(Author is an Information Assistant with PIB in Srinagar)

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