World Radio Day: Why we need to celebrate radio as a platform to reach the masses

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character...” The words of Martin Luther King Jr. echoed from the podium at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., in the U.S. on August 28, 1963. His powerful I Have a Dream speech reached not just the thousands of protesters gathered there to protest the inequalities faced by the African-American community, but also inspired millions of others across the country, spurring them into action. This was made possible thanks to an invention — the radio.

Ever since its invention, the radio has made it possible for people from all corners of a city, country, and the world, to be part of historical movements, speeches, events, and developments. And, it still does. In fact, radio is the mass medium that reaches the widest audience in the world.

According to the United Nations, radio is specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people: the illiterate, the disabled, women, youth and the poor, while offering a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level. Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief.

Significant medium

Right from being the most favourable form of entertainment during The Great Depression that affected the U.S. (1929-1933), to carrying the message of India’s independence to all parts of the country, and being the most reliable means of communication during natural disasters when other forms of communication are disabled, radio continues to play a significant role in our lives today.

Especially in areas that have no access to television, the Internet, or other means of information and communication, radio comes in handy, keeping people informed about the latest news, government policies, and event updates (live commentaries of sporting events or even the Republic Day parade).

Private and community radio also play significant roles in keeping the citizens and the rest of the world up-to-date about the situation in a conflict zone.

Brief history

Radio — the term we use to refer to the device — is actually the name given to the technology of using radio waves to carry information. Its forerunners were the telegraph and the telephone, whose technology gave rise to the radio as we know it today.

1860s: Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell predicts the existence of radio waves.

1886: German physicist Heinrich Rudolph Hertz demonstrates that like light and heat, rapid variations of electric current could also be projected into space in the form of radio waves.

1895: Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi (in pic) proves the possibility of radio communication by sending and receiving the first radio signal in Italy.

1899: Marconi sends the first wireless signal from England across the English Channel.

1902: The signal is received in Newfoundland, U.S., two years later, marking the first successful transatlantic radio-telegraph message.

1906: Transmission of music and speeches begins.

1920: KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, becomes the first U.S. licensed commercial broadcasting station. It broadcasts the presidential election results as its inaugural show.

1923: The Radio Club of Bombay makes the first ever broadcast in India.

1930: India’s national radio broadcaster, All India Radio (AIR), now officially known as Akashvani, is established.

Broadcasts to remember

The War Of The Worlds Broadcast: A 60-minute live broadcast presented as a series of news bulletins about an alien invasion succeeded in frightening its listeners. The broadcast was actually an adaptation of H.G.Wells’ science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds, planned as a Halloween special in 1938.

Day of Infamy speech:“There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger...” U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to the Congress after Japan’s unprovoked bombing of U.S. naval bases in Hawaii, stirred the entire nation to unite behind the President and his call to join the World War.

Hitler’s Declaration Of War:“The government of the Reich consequently breaks off diplomatic relations with the United States of America and declares that under these circumstances brought about by President Roosevelt, Germany too, as from today, considers herself as being in a state of war with the United States of America.” On December 11, 1941, Germans across the country sat up to listen to Adolf Hitler declare war against the U.S.

Nehru’s Tryst with Destiny speech:On the eve of August 15, 1947, kids and adults across the country stayed up until midnight to listen to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech broadcast live on the radio. For many, it was reason enough to bring home their very first radio sets.

World Radio Day

February 13 — the day United Nations Radio was established in 1946 — was proposed as World Radio Day by the Director-General of UNESCO to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio and to enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters. The proclamation was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on January 14, 2013, and the Day has been observed every year since.

The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Radio and Sports’, under which the topics covered are: Coverage of Traditional Sports; Gender Equality in Sports Broadcasting; and Coverage of Sports for Peace and Development Initiatives.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 6:10:41 PM |

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