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Radio: A Power Tool For Unity In Diversity

The word “radio” is derived from the Latin word “radius”, meaning “spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray”. It was first applied to communications in 1881 at the suggestion of a French scientist Ernest Mercadier before Alexander Graham Bell adopted “radiophone.”Although its translation of the 1906 Berlin Convention used the terms “wireless telegraph” and “wireless telegram”, by 1912 it began to promote the use of “radio” instead.

The term became preferred by the general public in the 1920s with the introduction of broadcasting. Following a request from the Spanish Radio Academy on 20 September 2010, Spain proposed that UNESCO should set aside a day for World Radio Day. This made the United Nations at the 36th session of the General Conference to set aside every 13th of February as World Radio Day.

The celebration of the Day corresponds with the date that the United Nations radio was created in February 1946.

Despite being over 100 years old, radio is one of the most popular ways to exchanging information, educating and entertaining people all over the world.

Radio has been used to help people, to engage in discussions of topical issues of global and national discourse. It has saved lives during natural or human-made disasters and gives journalists a platform to report facts.

The Day was proclaimed to raise greater awareness among the public and the media on the importance of radio. Radio is the media reaching the widest audience in the world. It is also recognized as a powerful communication tool and a low-cost medium.

As a blind medium, Radio is 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. Records reveal that Radio Broadcasting was introduced into Nigeria in 1933 by the then Colonial Government. It relayed the overseas service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) through a wired system with loudspeakers at the listening end.

At the global level, radio remains the most widely listened medium. This unique ability to reach out to 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 is a low-cost medium specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people, offering a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level. It is imperative for Radio stations to serve diverse communities by offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints, and content, and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations.

In commemorating the day, UNESCO is calling on radio stations to uphold diversity, both in their newsroom and on the airwaves.

Also, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, in a message to the day is calling on member nations to recognize the enduring power of radio to promote a diversity that will help in building a more peaceful and inclusive world.

Radio stations in the country must know that the development of a policy environment that is conducive and transparent, is the keystone to a pluralistic, inclusive and democratic radio sector.

A diverse and representative radio workforce

Through the advancement of technology, the choice of stations to listeners has increased with more radio stations dominating the airwaves. A diverse and representative radio workforce is not only important for countering discrimination and ensuring gender representation; it is crucial for creativity and relevance of content, to safeguard editorial independence.

However, the podcasts of radio have opened the door to new ways of producing and consuming audio content thereby, increasing access to information and a variety of programs regardless of the spectrum that is available.

Long before social networking, radio was already a social foundation that built identities, communities and created conversations for the participation of people. Unlike other media that require full attention, radio can be listened to while doing other activities such as, driving, house chores, and reading.

Radio could be described as a medium that has taken advantage of the new communication technologies to dominate marginalized or remote places, where there is a lack of electricity and other connectivity or print media.

Today radio is also a podcast, a website, an app, a platform at the same time, still existing as a transistor.

As Nigeria joins the global community to commemorate the day, they must realize that radio is a medium that is grassroots oriented that can promote unity and peace in a multicultural and religious country like Nigeria.

Nehemiah Aneni is with our current affairs unit

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