Has radio been totally made irrelevant by social media? Chances are that you are reading this communication via a social media platform – Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, or Google +. However, radio continues and perseveres as a facilitator of education, freedom of expression and public debate, and a catalyst for a more peaceful and sustainable future.  It is also an equalizer in helping to shape ideas and empower women, marginalized groups that span the generations, rural areas, and those immobilized or disabled. In fact, radio has its own day named after it “World Radio Day” and is celebrating its second anniversary, 13 February, today.

The observance of the day on February 13 marks the anniversary of UN Radio, which was launched in 1946.  The UN Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stressed the importance of radio as a vital source of information during natural disasters, and as a central instrument in community life with the potential of mobilizing social change.  Only a decade or so earlier, my husband, Bosnia’s UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey, frequently communicated to the globe over the radio. UN debates were broadcast and commentary provided.

Cost-efficient, and with a capability of reaching 95% of the global population, radio represents the most dominant mass medium, and is a powerhouse in capability to transform the human rights and dignity of the world at large. It should noted that if one has Internet, chances are they also have access to most of the globe’s radio stations. With new technological forms and devices, perhaps radio and the Internet are not so much in competition as complementary.

UNESCO’s audio archives showcase interviews with renowned figures such as Nelson Mandela, Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Paul Sartre.  To celebrate the history, celebrities, and events of UN Radio History, tune in:  http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44129&Cr=radio&Cr1=

UN News Centre Source

“More than ever, radio remains a force for social change, by sharing knowledge and providing a platform for inclusive debate,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in her message for World Radio Day.

Ms. Bokova noted that the world has changed dramatically since the birth of radio in the 19th century. “But radio has hardly aged a day. It remains widely accessible, relatively cheap and very simple to use. It is still the medium that can carry any message to any place at any time – even without electricity.”

Radio has also embraced the digital revolution to expand its power and reach, she said. Across the world, the cost of broadcasting is decreasing and the number of radio stations is increasing. Citizen journalists and community media are using online radio stations to give voices to those who are rarely heard.

“In a world changing quickly, UNESCO is committed to harnessing the full power of radio to build bridges of understanding between peoples, to share information as widely as possible and to deepen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of expression,” said Ms. Bokova.

The agency is also determined to make full use of community radio to address poverty and social exclusion at the local level and to empower marginalized rural groups, young people and women, she added.

“Radio has transformed our past – it remains a powerful force for shaping a more peaceful, more sustainable and more inclusive future for all.”

In his message for the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, from short-wave to FM to satellite transmission, radio connects people wherever they are.  “Since its invention more than 100 years ago, radio has sparked the imagination, opened doors for change, and served as a channel for life- saving information. Radio entertains, educates, and informs.” “UN Radio sheds light on all issues on the United Nations agenda – from sustainable development to the protection of children to peacekeeping and conflict prevention. We are proud of our rich history of radio production in many languages, and the innovative ways we use radio to inform and serve the world.”

“On this World Radio Day, let us celebrate the power of radio and let us work together to tune the world to the frequency of peace, development and human rights for all.”

Susan Sacirbey

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PHOTO: Courtesy of UN Photo / Mark Garten  (Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at one of the studios of UN Radio)