Technologies evolve, but radio will never disappear


The power of radio was celebrated at the World Radio Day Forum in Shanghai.

In the midst of over 500 activities around the world in celebration of World Radio Day, a major event took place on 13 February 2017 in Shanghai, China. Hosted by the Shanghai Media Group, the World Radio Day Forum gathered over 150 participants from 23 countries and regions to celebrate the importance of radio as a medium. The event was also the occasion to launch the first level domain name .radio, which will allow radio stations worldwide to have unique and memorable website names.

Mr Tong Gang, Vice Minister of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China opened the Forum. He noted that “radio is an effective channel to facilitate dialogue among civilizations. UNESCO put forward the idea of ​​‘many voices, one world’ which made important contributions to promoting mutual learning between civilizations.” He added that “the Chinese Government and the media sector in China are ready to work together with other countries and international organizations to enhance mutual learning between civilizations through radio broadcasting, and make unremitting efforts to build a community of common destiny for all of mankind.”

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Communication and Information, shared his personal experience with producing and hosting radio programs as a radio journalist and producer. As a person with visual impairment himself, radio also provided him an essential source of information.

He explained that the concept of the theme this year, “Radio is You!”, lies within the recognition that Radio is everything it is because of its listeners. It puts the spotlight on audiences, ensuring their views and diversity are represented on the airwaves, highlighting the important role of community media in this process. Mr La Rue noted that “radio will never disappear. We may listen to the radio in the traditional analogue broadcasting, in digital broadcasting, or through the internet and our mobile phones, but we all want to have our own local communications. This is essential and this is what we are celebrating today.”

“This is why we must maintain the diversity that radio represents to us,” Mr La Rue added. “Protecting the integrity of radio broadcasting and dissemination, protecting the audience who can interact freely and participate in developing the programmatic essence of radio, is fundamental, and it gives opportunity to young people, to women. This is why we want to protect radio, and why the theme for today is ‘Radio is You!’.”

Also addressing the opening ceremony were Ms Weng Tiehui, Vice Mayor of Shanghai, Mr Mario Maniewicz, Deputy Director of Radio Communication Bureau of ITU, and Mr Javad Mottaghi, Secretary-General of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

At the one-day forum, Chinese and overseas participants from the broadcasting sector presented the latest trends and shared case studies on media convergence. Roundtable discussions were also held on important topics such as Media Convergence between Radio and the Internet; Innovation of Audience Participation and Engagement; and Radio and Multi-culture Communication.

Since its birth over 100 years ago, radio has transformed the way we communicate and this has continued into the 21st century. Radio is still the medium that reaches the widest audience across the world, and is the preferred source of news and entertainment for billions of people every day.

World Radio Day was created in 2012 by the Member States of UNESCO, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 as an International Day. It provides an annual opportunity to celebrate radio and how it shapes our lives through information, entertainment and public participation on the airwaves. In the past years, we have celebrated the power of Radio in promoting gender equality, in fostering youth participation, as well as its unique roles in times of emergency and disaster.

UNESCO is the United Nations agency responsible for promoting freedom of expression, access to information and media pluralism around the world. In addition to public and private radio, UNESCO supports the sustainability of community radio stations through training and advocacy work, as well as ensuring countries sustain a healthy radio sector through supportive legislation and regulation.