Monday, 18 January 2021

UN in your language

The everlasting appeal of radio

UN Messenger of Peace, Stevie Wonder, sits for an interview with UN Radio | © UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

In recognition of the importance of the radio in communicating worldwide, we celebrate the anniversary of the first broadcast in 1946 – “this is the United Nations calling the peoples of the world” on International Radio Day (13 February).

With 44,000 radio stations worldwide and 65% of people in the EU listening to radio every day, the radio remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide, even reaching remote communities. It connects via “two-way conversations” – much like today’s digital social networks – enabling people to participate in public debate, regardless of literacy, gender, age or poverty. Accordingly, it’s interactivity, easy-to-use operation and universal access account for the popularity and need of the radio throughout the world.

Today’s radio explores new ways to adapt to a changing media landscape. The overall goal of public media services like the European Broadcast Union (EBU) is to make radio content more accessible and user-friendly. Last year, the EBU created the Storyboard, which allows audio clips to be converted into video content to share on social networks. The Storyboard is a good example of how radio’s traditional one-dimensional audio content makes the transformation into a visual form of expression, capable of being shared and integrated into all of today’s digital media outlets.

As 2018 will bring many momentous sporting events, starting with the current Winter Olympics, UNESCO is dedicating World Radio Day to the theme of radio and sports.

The radio is a central tool “to convey the values of fair play, teamwork and equality in sport”, according to Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, adding that “radio can help combat racist and xenophobic stereotypes by providing the opportunity to nurture diversity as a force of tolerance and dialogue”.

The fight for gender equality is a central aspect to sports broadcasting.  As new UNESCO data indicate, women represent only 7% of sportspeople seen, heard or read about in the media, and only 4% of sports stories focus primarily on women. Although women and men practice the same sports, train in the same way, and compete in the same conditions, their experiences are often very different, much a result of how they’re perceived in the media.

Together with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterrez, “let us celebrate both radio and sports as ways of helping people to achieve their full potential”. European citizens and radio users are encouraged to share radio content on some of their favorite media channels to show their support for the International Day of Radio 2018.

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