WACC calls on its members and partners to celebrate and support World Radio Day, 13 February 2012.
By Philip Lee, WACC Deputy-Director of Programs
||In today’s hi-tech era of digital communication platforms, radio – especially community radio – remains vitally important to many people worldwide. Such a practical expression of communication rights guarantees spaces for ordinary people to have a public voice and to be heard by decision-makers at local, national and global levels.
WACC partners have pursued communication rights by struggling to change national legislation regarding access to the radio spectrum and licenses for community radio. WACC itself has often supported community radio under its communication development programmes. Local partners are currently establishing or strengthening community radio stations in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burkina Faso, Mexico, and Sierra Leone with WACC’s support.
Radio is generally recognized as a low cost medium, 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 public debates, irrespective of people’s educational level.
Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief. There is also a changing face to radio services which are taking up new technological forms, such as broadband, mobiles and digital tablets. However, some estimate that up to a billion people still do not have access to radio today.
World Radio Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of radio, to facilitate access to information through radio and to enhance networking among broadcasters. UNESCO approved the creation of a World Day of Radio in 2011. The initial idea came from the Spanish Academy of Radio four years earlier
The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), a WACC partner, supports the establishment of a world wide community radio sector as one way of democratizing the media sector. AMARC advocates for the right to communicate at the international, national, local and neighbourhood levels and defends and promotes the interests of the community radio movement through networking and cooperation.
Latin American community radio enthusiast José Ignacio López Vigil long ago offered the following definition: “When radio fosters the participation of citizens and defends their interests; when it reflects the tastes of the majority and makes good humour and hope its main purpose; when it truly informs; when it helps resolve the thousand and one problems of daily life; when all ideas are debated in its programs and all opinions are respected; when cultural diversity is stimulated over commercial homogeneity; when women are main players in communication and not simply a pretty voice or a publicity gimmick; when no type of dictatorship is tolerated, not even the musical dictatorship of the big recording studios; when everyone’s words fly without discrimination or censorship, that is community radio.”
In 2011 WACC helped the Himalaya Trust in the hill state of Uttarakhand, India, to run a training course on programme content for community radio. Participants used radio drama to explore such issues as the impact of forest fires on the environment and agriculture, the need for educating the girls child, and the problem of addiction to alcohol leading to domestic violence.
Indira Ramesh, coordinator and trainer said that, “The drama form brought greater clarity of issues to the trainees, who were asked to imagine or identify the possibilities of some social change which could emerge as their programme impact. They understood that each programme issue could potentially be planned as a series, with each having a larger objective in order to have a sustained impact, as well as to give space to different points of view.”
WACC is celebrating World Radio Day in the spirit of its vision of “Communication for All”.