The sixth edition of World Radio Day (WRD) happened this week. Organized by UNESCO, and grouped by the logo “Radio is you”, people from almost 90 countries are engaged in constructive dialogue through 350 events that try to stab the ‘bubble’ of uniform thinking about this pervasive medium.
Radio is the media that has best resisted the passage of time. The Internet has not managed to blur the magic of a conversation without images, and its power can link economically distant worlds as no other media is able to. New technologies have offered new spaces adapted to radio, such as podcasts or online stations, but for developing countries it is still the most affordable way of communication, especially for the most remote populations.
However it is estimated that still more than one billion people do not have access to radio. A harsh figure that does not find remedy in the development sector. The so-called ICT4D sector seems to be attached sometimes to the commercial impulses of the sponsors, and mobile phones, tablets or computers can be disguised as the only economically viable solution for companies with secondary interests in their technological donations. As Pieterse mentions in his famous book Development Theory, “ICT4D is digital capitalism looking south […] It is about market expansion and converting unused capacity into business assets on the premise that the new technology is the gateway to hope”.
Of course, this cyber utopia has also its followers and its own advantages, but it feels very appropriate (and also challenging) to have the radio leading our blog´s event. The radio is not about monetary benefits. It is simple technology from a long time ago, that can still stay away from big business expectations when we talk about electronic devices. And the future of radio in Western countries is online. So even if their communication effectiveness in distant areas has been proved, the tendency to encourage other (more profitable) technological devices is being imposed on cooperation projects.
The annual World Radio Day celebration is a wake-up call for organizations and institutions working in the sector to remember that sometimes the simplest solutions – such as existing radio networks – can bring the greatest benefits. A mobile without coverage or a computer without Internet are only nice photographs in dossiers of projects with little interest in real development. Radio informs, makes people aware of their problems, educates and entertains, and invests in its infrastructure, and it is a smart move if we want to reach a more equal world.
World Radio Day 2017 has four key messages:
- Ensure that radios can operate in conditions that promote freedom of expression and journalists’ safety.
- Ensure quality programs through information, entertainment and audience participation where all voices can be heard.
- Bring communities together and promote dialogue for change.
- Radio means you’ll never be alone.
In the upcoming blog posts we will bring you the vision from inside with an interview with one of the coordinators of the event. After that, we will used World Day to reflect about success measurement within an ICT4D communication strategy, and finally we will write the conclusions after all the research done. Creating Connections? joins the radio party!