World Radio Day. To Radio. To Trust.

Tenacious, agile, relevant and robust. 

Four words that aptly describe radio in an ever-changing global media landscape. With shifts in content, consumption and technology, radio remains a key medium in informing, entertaining and educating communities across the globe. Radio remains powerful as it celebrates the diversities in society and can not only speak to communities in their languages, but also listen to them and give them a platform to be heard.  

Radio connects. 

As a medium that understands the need for consistency, impartiality and accuracy, radio continues to be one of the most trusted and used media in the world, according to the United Nations. It is with this backdrop that radio celebrates World Radio Day on Sunday, February 13th, under this year’s main theme: Radio and Trust. Now in its eleventh year, World Radio Day has adopted three sub-themes focusing on – 

  • trust in radio journalism 
  • trust and accessibility 
  • trust and the viability of radio stations 

As an international media support organisation, Internews believes that everyone deserves trustworthy news and information to make informed decisions about their lives and to hold power to account. Furthermore, Internews works with local partners to develop and implement programs that make a positive impact, ensuring that successful information and media solutions are rooted in local culture. 

An employee at Radio Shabelle | Free Photo - rawpixel
An employee at Radio Shabelle in Somalia

Radio is a key medium used by Internews in building healthy information environments in 100 countries around the world. The Internews country offices in Africa are great believers in the value of radio at grassroot levels. Embracing the theme of World Radio Day 2022 with local nuance, the Africa team at Internews will be celebrating with their networks of radio stations and partners. 

A healthy society has a healthy a bustling media market with the associated freedoms to report without fear of intimidation or prejudice. The licensing of 14 community radios in Zimbabwe, a historical first in the country, is a positive move in media plurality. World Radio Day will be used to celebrate this momentous event in the Zimbabwean radio landscape and the commemorations will be held under the local theme, “Connecting Communities Through Radio”. Community radio empowers communities at grassroots levels and the Internews team in Zimbabwe have recently launch a five-year programme, “Strengthening Media for Accountability”, that is partnering with several organisations to ensure the newly licensed radio stations serve the best interest of these communities.  

Project Director in Zimbabwe, Tawedzegwa Musitini says, “despite being politically independent more than four decades ago, many vulnerable people in marginalised and remote locations were confined to listen to very few state-owned radio stations. The objectivity and impartiality of these radio stations were highly compromised. The licensing of community radios is a milestone as this allows citizens a platform to be actively involved in the development trajectory of their communities. Community radio will facilitate transparency and accountability through social accountability and monitoring by community members domiciled in different parts of Zimbabwe. This is also considering adverse reports produced by the Auditor General highlighting maladministration at the local government level. As a result, active citizen participation in community development discourse diverge from the past, as communities cease to be passive consumers of media products and become active content creators and community development agenda setters.” 

World Radio Day | A presenter reads the news at Radio Shabel… | Flickr
A presenter reads the news at Radio Shabelle

Having worked with a group of twenty radio stations in the Tanzania for five years focusing on strengthening media and civil society, Angela Nicoara (Internews Chief of Party Tanzania) explains that World Radio Day will be celebrated with a virtual gathering of partners who also believe in the local relevance of the medium including the UNESCO local office, Press Clubs and their network of radio partners.  

Lien Bach, Chief of Party in Liberia shares that The Media Activity programme is organising a one-day stakeholder consultation to introduce the formulation of a national policy for Liberia’s community radio sector. The discussion will host media experts from the community radio landscape as well as senators and representatives chairing the committee on information and broadcasting in Liberia. The Association of Liberia Community Radio will host an outdoor parade to celebrate World Radio Day, Liberia has more than 160 radio stations and the medium is worth celebrating. 

Grassroots accountability is key within media organisations to ensure they can operate in an environment that leads to long term sustainability and viability. Trust in the journalistic efforts of community radios can only be developed and maintained if radio stations are able to deliver a constant and reliable source of information. To do so radio stations need to generate revenue to keep the transmitters on and their staff active in the field. The economic survival of radio stations relies on their ability to attract and retain a large enough base of loyal listeners to be sustainable and to embed listener interaction into their business models. There is a symbiotic relationship between community media, the community itself and the local economy in empowering an open communications environment which in turn leads to open dialogue, robust debate and the ability to hold local authority accountable.  

In South Sudan Camps, Radio Is a Powerful Tool - PassBlue
A radio host interviews guests on South Sudanese radio station.

Because radio is accessible, and it traverses wide geographical areas it is often the only source of information for communities in challenged territories. The Internews Team in South Sudan will celebrate World Radio Day with past and present partners who operate in this challenging territory. As important as sustainability is in long-term media operations it is the World Radio Day theme of trust that rings true in South Sudan. Developing trust requires the development of high-quality independent content and the team there have been developing, coaching and mentoring partner organisations to produce content that builds trust. Utilising their social media platforms, the Internews Team in South Sudan will be asking local audiences, in the week prior to World Radio Day, “what has radio done for you?”. This engagement will use content gathered from the field by various partner organisations who have conducted interviews with the public and local figures and will highlight the relationship that radio has built with audiences in South Sudan. 

The high tempo digital age has created an environment that enables disinformation and misinformation, building trust has never been more relevant for radio than it is now. Embracing the theme of trust, Moussa Doumbia, Project Director in Mali, explains that the Internews Team in Mali will be supporting local radio stations and the Union des Radios et Télévisions Libres and the Mali Press House in their efforts to celebrate World Radio Day through talk shows and dialogue.  

Karim Benard-Dende is the Internews Country Director in the Democratic Republic of Congo and says, “we are currently really focused on viability in our programs, so we would like World Radio Day to be an opportunity to talk about viability with a focus on accountability to the community”. To this end the local office will extend the Media Sector Development Activities (MSDA) programme by supporting a Media roundtable in Kinshasa, organized by the National Association of Community Radios. The round table discussion will examine issues faced by local radio stations in developing sustainable business models. In the spirit of community radio, the roundtable will be broadcast online and made available to all 77 radio stations that Internews are working with in the MSDA programme. Under the global sub- theme of World Radio Day, trust and viability, the discussions in Kinshasa will add to the dialogue of ensure competitiveness and understanding how can radio survive when financial crisis hits a media market. 

Africa is a continent of the spoken word, storytelling and a rich history of communication. Radio is a medium that embraces these characteristics, it speaks to underserved communities, empowers dialogue and discussion and is often a hub and meeting place of people and ideas. As we acknowledge the role radio continues to play by celebrating World Radio Day it is important to recognize those practitioners who work tirelessly ensuring that audiences are informed, educated and entertained.

On the 13th of February take a moment to consider the role of radio and trust in your life and celebrate with millions around the world.

To Radio. To Trust.