COMMENT: A century of radio: Recognising its integral role in society

18 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
COMMENT: A century of radio: Recognising  its integral role  in society Radio

The Sunday News

THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) says one of the highlights of celebrating the impact of radio in communities is “the continuing democratic value of radio to serve as a grassroots catalyst for connectedness within undeserved groups including immigrant, religious, minority and poverty-stricken populations; and as an instantaneous bellwether of public opinion expressed through the auspices of free speech in the public space.”

In addition, “Unesco recognises and understands the tremendous variety of business models and technological architecture in radio around the world as well as the independent nature of its companies and organisations, large and small, plus the idiosyncrasies of its on-air personalities. Thus, broadcasters are encouraged to bring their own culture, style and sensibilities to their individual celebrations leading up to and during the February 13 event.”

It is behind that background that Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Radio Day last week (13 February). The day was also an opportunity for radio stations to connect on-air with fellow broadcasters around the world. Of significance, radio has been in existence for a century.

“It is a remarkable achievement for a major mass communications medium to continue its relevancy past 100 years and still be a force for freedom of expression, joy and knowledge. As we proudly tell its story, let’s welcome Radio’s future in the next century,” said Unesco in an online post.

In Zimbabwe, radio continues to be an integral part of people’s lives, right from the war of liberation when it was used by liberation movements to send messages of hope to the masses back home. Radio has continued to educate and inform the masses to this day, with the Government going a step further to license 14 community radio stations countrywide which have given an opportunity to local people to speak to each other in their local languages and discuss issues unique and dear to them as locals.

The theme for this year’s celebrations — Radio: A Century Informing, entertaining and educating —  “shines a light on radio’s remarkable past, relevant present, and promise of a dynamic future.”

Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana is on record as saying the day provided an opportunity to reflect on the achievements the Government has made in terms of radio connectivity and infrastructure development.

“World Radio Day is a day for us to celebrate the milestones which have been made in our radio broadcasting industry. Our mandate as a ministry is to communicate Government policies to the citizens in real time, leaving no one and no place behind. So on World Radio Day, we take stock of the milestones in terms of radio connectivity and infrastructure development and reflect on areas which need attention.”

The Government, he said, has made huge strides in establishing new radio stations, particularly in under-represented communities and regions.

“The ministry has licensed 14 community radio stations and all are at different stages of broadcasting. We are in the process of capacitating Transmedia and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to ensure they put in place infrastructure that will see these community radio stations operating at full capacity for the benefit of the communities they serve. These community radio stations are serving previously marginalised communities which received poor or no signals at all from the traditional radio players. The idea of community radios is aimed at having content for the community by the community. We have situations whereby some communities depended on foreign broadcast, for example, Plumtree, but now with the birth of Radio BuKalanga, which was launched in December, the Plumtree community celebrates their voice.”

We take this opportunity to celebrate all those who have been involved with the radio communication medium in the past century and commend the Government for opening up the airwaves so that more radio stations are set up to tell the true Zimbabwean story.

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