From the invention by Edwin Howard Armstrong of a frequency-modulated or FM radio in 1933 to the introduction in 1954 by Japan’s Sony of the transistor radio, and from the first radio broadcastings in 1965 from the Empire State Building in New York City, and to today’s dawn of digital radio, the medium has been seriously challenged, but has nonetheless stood the test of time.
And as the world celebrates Radio Day on 13 February, there is a need to look back at the relevance of the medium and see how best the quality of content can be improved, and the collaboration between radio broadcasters can be enhanced. Furthermore, there is also a need to see how the interests of advertisers, especially in commercial radio, can be looked after.
Despite fierce competition from various digital gadgets, radio is still alive and kicking, as its growth continues to shake the prophets of doom who predicted its premature death long time ago. And against all odds, the medium is still keeping millions of people in developing countries informed about their leaders’ abuse of power, economic mismanagement, nepotism, terrorism and climate change, among others.
Radios are everywhere, with at least 75% of households in developing countries having access to the medium, UNESCO said, quoting figures from the Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2012 report.
There are about 44 000 radio stations worldwide, according to the CIA World Factbook.
In 11 countries surveyed across Africa, local commercial radio grew by an average of 360% between 2000 and 2006, whereas community radio grew by a striking 1 386% on average over the same period, Peter da Costa, of the Glocal Times, reported in the Communication for Development Journal in 2012.
In South Africa, where over 200 community radio stations broadcast in many different languages, Lumko Mtimde, CEO of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) said the medium continues to play a significant role in helping people in all their diversity to communicate with each other in order to strengthen democracy, and promote a culture of human rights.
Mtimde also said radio is enabling everyone to participate fully in the country’s economic growth and speed up transformation and development.
“We have good reasons to join the world,” he said in a statement. “Further, we are celebrating 76 years of SABC Radio, 20 years of Community Radio, 51 years of radio freedom, more than 20 years of commercial radio, 20 years of the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) and 10 years of the MDDA.”
*Photo by Porchooneh Media