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Radio is dead. Video killed the radio star. So the saying goes. Tell that to the 3 billion people who tune into their radio every week globally. That’s over one third of the global population. At Population Media Center, we know the popularity of radio, and popular radio entertainment, persists.
Radio is a medium that has been around for more than a century and has been an integral part of human life. Despite the advent of technology and the growth of other media, radio continues to be a popular form of entertainment and information for people all over the world.
Nikola Tesla showed off the first wireless radio in 1893. Marconi got the very first wireless telegraphy patent in England in 1896. Since then, we have seen many forms of communication technologies and delivery formats come and go. Some have lasting power. None have lasted as long as radio. Some will tell you the future is streaming and radios can’t compete. Some also said VHS and Blockbuster were the future.
In 2023, the theme for World Radio Day is Radio & Peace. At Population Media Center, we use radio programs around the world to build peace in communities, in individuals, in the home. Radio, and entertainment-education, has the power to build peace in hearts and minds, transforming communities to be more peaceful places for every living being that calls our planet home. Radio entertainment can be applied to global conflicts that require peaceful resolutions. Radio entertainment can be applied to the global war on women. Increasing women’s access to sexual and reproductive related health services is peace building. Changing behavior around violence against women is peace building.
“When I listened to Akakunizo I also encouraged my husband to listen. After listening together, we decided to use a family planning method. We went to the hospital and medical professionals explained our options to us. We decided to use an IUD as a form of family planning.”Akakunizo Listener
Protecting wildlife, including the conservation of apes, is peace building. Ending child marriage is peace building. The elimination of Female Genital Mutilation is peace building. So long as violence exists in the home, in schools, in hospitals, and in the mind, peace cannot be realized. So long as violence exists against the animals and ecosystems we share this planet with, peace cannot be realized. We change hearts and minds across the world with transformative storytelling, because violence anywhere threatens peace everywhere. We primarily do this with long-running, entertaining radio shows, because radio continues to draw big audiences and give voice to speakers in every community.
The power of radio is partly because of its affordability and the minimal energy it requires. In Nigeria, one of our programs only cost $0.08 USD per loyal listener and $0.18 USD for each person who adopted family planning. In Sierra Leone, the cost was $0.53 USD per loyal listener, reaching an estimated 3 million loyal listeners between 15-59 years old. The cost was $2.54 USD for each person that began discussing family planning with family, friends, or neighbors and the cost was $1.62 USD for each person that began using a bed net to prevent malaria. You need not be a mathematician to clearly deduce that radio is effective —and can also be cost-effective.
“Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content, and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations. Radio continues to be one of the most trusted and used media in the world, according to different international reports.”
In an age where technology has brought about a plethora of options for entertainment and information, one might think that radio might have lost its charm. However, that’s far from the truth. Radio has adapted to the digital age and continues to thrive. With the rise of the internet, listeners can now tune into their favorite radio stations from anywhere in the world. From streaming live radio, to catching up on missed shows through podcasts, radio has embraced technology to reach out to larger audiences – while staying affordable and simple for local communities to connect without wifi or smartphones or, often, even electricity. Radio has a unique power to reach out to people from all walks of life.
For years, perhaps decades, there have been predictions that radio is on its last legs. “Rest in Peace” has been written on the theoretical tombstone of radio. Instead, radio has lived on, and it will continue to live powerfully. At PMC, we rely on radios to bring transformaive stories – powerful messages of peace – to communities around the world
Will you chip in to amplify peace building globally on World Radio Day?