Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Radio in 2013 is just as relevant as it was hundred years ago, according to the initiators of World Radio Day. Both the UN and UNESCO have endorsed their initiative to proclaim 13 February as an international radio-day. The people of Radio Dabanga know what decisive role radio can play. 'We save lives in Darfur on a daily basis', says editor Mohammed.

Radio Dabanga saves lives in Sudan
Radio can play a crucial role in conflict-areas, like Darfur. Radio Dabanga, co-founded by Free Press Unlimited, is the only reliable news source in this still dangerous Sudanese region. 'We warn Darfuris for potential attacks so they can flee before it is too late. This way we save lives on a daily basis. People like to know where it is safe and want to get the latest updates about the coordination of food aid', says Mohammed of Radio Dabanga. The radio station has approximately 2.5 to 3 million listeners everyday. Sudan's repressive regime, which imprisons and tortures journalists, ineffectively tries to boycott Radio Dabanga. 'The station broadcasts from surrounding countries on short wave radio, which propagates via the stratosphere and is therefore hard to sabotage', says Free Press Unlimited's Niels ten Oever.

'Radio is still Africa's largest mass-media'
Where other media fail, radio provides people with reliable news. It gives millions of illiterate farmers, isolated communities, and groups ignored by mainstream media like youth and women, daily access to independent information. Radio has enormous reach, both via short or long wave. 'In Africa you can buy a radio for no more than 3 or 5 dollars. And people do not depend on the availability of electricity in order to listen to the radio', says Leon van den Boogerd, team-leader at Free Press Unlimited. In Africa radio is still the largest mass-media, as television and Internet are scarce. Moreover, 'Radio perfectly fits within the oral communication culture of Africa, where only few people read newspapers', says Van den Boogerd,

Radio remains popular in the West despite smartphones and ipads
Today, radio has become popular in western culture despite our the rise in modern technology such as smartphones, laptops and ipads. Statistics from Dutch Media News show that in 2011 an average of 13 million people a week listened to radio in the Netherlands. 'When television was on the rise, people expected radio to disappear. As soon as the Internet was invented, people speculated about the end of television. In reality old media do not disappear but continue to exist alongside new media', says Ten Oever.

'Creating a global network in which radio-makers inspire each other'
On 13 February, 1946 UN radio was born. On this day people across the globe should commemorate the importance of radio. The committee organizing World Radio Day consists of 12 international radio associations. This day is also creating a global network of radio professionals, who inspire each other and work together on the future of radio around the world.