Every 13th of February is significant to broadcasters and On Air Personalities as it is tagged The World Radio Day.

Radio, a low-cost medium specifically suited to reaching remote communities and vulnerable people, has offered a platform to intervene in the public debate for over a century now and irrespective of people’s educational level, it continues to play a crucial role in emergency communication and disaster relief.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), radio has crossed the 100-year milestone hence, it is a significant occasion to commemorate the medium’s extensive virtues and continuing potency as it faces challenges to its audience and revenue numbers from digital platforms, social media, digital and generational divides, censorship, consolidations and economic hardships.

It is generally believed that the first radio transmission was made by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895 and radio broadcasting of music and talk that was aimed towards a wider audience came into existence, albeit experimentally, sometimes around 1905-1906.

The radio came into existence commercially in the early 1920s. Radio stations came into existence almost three decades later and the radio and broadcasting system became a common commodity around the world by the 1950s.

Almost 60 years later, in 2011, Member States of UNESCO proclaimed February 13 as being World Radio Day. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 as an International event.

One of the most widely consumed medium at the global level, the UN says the radio has the ability to “shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard.”

Following a proposal from Spain, UNESCO’s Executive Board recommended to the General Conference the proclamation of World Radio Day, based on a consultation process carried out by UNESCO in 2011. Subsequently, the then Director-General of UNESCO proposed the formation of United Nations Radio on February 13, 1946 and subsequently at its 36th session, UNESCO proclaimed February 13 as World Radio Day.

The UN General Assembly formally endorsed UNESCO’s proclamation of World Radio Day on January 14, 2013. During its 67th session, the UN adopted a resolution proclaiming February 13 as World Radio Day.

According to the United Nations, the objective of World Radio Day is to raise greater awareness among the public and media regarding the importance of radio.

The day also aims to encourage radio stations to provide access to information through their medium and enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters.

The theme for the World Radio Day, celebrated on February 13, 2024 is “Radio: A century informing, entertaining and educating”. The United Nations states, “The 2024 observance highlights the history of radio and its powerful impact on news, drama, music and sports. It also recognises the ongoing practical value as a portable public safety net during emergencies and power outages, caused by natural and human-made disasters, such as storms, earthquakes, floods, heat, wildfires, accidents and warfare. Furthermore, the continuing democratic value of Radio radio is to serve as a grassroots catalyst for connectedness within underserved groups, including immigrant, religious, minority, and poverty-stricken populations.”