Celebrating radio across Africa : World Radio Day 2020

World Radio Day

For World Radio Day 2020, our teams across Africa were busy – as usual. Whether they led their own celebration and event, attended radio conferences and forums, visited radio stations, or simply headed to the field to do their every day work, our teams spent Feb. 13 doing their best work in making radio a powerful tool for development and change across the continent.

This year’s theme for World Radio Day was diversity: diversity of content, diversity of representation, and diversity of radio stations themselves. It was a theme we very much support, and our teams took to heart.

Here are some stories and videos from our country offices from World Radio Day. 

The faces of diversity: Celebration and reflection in Senegal on World Radio Day

For broadcasters in the southern and rural region of Kolda, Senegal, diversity in radio has many faces. Located more than 650 km from Dakar, Kolda is a region unique from the capital city in many ways. While Dakar speaks French and Wolof, for example, many other languages dominate the region of Kolda, including Pulaar, Mandika, and Soninke.

However, for the 16 radio stations which gathered with us to celebrate World Radio Day (February 13), language is one effort among many to make radio more diverse. A day rich in exchange, broadcasters took the opportunity to discuss how the theme of the year is fulfilled – or falls short – at their stations.

In order to make radio accessible to all, language is obviously an important focus. Beyond this, however, there are still larger questions – like the issue of gender.

World Radio Day. Broadcasters in Senegal.
Radio broadcasters discuss how to incorporate gender into their emissions.

For this reason, partners in the Kolda region explained the ways in which they work to incorporate aspects of gender into programs, regardless of subject matter. For instance, what is the intersection between women and improved crop yields? At first glance, the answer isn’t always evident, but it is always important.

Apparently, so too is simply asking the question; as one journalist said, it is one thing to have programs specifically oriented towards women and quite another to include gender in all programming.

But by doing so, radios not only addresses female listeners more meaningfully on matters which directly affect them but also, help male listeners to understand the subject in a new light.

So important is gender to radio that its relevance does not end with programming. Rather, as several female broadcasters and journalists explained, the concept is of fundamental importance to the operation of radio stations themselves.

For women working in media – a domain which often demands late nights and early mornings, plus homework – the ideals of work-life balance can be evasive. Coupled with the social demands of children and extended family, the nature of this work can be prohibitive for otherwise willing and capable women.

With this in mind, participants expressed the continued need within their workplace to better accommodate the needs unique to female staff, such as flexible hours or options for a safe and affordable nighttime commute.

Broadcasters in attendance also took a moment to recognize the formidable work of women in radio, who despite these challenges bring to the table a richness of opinion, perspective, and knowledge otherwise impossible without their participation.

With a great deal accomplished and still more to be done, World Radio Day in Senegal was an occasion for both celebration and reflection. Thanks to all who came out to share their experiences and once more, from the bottom of our hearts, happy World Radio Day!

Broadcasters in Senegal

What does radio mean to you: World Radio Day in Tanzania

Our team in Tanzania spent February 13th visiting radio stations and communities. They produced this great video showcasing what radio means to farmers: 

Diversity in all its forms: World Radio Day in Ethiopia

The 9th World Radio day was celebrated in Ethiopia on February 13th 2020 with this year’s theme being “diversity in all its forms”. The event was organized by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, or EBC, in Addis Ababa.

Asmeret Hilesilasie, Deputy Head of EBC and Head of Radio Department started the day by acknowledging the contribution of EBC for the development of the media in Ethiopia by being a trustworthy and reliable source of information for a very long time and by bringing new and innovative ways of media work to the county.

Dr. Getachew Dinku, Director of Ethiopian Broadcast Authority, gave a speech highlighting the development of radio in Ethiopia. Radio has been active in Ethiopia for more than 84 years and is being broadcasted in 62 languages, he said, mentioning that most radio stations are community radio stations reaching local, rather than national audiences.

During the day itself, different award and recognition ceremonies took place: one for radio broadcasters with the best program, and the other for life time achievement recognition of senior broadcasters. Farm Radio International sponsored the award for lifetime achievement, honouring three veteran broadcasters: Belhu Teref, a journalist who has served for more than 37 years; Dejenie Tilahun, who has hosted one of the first book narration radio programs in Ethiopia, “Kemetsehaft-Alem,” for more than 30 years; and Ibrahim Ajali, a sport, musician and songwriting journalist from EBC who has served for more than 30 years. The awarded journalists and broadcasters were selected for their exceptionally long and significant service over the airwaves.

Two panel discussions also took place:

The first spoke about the role of radio during elections – an important role for radio and journalists in Ethiopia. Panelists were Dr. Teshager Shiferaw from Addis Ababa University, Aderaw Genetu from UNESCO, and Soliana Shimeles, a Communications consultant at Ethiopian Election Board

The second panel was called “Radio in Ethiopia and the future” featuring Belhu Terefe, a former EBC journalist, Zelalem Nega from Farm Radio International and Nazif Jemal, an independent journalist.

Zelalem Nega discusses the potential of radio as an important development tool on World Radio Day.

The panel discussed the development of radio since its start and the challenges it has presented. Belhu, one of the veteran broadcasters awarded at the event took the lead in discussion how radio has changed. Zelalem discussed the potential of radio as an important development tool, presenting the research, use of ICTs and proven approaches used by Farm Radio International and how these should be given attention when radio is used as a key extension device. He pointed out the value of using favoured air time and dates for development programs. As 80% of the population lives in rural areas and their livelihood base agriculture, special attention should be given to the suitability of the respective messages to these sections of the community. To address these needs radio stations should give emphasis to research-based radio programming. Nazif talked about the development of social media and other electronic forms and the effect of these developments on radio as being both positive and negative.

The day showcased the significance of radio in the life of a wide range of diverse individuals. Radio creates a wonderful shared reality where people can be equally entertained and educated. Radio brings nostalgia to many and it is still here providing a great service to the world today.

World Radio Day photos from across the continent

About the authors

Hannah Tellier is a Radio Resources Assistant for Farm Radio International. A student at the University of Waterloo, Hannah believes the best classroom is the one we create while exchanging with others.

Nebiyu Yetsedaw is a Country Project Officer who has worked with Farm Radio International in Ethiopia for the past four years. Born and raised in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia, Nebiyu moved to Addis Ababa to complete his BA in Social Work from Addis Ababa University.

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