By Michael Harrison
The United Nations and its specialized agency, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have given the radio industry all around the globe an invaluable gift. It’s called “World Radio Day 2024.” Now in its 13th installment, WRD takes place annually on February 13 with the purpose of spotlighting the accomplishments, importance, and ongoing relevance of the radio medium as it evolves deeper into the 21st century. This year’s theme is “Radio: A Century Informing, Educating and Entertaining.” By officially designating the platform as worthy of its own officially sanctioned UN International Day, the august world body has recognized, spotlighted, and endorsed radio’s continuing relevance and potential for being a vital force for the betterment of humanity.
On a global level, the scope of radio is huge. However, we, practitioners of radio in America, face formidable challenges keeping the spirit and uniqueness of the platform viable as both a business and iconic connector as it faces the growing risk of simply getting lost in the noise and distractions of the ceaselessly evolving digital era. I strongly encourage my American colleagues to embrace WRD 2024 for the fabulous opportunity it offers our industry to make a compelling case for the ongoing importance and positive impact of radio to inform, educate and entertain.
Please read and consider any or all of the following “13 Ideas to Celebrate World Radio Day 2024” posted on the UNESCO website and in TALKERS magazine.
1. World Radio Day Minutes. Air the UNESCO package of 20 pre-produced “World Radio Day Minutes”. They are 60-second audios discussing interesting aspects of the radio medium during its first 100 years of service to humanity. The texts figure in their descriptions so that you have the option of producing your own episodes in other languages. These short-form audios can be programmed on a schedule of your choosing leading up to and on February 13, World Radio Day (WRD). You can run them as non-commercial announcements or offer them for local sponsorships.
2. Talk Shows Celebrating Radio. Program (pre-produced or live) talk shows with local and national experts talking about the importance of radio for quality information, highlighting its 100-year history and continuing relevance. Recruit legendary and retired radio personalities known to your audience to participate in these programs supplemented by real clips from the past to be aired leading up to or on February 13.
3. World Radio Day 2024 Live Event. Schedule a live indoor or outdoor event (depending upon climate) on February 13 celebrating World Radio Day 2024. Invite listeners free (or charge admission in conjunction with a charity). Feature a panel discussion about the relevance of the entire audio sector in a changing media world as well as local legends telling stories about their service to the public through radio. Supplement it with display tables presenting local businesses and sponsors. Consider holding it on a local college or university campus in conjunction with the school’s communication department. Organize a group of diverse stations (either under one corporate umbrella/cluster or actual competing ones) to join forces in support of information, entertainment and education through radio in general. The results will be beneficial for everyone involved.
4. World Radio Day 2024 Sponsorship with Local Consumer Electronics Store/Chain. Arrange a sales promotion with a local store or chain of stores within your market to offer listeners a significant one-day discount (February 13) on all AM/FM radios and radio-related equipment.
5. International Dialogue. Schedule interviews/conversations (either live or prerecorded) with your broadcast colleagues from other countries to compare and contrast the history and strength of radio in their respective countries on or leading up to February 13. These shows can be simulcast on both stations or simply be one host interviewing another. For Partnership Opportunities, please check here which stations or partners around the world are interested in collaborative programming and you could contact now.
6. The Greatest “Radio Songs” of All Time. There are songs in almost every pop music format that contain the word “radio” in them or refer to the medium of radio. Highlight the “Greatest Radio Songs of All Time” into your playlist intermittently or as a “countdown show” on February 13 in commemoration of World Radio Day 2024. This is an easy and simple way to highlight World Radio Day and create a fun and entertaining programming element.
7. Visit to a Radio Station. Offer guided tours of your facilities to listeners or local school classes leading up to and on February 13 in celebration of World Radio Day 2024. This will be an effective outreach to a younger generation of new listeners and create community goodwill.
8. Radio and Emergencies. Emphasize radio’s impact as an informational public safety net entering its second century of service. Use World Radio Day 2024 as a reason to talk about and remind listeners of the value of the medium to provide a lifeline to the public when the electricity goes out and the internet goes down. There are numerous examples in just the past year alone to draw from in terms of earthquakes, wildfires, and storms in which radio news helped people in distress in real time. This is also a talking point in the current issue about some automobile manufacturers choosing to not equip new car models with AM radios.
9. Theater of the Mind. Use World Radio Day 2024 as a focal point for radio being the “Theater of the Mind” by producing your own locally produced radio dramas and airing them on February 13. You’ll provide intelligent entertainment, support cultural expression, and stimulate listener interest.
10. Radio, the Original Interactive Mass Medium. Recognize radio’s claim to the title “The Original Interactive Mass Medium” and “The Original Social Media” by using these phrases as often as appropriately possible on February 13. Radio pioneered the concept of taking live calls from listeners on the air to give opinions and receive advice in addition to playing musical requests and announcing dedications in real-time on the air. Highlight the interaction with listeners.
11. Take Me Out to the Stadium. Radio was the first mass medium to provide live, real-time play-by-play coverage of sporting events. The history of radio’s connection to sports is deep and rich. There is a lot of colorful sports broadcasting history to discuss in celebration of World Radio Day 2024 and nourish vibrant conversations.
12. Podcasts. Post several new and timely podcasts featuring quality conversations and panel discussions with experts and leaders in the radio profession from around the world as supplemental World Radio Day 2024 content on your station or network website. You can also generate your own podcasts and programs about radio for placement on your website or general distribution.
13. Positive and Pro-Active – Accomplishment, Pride and Hope. World Radio Day 2024 provides you with a supportive platform and focal point to pursue business, civic and social relationships within your community, and protect free, independent, pluralistic radio. WRD 2024 symbolizes radio’s century of accomplishment, pride in the present and hope for the future. Celebrate World Radio Day 2024 spreading this optimistic perspective leading up to, during and following February 13.
For more information, visit https://www.unesco.org/en/days/world-radio
Michael Harrison is a legendary American broadcaster who has served as executive advisor to UNESCO for World Radio Day 2024. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.