World Radio Day: Supporting radio stations to evolve, innovate and connect to foster public accountability
Lusaka, 12 February 2021: To commemorate the 2021 World Radio Day , Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) calls on various stakeholders to support radio stations, especially rural based ones to evolve, innovate and connect in order to effectively foster accountability for public resources.
World Radio Day is commemorated every year on 13th February across the globe, to celebrate radio as a medium of communication and how it shapes people’s lives. Radio does not only inform, educate, and entertain, but it also transforms and unites people. This year, Word Radio Day is being commemorated under theme “New World, New Radio”, which is being addressed in three sub-themes namely: evolve, innovate, and connect.
Panos holds radio as a powerful and effective medium for bringing people together, amplifying their voices and supporting them to peacefully coexist and work together to drive development. This role is more pronounced for community radio stations, which in most cases provide the only platform through which people within a community engage and debate on issues, and identifying solutions to local development challenges. Community radio stations in most cases represent the peoplehood of the communities where they operate from, and provide a window through which the communities can express themselves and speak out on issues of concern to them.
In our work with radio stations, we have witnessed the numerous sacrifices that staff from radio stations, especially those working at community radios make to generate and disseminate content. We have seen some radio station staff members and volunteers, especially those for community radio stations, walking long distances and making personal sacrifices to generate content. We commend community media personnel for the many personal and institutional sacrifices they are making to provide relevant and timely content to their communities. We encourage the radio stations not to be deterred by the challenges they face, and continue to provide a platform through which citizens can participate in the management of their affairs.
Panos is concerned that the various challenges that radio stations grapple with every day makes it extremely difficult for them to effectively evolve, innovate and connect and effectively foster accountability for public resources. In most cases, community radio stations struggle to meet key operational costs, resulting in some of their staff members going unpaid for lengthy periods. It is for this reason that Panos is working with radio stations to provide a platform for citizens to foster accountability in public resource management, especially during this time when Southern African countries are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
State and non-state actors have a part to play in supporting radio to evolve, innovate and connect. We therefore call on different stakeholders – including government agencies and the private sector to provide financial and technical support for radio stations and allow them to evolve, innovate, connect, and effectively advance accountability for public resources. Effective radio programming requires substantial resources, and this is a challenge for most community radio stations, resulting in them producing and airing content for the sake of content. We believe that any form of technical and financial support to radio stations, especially community radio stations, can make a big difference which will help them to evolve, innovate, and connect.
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)