Happy World Radio Day!

Yes, it's February 13th--crunch time for last-minute Valentine's Day plans--but it's also World Radio Day. In 2011, UNESCO created World Radio Day as "a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression over the airwaves."

Radio is a powerful information source for mobilizing social change and a central point for community life--particularly in the developing world, where access to digital communication is more limited. Radio is the mass media that reaches the widest audience in the world and remains the world’s most accessible platform--a powerful communication tool and a low-cost medium that plays an essential role in emergency communication and disaster relief.

As those in the language industry know, radio programming provides a snapshot of the linguistics of media policy and is an invitation for a discussion about the politics of language, translation practices, and cross-cultural communications. As one of the most important means of broadening access to knowledge, promoting freedom of expression, and encouraging mutual respect and multicultural understanding, radio is a platform for information sharing and promoting public debate, and is particularly well-suited to remote and marginalized communities.

In honor of World Radio Day, UNESCO has posted interviews by notable world figures, highlighting the importance of radio yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I have posted an interview (in Russian, transcript in English) with Vladimir Spivakov, a leading Russian conductor and violinist and a UNESCO Artist for Peace.


“During the most difficult life periods, particularly during the siege of Leningrad, my mother told me that radio was the only source of light and hope, the only way to unite people, to give them the warmth that they really needed during the war. On victory day, people were listening to the radio in every small and large city. People were gathering on the streets, dancing, crying, hugging – it was a big day. However, radio has not lost its importance in the modern world. There are still many developing countries where people cannot afford TV sets, or where there is no TV, but only radio. If radio transmits moral truth, wonderful music or someone’s wise words, I find it very important. I am thankful that the radio exists.  I’m glad to be part of this UNESCO project – World Radio Day.”