WORLD RADIO DAY 2022 – RADIO AND TRUST
Proclaimed in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day, February 13 became World Radio Day (WRD).
Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content, and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations.
Radio continues to be one of the most trusted and used media in the world, according to different international reports. The theme of the 2022 edition of World Radio Day is thus devoted to “Radio and Trust”.
UNESCO calls on all radio stations to celebrate on the 13th of February the eleventh edition of World Radio Day, under the theme “Radio and Trust”. Building on more than a century of its history, radio remains one of the most trusted and widely used media. Throughout the years, radio provided quick and affordable access to information in real time and professional coverage about matters of public interest, as well as guaranteed distance education and entertainment. Bridging between “traditional” and state-of-the art technologies, radio now offers a variety of content through different devices and formats, such as podcasts and multimedia websites. Still, not all world citizens believe they get the information they need. Recent world events and the Covid-19 pandemic have eroded trust in the media in general, fuelled by the circulation of false content rapidly spreading on social media. Concomitantly, the financial context, the forced reduction of staff and the loss of advertisement to Internet companies have accelerated declines in news media revenue, including for radio, and raised the costs of verified information, particularly
for local radio outlets. However, specific media studies reveal a global decline in trust in Internet and social networks but a rise in overall trust in the news. And many citizens still ascribe greater confidence in radio than in any other media.
This confidence level further reinforces the importance of providing citizens with accurate and reliable information whatever its costs, this being what people expect from media in current times when lives are at stake. Part of people’s trust in radio is due to its low cost and ubiquitous nature. Despite digitalization being a global tendency, digital access to information is far from being equal with huge differences remaining between regions and between communities, in terms of both Internet subscription and ownership of computers at home. In comparison, radio remains affordable and can be listened to everywhere, even when electricity or connectivity are not reliable. Radio is thereby one of the most popular means of communication, used by an overwhelming majority of people.
Digitalisation further favours radio’s impact as an important source of information for persons with disabilities since new services and content can be developed to harness the capacities of smart speakers or accessible radio receivers. This and other types of diversity and inclusion are becoming crucial to maintain and raise trust levels in media. In this respect, radio also has a key role to play, since it can fit in programmes for minorities or give the microphone to specific communities in easier ways than other types of media, which would require an expensive roll-out of language services or camera teams to do so.
Community radio, for instance, reaches out to those under-represented in mainstream and social media, who may feel better understood and fairly portrayed and consequently attribute trust to their local station. Radio can comfortably answer audiences’ call for diversity in the newsroom and editorial content.
Trust and viability of radio stations
How can radio survive when financial crisis hits the media market? How to transform loyal
audience engagement into financial sustainability? This sub-theme links the economic survival of radio stations to their ability to attract and retain a large enough base of loyal listeners to be sustainable or to embed listener interaction into their business models.
Most radio stations are small or medium enterprises, when not totally non-profit, and find
themselves in dire situation. Even public service broadcasting is facing license fee cut plans and reticence from citizens to pay audio-visual taxes in times of streaming services and Web radio when they can access content otherwise. New funding models are to be researched and discussed, for instance subscriptions, membership models, pay-per-listened content, very local advertisement and other.
1 Particularly in Europe, according to the EBU Trust in Media Report 2021,
2 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer | Edelman
5 Trust in Media | EBU
6 ITU, Measuring ICT for Development, https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/coreindicators/default.aspx