A true story: when I used to have a day job, I’d listen to BBC Radio Scotland during my morning commute. I’d listen to the people on comedian Fred MacAulay’s programme and think “that must be a laugh to do. Imagine if that was your job.” These days, I’m one of the people going on Fred’s programme, and I’m thinking “this is a laugh to do. I can’t believe this is my job.”
Radio’s a magical thing. I have fond memories of listening to Irish radio under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep as a child, trying and failing to get into the bands on John Peel’s playlist as an adolescent, drunkenly calling late-night phone-in idiot-fests as a twentysomething, hearing my own band played on an indie rock show in my late twenties and damn near falling out of my car laughing at various programmes – some of them serious – today. It’s a fantastic medium and I feel very privileged to be even slightly involved in it.
It’s World Radio Day today. As UNESCO director general Irina Bokova says:
“In a world changing quickly, we must make the most of radio’s ability to connect people and societies, to share knowledge and information and to strengthen understanding. This World Radio Day is a moment to recognise the marvel of radio and to harness its power for the benefit of all.”
Since the first broadcast over 100 years ago, radio has proven to be a powerful information source for mobilizing social change and a central point for community life. It is the mass media that reaches the widest audience in the world. In an era of new technologies, it remains the world’s most accessible platform, a powerful communication tool and a low cost medium.