By Alfred Ajayi
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the first radio transmission was made from a temporary station set up by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895 on the Isle of Wight after a pioneering work in the field by a number of people including: Alessandro Volta, André-Marie Ampère, Georg Ohm and James Clerk Maxwell.
The radio broadcasting of music and talk intended to reach a dispersed audience started experimentally around 1905–1906, and commercially around 1920 to 1923.
However, it took up to thirty to thirty-five years after before VHF (Very High Frequency) stations started. In the early days, radio stations broadcast on the longwave, mediumwave and shortwave bands, and later on VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency).
As early as 1890 in the United Kingdom, Hungary, France and some other places, there was already a system whereby news, music, live theatre, music hall, fiction readings, religious broadcasts, etc., were available in private homes and other places via the conventional telephone line, with subscribers being supplied with a number of special, personalized headsets
By the 1950s, virtually every country had a broadcasting system, typically one owned and operated by the government.
In Nigeria, what later became the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria was founded in 1933 by the British colonial government as the Radio Diffusion Service (RDS), which allowed the public to hear the British Broadcasting Corporation’s foreign radio service broadcasts in certain public locations, over loudspeakers.
In April 1950, the RDS became the Nigerian Broadcasting Service and introduced radio stations in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan, and Kano.
It was later on April 1, 1957, by Act of parliament, reorganized into the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), with a mission to provide independent and impartial broadcasting services.
By 1962 the NBC had expanded its broadcast stations into Sokoto, Maiduguri, Ilorin, Zaria, Jos, and Katsina in the north; Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Onitsha in the East; and Abeokuta, Warri, and Ijebu-Ode in the West.
The NBC and the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria (BCNN) were merged in 1978 to become the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), which has remained the flagship of radio broadcasting in the country.
Indisputably, Radio has retained its relevance to human existence over decades despite technological advancements which have thrown up alternative media of mass communication.
Today, Feb 13, the global community celebrates this “most enduring” medium of communication with the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the World Radio Day.
It was proclaimed in 2011 by the member-States of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “New World, New Radio”. It also has three sub-themes namely: Evolution, Creation and Connection.
Evolution talks about radio changing with the world, a reality that establishes its resilience and sustainability.
Also, as the world is changing, radio has continued to adapt to new technologies and innovate to remain mobile and accessible to everyone, everywhere. Besides, radio has successfully connected people in the ever-changing world.
The World Radio Day is aimed at raising greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio, with the hope of encouraging decision makers to use it to establish and provide access to information. The day is also meant to improve networking and international cooperation between broadcasters.
The day brings people and communities from all backgrounds together in order to create dialogue for positive change. Radio is also a fantastic way to provide democratic debate over issues such as violence and political arguments. It can promote and raise awareness among old and new listeners.
According to UNESCO, the year’s theme, New World, New Radio is an ode to the resilience of radio and tribute to its capacity for perpetual adaptation to the rhythm of societal transformations and listeners’ new needs.
Accessible anywhere and anytime, radio reaches a broad audience and presents itself as an arena where all voices can be expressed, represented and heard.
This is why radio notwithstanding technological advancement, is still the most consumed medium worldwide today.
The day calls on radio stations, audio shows and podcasters around the world to participate and remind their listeners that radio is part of humanity’s history by forging links, providing us with many services and adapting to our lifestyles, thanks to the new technologies.
In 2021,UNESCO encourages radio stations to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the event as well as more than one hundred and ten years of radio. Events over decades have proven beyond reasonable doubt that radio remains relevant to humanity, notwithstanding the constant change in times and technologies. Technological advancement has rather impacted positively on the services radio renders to the populace.
Radio remains the most effective medium for advocacy. It helps a great deal in changing attitude and enlisting people for a particular course.
How can one quantify the contributions of radio towards efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.
Apart from helping to educate the people on the non-pharmaceutical preventive measures, radio becomes very useful in keeping the children, who were sent out of school, busy and in touch with their academic activities, even within the comfort of their homes.
The School on Air Initiative, which was experimented across states of the federation and seems to have come to stay, speaks volume of the relevance of radio even in emergencies.
No other medium has proven to be more useful than radio in conveying critical messages from governmental and non-governmental institutions to the populace including those found in the remotest localities.
This is because it provides easiest access to information to everyone regardless of socio-economic status.
For instance, while people need data to access online news website and fuel to power their generating sets before they can access information via the television, the cheapest phone, affordable to majority of citizens, has an in-built FM radio, which brings all relevant information at their beck and call.
Indeed, there are several media of mass communication, but radio stands tall among them all.