What is World Radio Day? UNESCO has designated 13th February World Radio Day, in recognition of the role Radio plays in mobilising social change and uniting communities. The date 13th February was selected to mark the birth of UN Radio in 1946. Radio not only  provides a low cost medium suited to reaching remote communities and vulnerable people, it also gives everyone the chance to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of their educational level.

To mark the inaugural Wold Radio Day, the Centre of African Studies and SOAS Radio at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, will be hosting a panel discussion entitled ‘New Perspectives on Traditional Radio.’ A variety of practitioners, academics and tools providers will discuss how this traditional platform can be used as tool for development and empowerment even in the most vulnerable and remote communities.

Lucy Duran a SOAS academic and BBC Radio 3 presenter will be joined by Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, Dr Chege Githiora Chairman of the Centre of African Studies at SOAS, Birgitte Jallov  from Empowerhouse/ Panos London, Carlos Chirinos from SOAS Radio, Linje Manyozo  from the London School of Economics and Amy O’Donnell FrontlineSMS:Radio.  The discussion will cover practical issues related to running a community radio station such as entrepreneurship in radio stations’ business models, obstacles of politicisation of the airwaves, radio as a tool for language revitalisation and volunteering in the radio and media sector.

SOAS Professor of International Relations Stephen Chan, who has worked as an advisor to numerous African governments in 2010 was awarded an OBE for his services to Africa, has his own regular SOAS Radio podcast in which he addresses sometimes controversial issues concerning Africa’s relations with the western world, said:

“I believe community and FM radio is the way of the future, particularly in developing countries. It can be such a cohesive and facilitating medium. But, at a university, it is especially important in order to spread knowledge widely, but in an entertaining and user-friendly fashion. I reckon the SOAS project has got a really nice balance in this respect.”

In tandem with World Radio Day, SOAS Radio will be launching their charity Radio Beyond Borders (RBB).  Embodying the spirit of World Radio day, RBB will work with student volunteers to support the use of radio and new media to promote development, communication and social cohesion. Volunteers will work with community radio stations in developing countries to provide training and support the running of radio stations and new media projects. Radio Beyond borders will work to share skills, build capabilities and promote cultural exchange, while providing a unique work and life experience for its volunteers.

Watch the live stream here at 4pm on Monday 13th Feb.