100 years of radio celebrated worldwide


This year it is a century since the very first live radio broadcast took place in 1924 on the eve of the start of the Olympic Games in Paris, France.

This milestone reminds us that since its inception at the end of the 19th century, radio has been an inseparable part of society.

So says Audrey Azoulay, director-general of the United Nations (UN) organization for education, science and culture (Unesco). The annual celebration of World Radio Day on 13 February each year was established by this organization.

This year’s theme is “Radio: A Century Informing, Entertaining, and Educating”.

“Radio has always been with us and binds us together in powerful moments and shared emotions. So, over a century, we are informed, entertained and educated, as is underlined by this year’s theme.”

According to Azoulay, there are still more than four billion radio listeners worldwide, and more than a third of the world’s population does not have a reliable internet connection.

Radio is also more inclusive and accessible, especially in rural areas, as a source of information and entertainment.

“Radio gives a voice to the voiceless, empowers all individuals and communities to express themselves, and creates diversity of cultures in life. This is why Unesco encourages community radio around the world.”

According to Charonike Nel, music composer and announcer at the Pretoria community radio station Groot FM, radio is one of the most important mediums of communication in South Africa.

“Apart from our socio-economic circumstances, which contribute to the fact that radio is still the most accessible medium in our country, it will also remain the most personal medium.

“There is something special and almost magical about radio, because it doesn’t matter if you are in your bathroom, living room or in the back of a bakkie, that person is talking to you and you can communicate directly with that person,” says Nel.

“The immediate connection between two people who live miles apart is special. It is a privilege to be able to work in radio and to be able to celebrate radio not only today, but every day.”

Riaan Grobler, announcer at Pretoria FM, says radio is sometimes listeners’ only company and is the only medium that continues to grow in listener numbers.

“It’s in your car, in your house, and it’s so important because it’s the place where you can get news, entertainment and good company. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to work in radio and visit people’s homes and cars.”

According to Ignaz Streicher, manager and announcer at Overvaal Stereo on Viljoenskroon in the Free State, World Radio Day is an important date on the radio world’s calendars.

“This is a day when it is confirmed once again what the power of a medium like radio is and that our efforts as broadcasters to inform and educate the world do not go unnoticed.”

Lynden Jafta, owner, founder and announcer of the community radio station Paarl FM in the Western Cape, says radio creates hope for the hopeless and provides entertainment for listeners going through a difficult time.

“The power of radio is when you turn it on. You as a broadcaster must create such a picture for your listeners that they can see it so clearly and draw hope from it.”

Rikus van Rooy, program manager at Tygerberg FM in the Western Cape, says radio has proven over a century that it is a reliable platform.

“Radio carries relevant information and speaks to listeners’ hearts. It is an intimate medium that makes a difference in people’s lives worldwide.”

Liomee Vosloo, announcer at Tygerberg FM, agrees with this statement. “Radio is a powerful medium to reach people immediately with a message of hope.”

“Radio means entertainment for the distant farm dweller; it’s the oxygen for the isolated sick person who lies alone in his bed,” says Marianne van Niekerk, announcer at Radio Namakwaland on Vredendal.

“Radio offers training for the unskilled and often it is a lifeline for the discouraged not to stay down, but to get up and try again.

“Long live the wireless!”