World Radio Day was declared by the United Nations through its Education Science and Cultural Organisation,          (UNESCO). It a day to celebrate radio as a medium, to improve broadcasters, to encourage and promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.

Radio is designed to reach all groups of society, including the disabled, women, youth and the poor. It is a mass medium, capable of reaching the largest audiences in the world and giving the public a platform to participate in debates regardless of their educational level.

It also has a strong and specific role in emergency communication, to educate and to inform the public around the world.

This year, World Radio Day is celebrated under the theme “Radio and Sport”.

SABC radio news editor Dumisani Shange started working for radio in 1979. He elaborates on the differences between radio services today and those of earlier years.

“Radio today… there is a quite a lot of changes that has taken place – people have got social media which assists them in broadcasting, unlike in the old days where we were just broadcasting what was coming from your head. It used to be a very challenging time, it was very difficult at the time, because we did not have the open line that we have on our radio now… Remember the time it was during difficult times of apartheid, government was closely monitoring us.”

With the theme of Radio and Sport for this year’s World Radio Day, former women’s cricket commentator on Ukhozi fm, Vicky Masuku, says sport creates peace, tolerance between different races and development in the society. She says the stereotype around women in sport should be challenged because anyone can present sport, irrespective of their gender.

“To me sport is a way of entertainment; after a long day at work or after a long week at work, you have to relax in one way or another… so sport is one way of relaxation, and the relationship between sport and radio, I think is that they say radio is the theatre of mind… if you are listening to a sport programme, then you try to make your own imagination about what is happening. It’s true that sport is regarded as a man thing, but in order to change that thinking I think we as women, if we are involved in sport, we need to double our efforts, make the best of the time that you are given.”

SABC radio journalist Khalesakhe Mbhense believes radio has a very important role to play in disseminating news.

“There is a relationship between news and radio… you know that radio can reach to millions and millions of listeners, so as a journalist, it is very important to know what kind of listenership do you have, so that it will help us to make sure that when we present our stories we give our listeners stories that they need… we do stories that touch their lives. As a journalist it is very important to know that we are the ears and eyes of our listeners… for example, as a radio journalist, I have to make sure that I paint a clear picture about the story that I am doing.”

Lotus FM talk show presenter Allan Khan says social media and the internet play a vital role in radio today.

“I think radio is such a powerful medium… in today’s modern world everyone talks about social media, but people cannot forget that radio was the original social media; we were connecting people way before you have things like Instegram, Facebook and Snapchat… and I think the power of radio should never be taken for granted, especially on us at the African continent, where a lot of our people are still accessing the world through radio, the product that you putting out on the radio is relevant to the market category at that moment in time. Now you need to be a multimedia content provider, so you need to have not just ability in studio but you need to be able to function in a digital world.”

World Radio Day was first celebrated in 2012, following a declaration by the UNESCO general conference.