World Radio Day 2019: A look at the themes explored by UNESCO over the years


In the eighth year of celebration now, World Radio Day 2019 is all about how radio as a medium spurs debates, discussions and diverse views.

“Unless human beings can communicate over a distance on their own, without the aid of any technology, Radio shall continue to enjoy an unmatched position.”

Jorge Álvarez, President of the Spanish Radio Academy, spotlighted this idea (at least the essence of it) in his message on World Radio Day in 2015. This was years after the academy suggested establishing an annual event to celebrate the power of radio as a medium to UNESCO.

UNESCO saw the need for an international observance and complied, making the proclamation at the 36th General Conference. It declared February 13 – the same day the United Nations had established the United Nations Radio in 1946 – as the World Radio Day. Eight years on, this year’s edition is about how radio as a medium spurred debates, discussions and diverse views.

The official theme this year is “Radio: Dialogue, Tolerance, and Peace”. Like every year, UNESCO will oversee the celebrations, and promote positive dialogue through theme-specific programming by radio stations, regulatory bodies and related organisations.

Also read: ‘Radio is the theater of the mind’ – 100 quotes on World Radio Day

“Broadcasts that provide a platform for dialogue and democratic debate over issues, such as migration or violence against women, can help to raise awareness among listeners and inspire understanding for new perspectives in paving the way for positive action,” the agency shared on its website.

World Radio Day – A look at the themes over the years

Celebrations officially began in 2012. While there was no defined theme for the first two years, from 2014, UNESCO has had a specific theme every year.

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Radio – Under this topic, several sub-themes were explored for the third World Radio Day in 2014. These included sensitising entities to develop gender-related policies and strategies for radio, eliminating stereotypes and promoting multidimensional portrayal in radio, promoting the safety of women journalists and more.

Youth and Radio – In 2015, celebrations were around the theme of participation of young people in radio. The idea was to highlight the contribution of youth to the medium and increase awareness regarding the safety of young freelancers.

Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster – When all fails, radio remains. The social impact of the medium, especially in times of an emergency or any kind of disaster is unmatched. And this was at the heart of the events that marked 2016’s World Radio Day.

Radio is You – Pretty self-explanatory,  2017’s theme took an audience-centric approach. It encouraged radio stations around the world to function in the best possible way. For radio stations, small or big, private or public, it meant ensuring continued dialogue with the industry and general public.

Radio and Sports – Last year, World Radio Day was focussed on the multitude of sporting events taking place around the world. As part of the gala, radio stations were urged to showcase the diversity and gender equality in sports coverage while promoting peace and development – values that coincide with UNESCO’s long-term goals.s

As we step into another year of celebrations and recognition, radio continues to bridge gaps, foster positive dialogue and counter the appeal for violence and spread of conflict – elements comprising the theme of this year’s World Radio Day.