World Radio Day is marked every February 13.
It is a day set aside by the UNESCO to celebrate the most widely used medium globally. It is celebrated annually on February 13.
To commence the day, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, emphasised on the importance of radio, saying that it is an “accessible source of vital news and information.”
This year, the radio is being celebrated for its diversity.
As Mr Guterres expressed, “radio offers a wonderful display of diversity in its importance. It has a key role to play as a source of information.”
The radio’s newsroom
An average Nigerian listens to the radio. It is affordable and most radios do not need an electricity supply to function.
A radio on-air personality, who asked that his identity and that of his radio house not be revealed, stated that although there is diversity in the Nigerian radio’ newsroom, “we are still not where we are supposed to be.”
Highlighting the power of the newsroom, he said that unlike print and television stations, the radio newsroom is “lazy and dormant,” adding that most of them do not break the news, rather they rely on newspapers and television headlines for their stories, which, most of the time they do not verify.
He said that because most radio stations are commercially inclined, they do not carry everybody’s voice.
Citing an example of the bomb scare that happened in a Living Faith church in Kaduna, the OAP said that because Kaduna is his state of origin, he picked a peculiar interest to the story and, rather than report what everyone was saying, took it upon himself and went to the state to further investigate on the matter.
According to him, his investigation revealed that the man who was found with the bomb was actually not carrying a bomb but fireworks, which he had stolen the previous day from a wedding.
The reporter believed that after conducting the investigation, his radio station, which he considers one of the best in Nigeria, would give him the platform to do a special report on the subject matter, but he did not get that opportunity.
“Two weeks have passed now and I still have not done the special report, I did my background check and I found out it was fireworks and not a bomb,” he said.
His advised that as Nigeria joins the world to celebrate World Radio Day, “it is very important that the newsroom works harder to pass accurate information because accuracy is very important in news reporting.”
He further added that a lot of Nigerians are quick to consume information they get over the radio, so as the hub of every media, the newsroom needs to verify information and “help every Nigerian understand our diversity.”
Support to artistes
On the other hand, Okita Odeh, also known as Phantom, an artist in the music industry, who ventured into music in 2010, said that media, like radio and TV, have a huge role to play in supporting artists.
“Radio is still a very effective tool for artists to get music to their listeners because of its reach and the perception it provides to the artist’s profile.”
He said perception because artists in Nigeria, according to his experience so far, do not get “paid royalties for their records being played on radio.”
Sharing his challenges with getting his voice on radio, he spoke about “payola” which is a situation where “artists or their team go about leaving ‘small tokens’ for OAP’s in order to have a song get the necessary airplay and also sway the perception of listeners towards the artists.”
Another challenge he faces is the fact that as an independent artist, not backed by big labels, “resources and connections that can pay for radio promotion campaigns are unavailable,” also, “if you do not have direct contacts with OAPs, it is difficult to get your song on air.”
He also said that “whatever is given airplay is what the ‘new generation’ will try and copy, so we need to hear more variety and better-quality songs.”
As the world celebrates diversity in radio, it is important that everyone’s voice gets carried along, no matter their level in society. In the UN general secretary’s words, “let us recognise the enduring role of radio to promote diversity and help build a more peaceful and inclusive world.”