Connecting Communities at World Radio Day 2017

Connecting Communities

by Liz Ridgway.

In today’s developed parts of the world it’s easy for one to assume and take for granted the complex technologies at our disposal as we go about our busy lives. At the touch of a button from virtually any location, information, and person to person connections are available to us from Smartphones via text messaging and social media platforms, to traditional radio and television, web-based news platforms and live video messaging.  There is a bewildering number of ways in which we are able to connect today.  Of course for this interconnectedness to work it requires a complex infrastructure of technologies such as the World Wide Web, Wifi, data storage, IT servers and electricity supply. Ultimately, this comes at a considerable expense and investment, therefore, limiting this connectedness to the wealthiest and a few emerging economies that are part of the larger and more densely populated areas.

What happens in local, rural, remote or migrating communities where this infrastructure and technology is either underdeveloped or even unavailable? In this case, does radio play a more significant role than previously considered in connecting communities and providing people with a voice to share their experience, passions and information?

So it was without any consideration to any of the above as I attended the World Radio Day 2017 at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London to fly the flag for K2K Radio & Active Radio on the stall. I am someone who loves music and playing it for others, however, until today’s event I had never really considered how other people and communities utilize radio to play their music, share their news and ultimately convey their voices.

World Radio Day is about exploring today’s world of radio, bringing together community stations, local organizations, and international media groups to exhibit their work as well as create an exchange of ideas between industry professionals, radio enthusiasts, academics, students, and anyone curious really.

The theme of this year’s event was ‘Radio and Global Transitions’ to showcase the experience of migration, health crises, innovative communication technologies and how they are reflected in radio. For someone who neither is relatively new to radio nor has never attended a previous World Radio Day, the exhibition was buzzing with impressive stalls and interactive exhibitions representing communication & development organizations, community radio stations and more.

One of the interactive highlights included Radio.Garden, a web-based and Smartphone application that allows users to explore
an interactive globe filled with radio stations as it is happening right now and anywhere on the planet. It’s a little like Google Earth for radio stations and the biggest radio dial you’ve ever seen and experienced. SOAS Radio were broadcasting from the exhibition where stalls were presented by RadioActive and of course K2K Radio, Development Media International, SciDev, Radio Souriat (Syrian Women’s Radio for Peace), InsightShare, London International Development Centre, Refugee Radio Brighton and In Tune For Life.

Max Graef of RadioActive was kind enough to take time to speak to me about the work his organization does in underdeveloped parts of the world spanning some 30+ countries mostly throughout Africa and South America.  He said,

“Radio Active facilitates projects and provides advice for communities wishing to build their own radio stations taking into consideration location, existing infrastructure and funding. One examples was a project to provide a low cost radio station in a remote part of Nigeria where there was no power nor telephone lines, so solar technology was a key in maintaining the station as an entity with zero running costs in power supply. At the same time, providing a small studio starting at the low cost of circa £2, 000 thus giving a local community the resource to communicate and share information.”

Seeing examples of the projects Radio Active has helped facilitate was so inspiring.

World Radio Day also included Workshops by Roundhouse Radio and Whistledown Productions with a high profile Panel Discussion closing the event where speakers from New York University, BBC Media Action, Transnational Radio Encounters and Refugee Radio Brighton discussed how radio is representing global transitions.

So when I return to my initial consideration of how do people share their voices in local, remote or migrating communities where infrastructure and technology is non-existent, viable nor available it is clear from what I have seen, heard and experienced today that radio has a significantly broader scope, and benefits for communication than generally we give it credit for in today’s hi-tech developed economies. This is largely due to its low investment costs, its mobility, the use of existing technology and its geographical reach into remote locations. In more developed areas, unlike the mass media where local and personal voices are seldom heard above the hubbub of celebrity and 24hr news, radio has the scope and benefits of giving specific communities a voice regardless of location or without prohibitive financial investment. The technology of radio is rapidly advancing so whether its broadcast on FM or via the World Wide Web, through a Smartphone application or podcast from Tangambalanga, Ouagadougou, London, a refugee centre or an education institution radio continues to give communities the opportunity to communicate. By harnessing the opportunities that radio presents, communities can share local information, education, inspiring stories and passions.  Ultimately this must eventually lead towards transforming lives on a local or global level and surely this is something all of humanity benefits from.

World Radio Day 2017 at SOAS, London was a vibrant and incredible mix of people and organizations sharing information and collective ideas for communities to voice.  It was a personally transformative day for me too. It’s a must-attend event for anyone with an interest or professional investment in radio.

World Radio Day, London  was held on Friday, 10th February 2017, hosted by SOAS Radio, co-hosted by C4D-Network and the Centre of African Studies, Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

 

Get involved with K2K Radio in a number of ways!  To join us as a presenter or behind the scene, advertise or make general enquiries visit www.k2kradio.com or connect with us via social media on Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Or listen in and join the conversation by telephoning the studio hotline on +44(0)78 4587 9122 during one of our shows.

Written by Liz Ridgway, a radio presenter and DJ at K2K Radio, London where she presents her monthly show, The Lounge.

Edited by Maha Rahwanji, a radio presenter on K2K Radio, London, where she presents her bi-monthly show, Maha’s Music and is the Operational Manager of the station.


Coming up

April 2017

The Mayhew Animal Home’s Abseil The ArcelorMittal Orbit at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Taking place on April 30th 2017, this adrenaline pumping abseil not only challenges you to take on the highest sculpture in the UK, but also the highest free fall abseil. Dangling at 262ft, you will have the most amazing panoramic views of the city stretching for 20 miles. Not only is this an opportunity to support the work of The Mayhew Animal Home, but this also a chance to enjoy a truly unforgettable experience.

For more information and to sign up for the event, please visit – https://www.themayhew.org/events/abseil/