Radio days

Celebrating a century-old medium of information and entertainment

Radio days


adio remains one of the primary sources of information for people worldwide, a medium that reaches the widest audience in the quickest possible time. It remains an effective platform for providing information, educating people, allowing expression across cultures and playing favourite music. No matter how advanced technology becomes, radio remains a popular and irreplaceable means of communication, especially during the occurrence of natural or man-made disasters.

The arrival of mobile phones has changed the consumption habits of millions, but many come with built-in radio chips and this has helped keep the radio industry effective more than 120 years after the first radio broadcast.

UNESCO has reported that 44,000 radio stations broadcast to five billion people, or roughly 70 per cent of the world. In developing countries, an estimated 75 per cent of households have access to a radio, making it an essential and reliable part of emergency response. In the USA alone, over 272 million people listen to the radio every week, the top reach medium that touches more individuals than any other device.

World Radio Day is celebrated on February 13 each year. The day was decided by UNESCO on November 3, 2011, during its 36th conference. It acknowledges the unique power of radio as a medium of information, education, entertainment and connection. The objectives of the day are to raise awareness among the general public and the media about the value of public service audio; to encourage decision-makers to promote free, independent and multicultural radio; and to strengthen networking and international cooperation between broadcasters. The theme for World Radio Day 2024 was: Radio: A Century Informing, Entertaining and Educating.

Radio, in addition to the above, promotes dialogue and understanding, contributing to peace and tolerance in a world facing complex challenges. It is a tool for development and social change that unites people to support democracy and look forward to the global peace process. By celebrating radio’s past, present and future, Radio Day inspires the next generation of radio fans and innovators. Radio serves as a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, empowering communities and promoting social inclusion.

Over 2,000 languages are broadcast on the radio, which means that people all over the world use the radio to communicate in their own languages. That means that people can tune in to the radio and listen to their favourite songs, news and other programmes in their own language. It’s also easily accessible and portable whilst travelling, working and eating. Radio is free and easily accessible to everyone online.

Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC, Radio Pakistan) operates 67 broadcasting units, out of which 33 are medium wave; seven are short wave; and 27 are FM stations. The Home Service programmes of Radio Pakistan broadcast in 28 languages for a total of 1,140 hours daily. Currently, about one in six Pakistanis (16.5 per cent) listen to the radio at least weekly. Notably, young Pakistani adults are most likely to listen to the radio weekly.

World Radio Day is observed on February 13 each year. The day was decided by UNESCO on November 3, 2011, during its 36th conference. It celebrates the unique power of radio as a medium of information, education, entertainment and connection.

At the time of independence, Pakistan had three radio stations located at Dhaka, Lahore and Peshawar. There are 36 radio stations in the country now. In October 1998, Radio Pakistan began FM transmissions in the country’s largest cities. That was the second phase of the radio revolution in Pakistan.

Radio is a powerful medium of instant communication available to everyone, everywhere and reaches 80 per cent of the country’s area and 96.5 per cent of the population. It usually devotes half of its air time to news, commentary, information and education slots; the rest is set apart for entertainment (sports, drama and music).

Trust in radio has been universally acknowledged. One great example of this was realised on August 13, 1947, at 11:59 pm, just before the clock struck midnight. Mustafa Ali Hamdani of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation made this historic radio announcement, broadcasting the birth of a new country. It was the prompt announcement that received the full trust of the people of Pakistan.

The FM broadcast also serves as Community Radio Station‚ University Radio Broadcasting and Organisational Broadcasting in the language and dialect of a particular area in accordance with their needs, style and taste. The number of cellular mobile phone users in Pakistan has increased the radio listening massively in the recent years as almost all cell phones have the facility of FM radio in-built. Radio travels with you as an unnoticeable companion, providing music to entertain, news to inform and weather forecasts to keep you safe.

This can meet the challenges as set by UNESCO for this year’s theme of promoting education, information and entertainment through radio. Locally, it can also promotes peace, interfaith harmony, patriotism, regional cooperation and friendship among various sections of the society as a source of social change in the country.

Pakistan has officially launched the installation project of a 1,000-kilowatt Digital Radio Mondiale digital transmitter at Radio Pakistan’s HPT complex in Rawat, Rawalpindi. This initiative will increase the signal strength and coverage area of Radio Pakistan’s broadcasts to 52 countries in Central Asia, Middle East, Far East and Eastern Europe, in addition to South Asia.

UNESCO invites the worldwide radio industry in all its many forms, commercial, public and non-profit, to join in this global celebration of the medium at this special and key juncture in its century-spanning journey. It is a remarkable achievement for a major mass communications medium to sustain its relevance for 100 years and still be a force for freedom of expression, joy and knowledge. As we proudly tell its story, we welcome radio’s future in the next century.

Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO director-general, said in her message, “On this day, the UNESCO calls on everyone – listeners, radio broadcasters and audiovisual professionals – not only to celebrate radio’s potential but also, and especially, to make greater use of radio as a unique instrument of education, information and entertainment.”

The writer is a playwright and a freelance journalist. He can be reached at and his blogging site:

Radio days