| 18 Apr 2024
100 years of Radio celebrated at the 7th edition of The Radio Festival

MUMBAI : The 7th Edition of The Radio Festival (TRF) was held on February 13, 2024, at the India International Centre, New Delhi, in collaboration with UNESCO, Prasar Bharti, UNICEF, CEMCA, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In addition to celebrating the theme ‘100 Years on Air: Keep it Loud,’the festival shone a spotlight on the 20 year journey of Community Radios in India.

The day started with a melodic and lively performance by ARSD College’s Music Society, ‘Saarang’. The 7th Edition was formally launched at the inaugural session by the Secretary of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Mr Sanjay Jaju, Additional Secretary MIB Ms Neerja Sekhar, Principal Director General of All India Radio Ms Vasudha Gupta, Director of UNESCO New Delhi Regional Office Mr Timothy Curtis, Director of CEMCA Dr B Shadrach and Founder of TRF Ms Archana Kapoor.

Delivering the Keynote Address, Mr Jaju spoke about the pivotal role being played by community radios as a medium of communication at the grassroots. “The growth from 38 to 481 community radio stations over the years showcases the medium's significance. Community radio's feedback-driven, bottom-up approach is crucial for addressing health, education, and livelihood issues, making government programs more effective and responsive,” he said.

He also announced measures taken by the Ministry to support community radios, including the relaxation of restrictions on the number of stations an organization can have and the extension of advertising duration to aid financial sustainability.

Ms. Sekhar spoke about the importance of Community Radio in a linguistically diverse country like India, especially within the context of the UNESCO-declared decade of indigenous languages. “People prosper when knowledge is imparted in their mother tongue. Recently, I listened to a podcast from a community radio station that crisply explained climate change and the impact it has on each of us, highlighting the critical role of climate literacy in achieving sustainable development goals,” she said.

Mr Curtis, Director of UNESCO New Delhi Regional Office highlighted the challenges radio faces from social media, digital advancements, and the spread of misinformation. “In recent years, the rise of misinformation and disinformation has posed a threat to public trust in the media. These falsehoods, easily spread through various media, can weaken social cohesion and hinder development efforts. UNESCO has been promoting media and information literacy to counter these challenges and will continue to advocate for more measures, including updated reporting skills and the formulation of media policies,” he said.

Mrs Archana Kapoor, Founder of TRF, noted, “As we look towards the future, we embrace the digital age not as a challenge to radio's relevance but as an opportunity to expand its reach and influence. The essence of radio – its warmth, intimacy, and community-building power – remains unchanged, and it's up to us to nurture and preserve this medium for future generations.”

The event provided a distinctive platform, bringing together esteemed figures from the past alongside emerging talents across all segments of the radio broadcasting industry, including All India Radio, commercial FM channels, and Community Radio. Through a series of engaging panel discussions attended by an audience of over 300 individuals, renowned personalities from the industry delved into the rich tapestry of radio's history, its enduring relevance in today's landscape, and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead in its evolution.

During the panel discussion titled ‘The Journey of Radio,’ former BBC Hindi radio journalist Mr. Madhuker Upadhyay reflected on the profound history of radio, stating, “Radio stands as the sole torchbearer of this nation; it speaks, listens, and resonates with the pulse of the country.”

In the panel ‘100 Years on Air: A Gendered Perspective,’ Ms. Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO of RED FM & Magic FM, expressed her commitment to empowering female talent, noting, “My inclination always leans towards discovering female talent, recognizing the challenges they face in proving themselves to the world. Given the right opportunities, they demonstrate unparalleled dedication and excellence.”

Speaking at the same panel Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of BW Businessworld Group & Founder of Exchange4Media Group said, “We should not look at radio with a gendered lens. Radio holds a very essential place in advocacy and awareness related to important women-related issues.”

Speaking at the same panel, Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of BW Businessworld Group & Founder of Exchange4Media Group, emphasized, “We should not perceive radio as a gendered affair. Radio plays a crucial role in advocating and raising awareness about important women-related issues.”

In the enthralling panel titled ‘Casting A Spell with Words,’ celebrated theater personalities Mr. Salim Arif and Ms. Rama Pandey, alongside radio veterans Ms. Ritu Rajput and Ms. Suchitra Gupta, and literary critic Ms. Rakhshanda Jalil, captivated the audience with their mastery over language. Ms. Rama Pandey, a Radio Journalist, Producer & Director, remarked, “Words possess the extraordinary ability to unite people and foster relationships, with radio facilitating this intricate interplay.”

Ms. Ritu Rajput, Former Head of Programming at All India Radio, added, “Radio holds the power to touch hearts through words that resonate with the soul and minds of individuals.”

The session ‘Diversity of Sound’ showcased the rich tapestry of Indian culture, featuring popular RJs from Kashmir, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Delhi. RJ Nasir from Kashmir emphasized the importance of evolving with changing trends in music, dialogue, and conversations, stating, “Staying updated with current trends and topics enables a more natural connection with the target audience.”

RJ Vijdan from Radio Mirchi, Kashmir, orchestrated an engaging JAM (Just A Minute) session with Community Radios, concluding the day on a captivating note. The atmosphere buzzed with animated discussions and delightful interactions, leaving a lasting impression and paving the way for a meaningful conclusion. The Radio Festival serves as an unparalleled platform that celebrates audio in all its diverse forms and manifestations.

The event garnered a footfall of over 300 attendees, engaging in thought-provoking panels, discussions, deliberations, and breathtaking performances.