After 110 years since the invention of the radio and 10 years after the proclamation of the World Radio Day (WRD) by the member states of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) identifies the crucial role radio has played and continues to play in investigative journalism on the occasion of World Radio Day 2021 (WRD 2021) with the theme New World, New Radio. Held on February 13 of every year since 2012, World Radio Day is celebrated to raise awareness on the uniqueness and importance of the radio and to also enhance communication among broadcasters and its listeners. It is also celebrated to encourage decision-makers to establish and provide access to information through radio.
The sub-themes for WRD 2021 namely evolution, innovation and connection speak to the resilience, adaptability and binding features the radio has lived through for over a century as a tool to educate, and inform audiences during pandemics, natural disasters to socio-economic crisis, epidemics and so on. Nigeria since the establishment of the first radio station in Nigeria in 1939, the medium as experienced quantum evolution. All the 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja have at least two terrestrial or online radio stations with states like Lagos having 41 radio stations, Oyo 32, Abuja 29, Kaduna 27, Anambra and Ogun 25.
Globally, radio remains the most widely consumed medium and there is currently no media channel that is as accessible and far-reaching as the radio. Radio is a powerful and dynamic broadcast medium that transits across diverse language barriers for more than 110 years of its existence. Through its broad audience reach, it has bridged and improved the communication gap between urban and rural areas and generally between people across the world. Radio is uniquely positioned to create room for interactions and promotes positive dialogue for change. Over the years, radio, through its dynamic nature has continued to evolve and adapt to new technologies and societal changes with the power to inform and transform people through information, entertainment, and audience participation.
WSCIJ through its programmes and initiatives has constantly addressed issues on health, women’s right, human right violation, regulatory failures, corruption, and marginalised groups, using radio as an investigative journalism tool to engage and proffer solutions to the developmental needs. For instance, WSCIJ’s COVID-19 Reality Check Project in 2020 implemented fifteen in-depth human-interest stories using radio as a tool for engagement and enlightening on COVID-19. Also, WSCIJ through its Reportwomen! Female Reporters Leadership Programme has used the radio to increase the quality and quantum of reports about women and girls by amplifying the story projects implemented by fellows under the programme. Through the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting (WSAIR), reporters have been rewarded in the radio category for stories that exposed illegal arrests, extra-judicial oppression by state agents, extortion in the prisons and improper conduct of examination leading to massive leakage and examination malpractice in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2018 respectively.
In commemoration of the World Radio Day, WSCIJ joins the rest of the world to raise awareness on the importance of radio as a tool for investigative reporting in Nigeria and remains committed to building the capacity of journalists to use radio as a medium to disseminate developmental messages for change in the society.