Malawi: Kunkuyu Reiterates Importance of Broadcasting Radio Stations
At the commemoration of this year’s World Radio Day, whose theme was Radio & Peace, Minister of Information & Digitalisation, Moses Kunkuyu emphasized that radio stations, especially community ones, have the responsibility and the power to build peaceful communities and a peaceful Nation.
He said this at Youth Net & Counselling (YONECO) Radio Station in Zomba as hosts of this year’s celebration jointly done with Chanco and Mzati community radios.
“The power and influence of radio in shaping up public opinion, promoting sound decision making and preventing or ending conflicts can never be underestimated,” he said. “Commemorating World Radio Day and paying homage to this versatile medium of communication is a great opportunity for Malawi and the rest of the world to ensure that we are making radio stations thrive at all times.
“Commemorating this day offers us all as a Nation time to reflect on and take stock of how the radio is adapting to the ever-changing needs of people it is expected to serve.
“I am glad that I am part of this important day to take a look at how our Radio Stations are faring. Together we need to share ideas and make our radio stations relevant to aspirations of Malawians, and most importantly make our radio stations economically viable.”
He stressed that the theme, Radio & Peace does not mean that Malawi witnessed any armed conflict, which might tempt people to think that this theme resonate with Malawi, saying: “You will agree with me that as a country we have witnessed several incidences of tension among us that have threatened our peace. It is normally these seemingly small incidences of tension that explode into uncontrollable conflicts.
“As a country, we must therefore strive to ensuring that our radio stations are managed professionally to take this huge responsibility of building a peaceful Malawi.”
The Minister also took cognizance that as a nation, “we have enormous expectations from our radio stations and it is important that we support these radio stations to be economically sustainable to deliver on what we expect them”.
“I, therefore, challenge each one of us as policy makers, development partners, regulators, broadcasters, and listeners that we begin to extensively engage to make our radio stations survive economically so that in turn they are able to provide us rich content that will unite us and build a peaceful and prosperous Malawi.
“I urge our radio stations be as ethical and as professional as possible and addresses both the root causes and triggers of conflict before they explode into violence through specific radio programming and editorial choices.
“The Tonse Alliance Government takes great pride in the role radio stations play in the socio-economic development of the country. Government’s vision as far as the broadcast industry is concerned is to give people in remotest areas of the country a voice to participate in the affairs of Government and most importantly to have a voice in all matters that impact their lives.
“As we celebrate World Radio Day today, we should also take time to commend community radio stations for providing their audiences content that is relevant and often overlooked by national commercial radio stations.”
Kunkuyu also underscore the role of radio stations, saying they are at the core of development and empowerment of the masses, “especially those living in remotest and rural areas of our country”.
At the function, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) donated a desktop computer, a printer and two digital audio recorders to each of the host community radios, YONECO, Chanco and Mzati.
Before proceeding with his speech, MACRA board member Dr. Rev. Father Saindiasked all to stand up and observe a minute of silence for those that lost their lives as a result of flash floods due to effects of Cyclone Freddy.
He went on to say the importance of radio needs not be overemphasizes as it speaks volumes on its own, saying the effects of Cyclone Freddy, which left many families homeless, radio was among the leading communication channels that warned or informed the public of any development regarding the impact of the cyclone.
“It is my hope that the media fraternity will embrace this year’s theme of Radio & Peace to live by it to ensure that radio is a haven for peace. This means all programs should have elements of peace throughout.
“Radio brings people of diverse cultures together and promotes their values in the community. Furthermore, radio neutralizes misconceptions and ambiguities and enables people of different literacy levels to understand and articulate issues for the common good of society.
“I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Information for facilitating conducive policies that have enabled radio stations to thrive and work in harmony with each other to provide and disseminate conducive programs for the country and beyond the borders.
“In the early days of radio in Malawi targeted audiences were those within the physical reach but now almost all stations have embraced new media and are online. This is no mean achievement that should be celebrated too.”
This year marks twelve years since World Radio Day was proclaimed, which was set to be celebrated on February 13 but each country is at liberty to choose a convenient day to celebrate it.
Saindi said in Malawi, February lies at the peak of the rainy season, thus it is normally shifted to March.
In her message delivered on February 13, which was read at the function in Zomba by acting deputy executive secretary for Malawi National Commission for UNESCO, David Mulera,
Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, said since it was developed, about a century ago, “radio has proven to be an exceptional means of communication, debate and exchange – indeed, it is one of the most accessible and widespread types of media.
“It is these characteristics which explain why UNESCO has particularly relied on radio throughout the CoVID-19 pandemic, when it has been necessary to reach children and students who were out of school and especially isolated.
“Radio has thus allowed us to establish an effective system of teaching over the airwaves in many countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where less than a quarter of the population has access to the Internet, radio has enabled the continuity of learning despite the difficulties.
“Radio is thus very often the medium of last resort. We are seeing this again in Afghanistan, where girls and women have been suddenly and unfairly denied their right to learn, study and teach.
“In order to respond to this situation, which UNESCO has strongly condemned, our organization has launched, with the European Union, a major programme to support the Afghan media. The objective is to help circulate educational material, as well as material concerning health and safety, and to reach at least six million Afghans directly.
“Aside from being a technical instrument, the radio also provides a space where democratic debate is fostered and enriched. It is therefore essential to safeguard both the independence and the diversity of what is, in many respects, a genuine modern-day agora.
“This is why UNESCO, which has made freedom of the press a priority, supports community and independent radio stations around the world.
“On this day, 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 peace.