Celebrating radio

Feb 16 2019


BROADCASTERS around the world celebrated World Radio Day on Wednesday. In this age of information, the role of radio cannot be understated, as the medium continues to reach the highest number of people in even the most remote locations where the population may not have access to digital and electronic media, or is unable to read newspapers. Low-cost and easy to set up, radio is an effective, pro-poor means of communication, and its function is absolutely vital in healthy democracies. Additionally, in times of disaster management, radio can reach affectees when other means of communication fail. Originally created for wartime purposes, as is the case with many communication technologies, the radio found its way into households in the 1920, and became a popular medium for news and entertainment — long before the arrival of television. Formed only two decades after radio’s advent, Pakistan has had a long and illustrious history with radio programming. It was on June 3, 1947, that the Quaid announced Pakistan’s imminent arrival on All India Radio. On Aug 13, 1947, Zahur Azar broadcast that Pakistan would come into existence “on the stroke of 12, midnight”. The next day, the newly created Radio Pakistan aired its first news bulletin.

In 1972, Radio Pakistan changed its name to the Pakistan Broadcasting Service. Over the years, a long list of legendary presenters, actors and musicians first came to the public’s attention through radio. In 1947, Pakistan inherited three radio stations: Dhaka, Lahore, and Peshawar. Now, according to Pemra, there are 143 FM radio stations across the country, hosting a range of programmes for diverse audiences. Whether it’s the office dweller driving to his or her workplace early in the morning, the solitary security guard trying to stay awake during his late graveyard shift, or the millions of Pakistanis living in underrepresented parts of the country, in villages and small towns away from the eyes of power, radio has a special place in all our lives.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019