UNICEF, in with Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), organised a panel discussion on ‘Giving a voice to the voiceless’ in the Capital on August 9, 2010. The discussion highlighted the role of radio and media in the welfare of the society. The figure of the ‘voiceless’ was symbolically that of the child and other downtrodden in the society.
Angela Walker, Chief, Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF, made a presentation on the topic ‘Advocacy’, where she noted that much needed to change in India. She added that any change was hard to achieve without the reliance on radio, which had been the bandwagon of social issues for generations and media was a very strong vehicle for societal change. Addressing various radio operators, she said, “Your (radio) voices are powerful, if you lend us your voice it will help get others on-board in the mission.”
The radio operators where unanimously in support of UNICEF in this noble cause. Replying to a question on the choices radio programmers had to take while giving time slots to such causes, Tapas Sen, Chief Programming Officer, Radio Mirchi, said, “We have never had to make such a choice. We have clearly demarcated the advertisement slots and the show slots. Our RJs have been told to talk about socially relevant topics and societal issues sensitively.”
Assessing the broadcasters’ needs for programming on women and children’s issues, Jaideep Banerjee, National Programing Head, Friends FM, observed, “Everyone in the industry is bothered about the listenership figures, RAM figures, etc., and they are justified in doing so because that is what matters at the end of the day. However, even as you maintain high listenership, it is not too hard to cater to societal needs and join hands for a good cause. The 10-12 slot of Friends FM is the most heard slot. In this slot, we have Rupa Ganguly discussing social problems with the callers and the show has got amazing response. The best thing is when people get back to her and thank her for her advice.”
Walker said, “We are not going to change the world overnight, but by offering something concrete, we can definitely create an impact. Radio will have to find innovative means to mitigate information as we are catering to a demographically diverse population.”
Sonia Sarkar, Communication Officer, UNICEF, said that they might contemplate picking a monthly theme, information of which would be given to all radio operators. All radio operators will then unanimously carry on a campaign on that theme for a month. The radio operators then discussed the various ideas where they integrated socially relevant issues and UNICEF’s values in their programmes.