February 13 is World Radio Day recognizing the importance of radio as a media source, providing essential information and analysis. As a public broadcaster, Czech Radio plays a key role in covering the domestic scene (while Radio Prague broadcasts about the Czech Republic abroad).
“The reason UNESCO launched World Radio Day four or five years ago was to promote radio’s importance in times of crisis, the role of breaking news and so on, because radio is immediate: it gives you the information now. What we stress at Czech Radio is that it is a public service providing information which is unbiased, objective and neutral. That is what I think is important within our society within Europe.
“The role of radio, at the same time, can differ: in Africa or Asia, radio is still the primary source of information. I remember listening to a small African radio station on a past World Radio Day and what they were promoting was that radio could tell you where you would find the nearest source of water.”
Obviously radio is a rapidly-changing medium when it is connected or married with the internet. How has the internet changed the broadcaster Czech Radio and what its various stations offer listeners?
“I completely agree that the internet is changing radio but it is important to remember that it is also changing the other media as well: TV, video, and so on. I think that the most significant feature is how people view the information, because the listener or user online is able to multitask much more than ever before.
“When it comes to audio listening, I think that is pushed to either background sound – as in, you turn it on in the morning and you largely listen to music – or it creates a strong listener or fan base attracted to podcasting which means they can download and listen to content they want when they want it. That is the biggest advantage, for example, of podcasting.”
When you add in the social networks, video feeds, and so on, how do they complete this newer emerging package?
“For us, the social networks are a great marketing tool. People search for information based on what their friends or people they follow ‘like’; the social networks are great tools for getting out the word with photos and videos and so on.
“At the same time it is important for us to distinguish that the social networks themselves are not the content providers and I think that the users come from them to the primary source, such as Czech Radio. Facebook and other networks can carry information but are not the producer, and not everything they put out has to be correct or valid. So following the primary source is important.”