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Sunderland academic’s research making waves on World Radio Day

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Published on 12 February 2020

World Radio Day
World Radio Day

Nine years ago – 13 February - was proclaimed World Radio Day by member states of UNESCO, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to improve international co-operation among radio broadcasters and encourage decision-makers to create and provide access to information through radio. This year’s theme is around "Radio and Diversity”, calling on radio stations to uphold diversity, both in their stations and on the airwaves.

Dr Caroline Mitchell, Associate Professor in Radio and Participation in the Faculty Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland, who lectures on Sunderland’s well established Radio MA was one of the team who helped develop Radio.Garden as part of the HERA-funded European collaborative research project Transnational Radio Encounters (TRE).

Unesco will be promoting  Radio.Garden as part of its annual event that reaches out to the widest audience, helping to shape a society’s experience of diversity as well as stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard.

Dr Mitchell said: “We are delighted to be part of World Radio Day again this year. My research is about transnational women’s radio cultures and community radio and Radio.Garden has been a fantastic way of engaging people all over the world. At our community station Spark we will be promoting World Radio Day all day on 13 February. We will use Radio.Garden live on air to listen into world radio. This year we will be connecting live with other community broadcasters, including our partner Humber University in Toronto, Canada who are discussing diversity as part of their radio classes.

She added: “We couldn't have predicted how popular this site would become, it still has millions of users every day even though it was launched in 2016. Our funders HERA have described the project as "one of the most successful humanities public engagement activities ever carried out".

Radio.Garden has won many awards for Jonathan Puckey of Studio.Puckey who designed it in collaboration with Moniker who now runs the site. The Transnational Radio Encounters research project was directed by Professor Golo Föllmer from the University of Halle (Germany) alongside Dr Mitchell, Alec Badenoch and Sonja de Leeuw from Utrecht University, Jacob Kreutzfeld of Copenhagen University, Peter Lewis from London Metropolitan University and Per Jauert of Aarhus University, and in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

In addition, it forms part of The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s celebrations of 100 years of Radio in 1919 (see https://beeldengeluid.atavist.com/radio-without-borders), next to current TRE-related research.

Dr Mitchell said: “One of the main themes that emerged is how community radio stations all over the world are supporting both migrants and refugees to feel 'at home' on the radio. In Sunderland for instance Spark FM broadcast a series of programmes made by and for Farsi speakers and 'Global Sunderland' made by refugees who are settling in the city.”

Proclaimed in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day, 13 February became World Radio Day (WRD).

On World Radio Day 2020 (WRD 2020), UNESCO calls on radio stations to uphold diversity, both in their newsroom and on the airwaves.

This edition of WRD is divided into three main sub-themes:

-        Advocating for pluralism in radio, including a mix of public, private and community broadcasters;

-        Encouraging representation in the newsroom, with teams comprised of diverse society groups;

-        Promoting a diversity of editorial content and programme types reflecting the variety of the audiences.

 About Radio.Garden

Four different layers of the interactive globe allow listeners to dive into Radio.Garden’s border-crossing: you can explore a world or radio as it is happening right now. Tune into any place on the globe: what sounds familiar? What sounds foreign? Where would you like to travel and what sounds like ‘home’?

Following its formal launch, the site, designed by Studio.Puckey in collaboration with Moniker, received approximately half a million visitors in its first day, 35,000 up-votes on reddit.

Viral: Launched 12 December 2016 7.5 million views in one week, six million unique users worldwide

Webby award 2017 for Studio Puckey : “Best streaming audio”

FIAT/IFTA award 2017: “Best use of the archive”

Studio Puckey adds Android and iOS apps (1 million downloads - plus over 100 fake apps removed)

Access 87% mobile, 11% desktop, 2% tablet

May 2018 4 million users

 About HERA

Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) is a network of national funding agencies and the European Science Foundation (ESF) committed to leading and developing funding opportunities for humanities researchers in Europe, and sharing excellence in research management practices and outcomes.

HERA is dedicated to:

-        the coordination of national research policies;

-        the establishment of new Joint Research Programmes (JRPs);

-        defining methods for evaluating the impact of humanities research;

-        playing a pro-active role in promoting humanities on the European platform;

-        functioning as a broker for multilateral funding arrangements.

In conjunction with the European Commission it has invested €34 million Euros in 37 Joint Research Projects, nearly all of which involve UK researchers.


Please contact: Helen Franks 0191 515 3276, Craig Thompson 0191 515 2858 or Jane Peverley 0191 515 3219 or email pressoffice@sunderland.ac.uk

Image attached:Dr Caroline Mitchell, Associate Professor in Radio and Participation in the Faculty Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland


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