The radio as a window on the world

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Irmgard Pinn, sociology researcher and academician at Bonn University, Germany


Abstract: After the radio was invented at the beginning of the 20th century, it emerged to a mass medium within a few decades. From the beginning it served on two counts as a „window on the world“: For one thing news and entertainment programs from far away countries and continents now could be directly received. For another thing the radio made it possible to broadcast in the reverse direction and by this means allowed states as well as ethnic, religious and political groups to broadcast their cultural and political self-presentation across borders and oceans.

For this purpose more and more contries established special radio transmitters to broadcast programs in different languages by shortwave. This was in Germany the „Deutsche Welle“ (founded in 1924) and in Iran the forerunner of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) which started to broadcast in foreign languages in 1956.

In the 1960s television started its triumphal march all over the world. It became a strong rival to the radio, but because of the limited coverage of the TV broadcasters the radio short-wave transmitters were not so much challenged. But since the turn of the millennium they got in desperate straits by the upcoming internet. Since then many of them had to shorten or even to withdraw the service. This process of shortening and restructuring hasn't been finished yet. Does this mean that the radio as a window on the world has lost its function?

In my lecture I ask about the chances of survival of the radio as a window on the world. In which aspects is it outdated and inferior to the internet? Where are its potencies and chances? What has to be done to face the challenges successfully? In short some of my purposes are: More attention to the customs and expectations of the listeners (intercultural competence), turning away from broadcasting formats which better can be done by other media (internet news etc.), increasing level of journalism, brisk pace and more original atmosphere in reports and interwievs and – most of all – more openess for debates and (self-) criticism.

About Us

The International Radio Forum is an opportunity for interchanging views and thoughts among Radio operators and authorities from different countries. It is an opportunity which can lead to the growth and prosperity of the views and thoughts in the unique field of Radio. The Radio of the Islamic Republic of Iran has held five rounds of the International Radio Forum, with the following objectives and missions:


  1. Maintaining and improving the position of Radio in the media sector
  2. Creating a consistent community of scholars for Radio's future development
  3. Raising the role of the Radio in the age of the Globalization
  4. Strengthening the Radio's scientific basis


  1. Identifying the potential capabilities of the Radio as a media
  2. Establishing the interaction among Radio scholars and other researchers
  3. Interchanging thoughts and scientific notions among the contributors
  4. Congratulating new plans and ideas in the field of the Radio
  5. Create the necessary motivation for the agents in the field of Radio programming
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