Radio.Garden an online platform and app where listeners can access thousands of radio stations live from their phone or desktop, will feature as part of UNESCO’s World Radio Day 2020.

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.”