The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) yesterday Thursday, 13th February, 2020, joined the rest of the world in observing World Radio Day 2020.
Speaking at the event, President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla aka ‘De Monk’ said the Day celebrates the role of radio in educating people, providing information, and promoting freedom of expression and democratic dialogue across nations.
In Sierra Leone, he went on, radio remains the most pervasive and that the bulk of the population, especially in rural Sierra Leone, depends on radio for information.
Limited technological infrastructure, lack of electricity, expensive data, among other things, the president went on, are real challenges that make radio easily accessible and the cheapest medium of communication for national development.
Moreover, he went on, in this age of growing social media and misinformation, radio has proven to be quite reliable, an avenue for views of ordinary people to be heard and an important platform for democratic dialogue.
He said on this day, “I want to especially throw light on Community Radio Stations and the important role they play in informing and educating remote communities. Sadly, quite recently NATCOM closed down a number of radio stations, including community radios, for failure to pay annual regulation or spectrum fees. While SLAJ is in the process of engaging NATCOM on this, we call on regulators to treat community radios as providing a public service, and not treat them as commercial entities”.
According to the journalists’ president, community radios are a valuable development tool and partner and must be regarded as such. On behalf of SLAJ, he paid tribute to all station managers holding the fort, especially women station managers like Asmaa James, Hawa Tucker, Sarah Rogers, Tiana Alpha, Patricia Ganda, Esther Kanneh Kargbo and Aminata Finda Massaquoi among others who are blazing the trail.
Finally, President Monk recognized the role of the Independent Radio Network (IRN) over the years and welcomed in advance the newly formed Sierra Leone Broadcasters Association.