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(RADIO'S STORY) The World-Changing Power Of Radio

9-16-2013

I have never understood why, when we talk about radio, we rarely mention the changes in the world affected by the use of radio? Whether it be the Berlin Wall, Apartheid, Communism, Cuba, or a myriad of other world changing events, it was radio that made the difference. We know that the world is a different place today because of the Internet and television, but we may forget about the great changes due to the use of radio.

In the early 1980s, when I worked for McCann Erickson, I was asked to host a group of dignitaries from South Africa who wanted to study commercial radio in America. I was asked to arrange meetings with representatives from a cosmopolitan radio station, a rural radio station, and a political radio station. In the early 80s there were no political stations, only talk radio; and at that time Americans werent quite as angry as they have been recently.

I was torn emotionally by this request, as I was not a supporter of Apartheid and was not inclined to help people who promoted a political agenda to which I was deeply opposed. But, as a professional we are not given the choice of imposing our own views on the work we are asked to perform. I sat uncharacteristically still in the meetings, and never spoke or did anything except make the introductions and thanked everyone for their time.

As I listened to these men speak, it became apparent what their mission was. Radio was playing havoc with Apartheid and was changing a world thousands of miles away for the better.

Radio stations were popping up all over the borders of South Africa, radio stations that were sending messages to the people, messages that said you can be free, you dont have to be in a corral at 8 at night, and you have rights. I listened intently as I heard these men describe the competitive position their state-run radio stations were facing for the first time in their recent history. They came to America to learn how to run their radio stations in a competitive environment. I was listening to history in the making, our world was changing and it was changing for the better; and it was all because of radio. Radio, a simple piece of equipment to build, a piece of equipment so many in our industry built as teenagers in order to play "disc jockey" and play rock and roll music. But, this piece of equipment, the radio, was making the difference in peoples lives and changing the world in front of my eyes.

So, why dont we tell this story when we talk about radio? Why dont we tell the world Radio makes a difference? Why dont we show the advertisers the effect radio has on the listener? We need to tell the story of Apartheid, Communism, the Berlin Wall, and the important world-changing events that were implemented, affected, or altered significantly by radio and radios ability to put communication in the hands of the common man.

I am proud to be in the business of radio, it makes a difference and in a good way. Lets start telling the true story people need to hear, the world is a better place because of radio.

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at Lisa@millerbroadcast.com or 312-454-1111.




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