Radio for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
A documentation by Dr Hansjoerg Biener
peace radio site
© PD Dr Hansjoerg Biener
created 0107, updated 0704
Comments and contributions are welcome. Material of this page may be re-printed but a complimentary copy of the publication is expected.
UN Radio UN Radio to Africa
schedule for Summer  2007
Mo-Fr French
17.00-17.15: 7170 (Meyerton 100 kW, 76°), 11715 (Meyerton 500 kW, 340°) 
Mo-Fr English
17.30-17.45: 7130 (Meyerton 100 kW, 5°), 15495 (Skelton 300 kW, 110°), 17810 (Ascension 250 kW, 65°) 
Mo-Fr Arabic
18.30-18.45: 15105 (Woofferton 300 kW, 114°), 17560 (Rampisham 500 kW, 168°)  
UTC time  frequencies (stations)

"This is the United Nations calling the peoples of the world."

UN Radio was founded in 1946 to promote the universal ideals of the United Nations. Initially most news bulletins and feature programmes were broadcast via short wave. Lacking its own facilities, UN Radio made arrangements with leading broadcasting organisations to relay its programmes to different regions. In 1946 the International Broadcasting Division of the United States Department of State transmitted the entire proceedings of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council on short wave to the rest of the world. These broadcasts were also relayed, for the most part, by the European Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. News bulletins and feature programmes were broadcast in the Organisation's then five official languages Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish for 9 to 12 hours each day.

In the fifties, sixties and seventies, UN Radio had regular short wave broadcasts of news bulletins in the six official languages and broadcast feeds of news bulletins, news summaries, features and documentary programmes in up to 33 languages.

By 1984, UN Radio was producing a total of 2,000 hours of programmes a year in 25 languages. Its short wave programmes alone accounted for some 759 hours of air time annually. From 1953 to 1985, the Voice of America was the major provider of air time. When the VoA raised the costs above a nominal fee, the UN had to cancel the use of VoA facilities at the end of 1985. Alternative distribution methods were explored and put in place with broadcasters in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. UN Radio programme production and distribution became more dependent on taped programmes as opposed to direct shortwave broadcasting.

Meanwhile, UN Radio has come a long way from the 1946 makeshift studios and offices at the United Nations Headquarters in Lake Success, New York. As the UN membership grew, so did the outreach of UN Radio programmes. United Nations Radio currently distributes its live daily news programme in the six official languages -- Arabic (added in 1974), Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish -- to over 150 partner stations in 75 countries.  United Nations Radio also broadcasts 19 weekly feature programmes in a total of 13 languages to over 1,500 stations worldwide, through the Internet, satellite and shortwave, and reaches a global audience of approximately 200 million people.

In addition to the daily programmes, UN Radio produces about 1200 features and documentaries a year. Topics range from water, the plight of the mentally ill, the lives of women with breast cancer, the struggle for human rights, population and development. In 1997, the special series "The child sex trade" and "A story of war and rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina" won awards in the New York Festival international radio competition.  Feature programmes are mainly distributed by tape and cassette. In April 1997 UN Radio launched ad hoc live international interview  programmes with a high ranking UN official, where journalists from around the world get the chance to put their questions to the guest.

Beside the routine reporting and the production of feature programmes UN Radio has more recently been involved in a number of peace radio stations. The first countries where the UN broadcasting played a role were Namiba and Cambodia. In all these operations, UN Radio provided staff and programme resources, as well as technical support. Field reports, news and feature programmes on peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs have also become a staple product in UN radio programmes.

UN Radio's new recognition in peacekeeping operations may have contributed to an increased awareness for a voice distinct from government voices. On the occasion of the millenium summit UN radio returned to international broadcasting on leased facilities. Building on its past experience, UN Radio restored short wave radio broadcasting to Africa on 4 September 2000.

On 24 June 2004, the United Nations Department of Public Information launched “UN and Africa”, a new weekly radio programme dedicated to Africa and issues relevant to the continent.  The maiden edition featured an exclusive interview with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on crucial issues like the current humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan, and the  challenges of United Nations peacekeeping in Africa.
This new 15-minute English-language programme is edited and presented by Ben Dotsei Malor of United Nations Radio and is available free of charge to broadcasters and listeners.

Using new technologies to reach audiences around the world, UN Radio started using the internet. Plans are under way to enhance programme dissemination by cutting back on tape and using the internet as a fast, cost-effective substitute. UN Radio news bulletins and summaries are already available on the internet.

2005 UN launches free radio news service for United States market
On 1 November 2005 United Nations Radio launched UN Radio News/USA, a new source of audio feeds for radio broadcasters about the world body and issues affecting people in the United States. Susan Farkas, Chief of the Department of Public Information's Radio and Television Service, called the initiative a "one-stop shop" for US broadcasters. "They have quick and easy access to news that affects all Americans," she added. Through the service, broadcasters can browse a selection of actualities as well as complete, unedited audio of the day's meetings, speeches, news conferences and media stakeouts, making it possible for stations to cover the UN as never before. Spanish news and special reports will also be posted.
This newest effort to reach critical audiences for the work of the UN is available free to all stations through the internet. At, UN Radio News/USA offers broadcasters several short bulletins each day on news and events at the United Nations, as well as longer features on UN issues with an American angle. These segments are designed to fit into local newscasts or to stand alone as international and current affairs programming.
UN Radio News/USA is produced by Jerry Piasecki, a Michigan-born award-winning radio reporter with extensive experience in broadcast journalism, marketing and international organizations.
For more information on UN Radio News/USA, please contact Ms. Takako Nagumo, UN Radio Promotion and Distribution, at (917) 367-5007 or nagumo @ UN Radio News/USA is supported by the United Nations Foundation. The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations’ causes. The UN Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the UN. Through its grant making and by building public-private partnerships, the UN Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. (

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