Counter-terrorism, the promotion of democracy worldwide, efforts to assist children living in poverty and the threat of bird flu were among the many and varied subjects explored live on the air as an unprecedented gathering of radio hosts from across the United States broadcast from United Nations Headquarters this week in an initiative that brought a first-hand account of how the world body works to millions of listeners across the country.
Radio personalities well-known in various parts of the US, and some national names, set up shop on Thursday in a basement conference room at the United Nations, where dozens of staffers – from senior officials to front-line personnel – answered questions and exchanged views with the hosts.
Blanquita Cullum of the national programme Radio America underscored the power of her shows to raise awareness. Ms. Cullum said she had told Ann Veneman, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), that talk radio could help promote the agency’s activities in Africa, especially in sensitizing US citizens to the challenges faced by a continent ravaged by AIDS.
Echoing this view, Kathy Bushkin, Executive Vice-President of the UN Foundation (UNF), called the event an innovative partnership that focused “not only on the role of the UN in global stories already receiving attention, but also the lesser-known stories about the life-saving work the UN performs everyday, bringing this information directly to American communities.”
“Talk Radio Day at the UN,” held from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., was the result of a partnership between UNF, Talkers Magazine and the Talk Radio News Service, with assistance provided by DPI.
“The opportunity to broadcast from inside UN Headquarters and gain insight about international issues largely ignored by the domestic media will provide a valuable, groundbreaking service to the American listening public,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers Magazine.
“It was clear we were telling them things about the UN that they and their listeners were not used to hearing – and both sides welcomed that,” said Edward Mortimer, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Director of Communications.