Tag Archives: Why Radio

Radio Waves: Navajo Nation Airwaves, Yamata Transmitting Station at 80, ARRL & Maglite, FCC Proposed Revisions, and Why So Many Plugs?

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Aaron Kuhn, Ron Chester, Ronnie Smith, Dan Van Hoy, and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


The Airwaves of Navajo Nation (The Verge)

KTNN radio station’s headquarters in St. Michaels, Arizona is less than ten minutes away from the Navajo Nation capital of Window Rock, but its reach encompasses all 27,000 square miles of the Nation across four different states. The station has been broadcasting bilingual content in both the Navajo language, Diné Bizaad, and English for over 35 years. But the station is quiet nowadays — many staff members are working from home if they can. That includes Dee Dixon who, after 15 years at KTNN, had to install internet access to her home an hour and a half away in Dilkon, Arizona so she could broadcast her 6AM show.

Her regular listeners are scattered. During the day, KTNN covers the majority of the Navajo Nation across New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. One can also tune into KTNN’s programming online via livestream from anywhere in the world. It is not the region’s only media. A few regional newspapers cover the reservation extensively, and Navajo Nation is also the only tribe in the country that owns, funds, and operates its own television station. But none of these mediums produce stories primarily in Diné Bizaad: radio is the only way to hear the language in local media.

When the COVID-19 pandemic bore down on Navajo Nation in early 2020, Dixon noticed a distinct divide between her regular listeners at home on the reservation and those outside of it. As Dixon worked on translating public health announcements and taking calls on the air, she noticed an uptick in listeners tuning in from Florida, Maine, Alaska, Louisiana, and Montana. Those callers away from home were hungry for local updates to know what was going on within the Nation — an ambiguous virus that no one understood thoroughly just yet was spreading. People wanted to know if their families were safe and just how transmission was occurring in a place where households are far flung across vast swaths of desert. But Dixon realized as her local listeners, specifically elders, called in that they wanted something different from her: they did not want to hear about the virus whatsoever, no matter how high the rates of infection in Navajo Nation were.

“According to Navajo tradition, you’re not supposed to give a name to anything that is not good for the reservation,” Dixon says. “The virus was like a monster. Traditionally, the more you talk about something like that, the more you’re inviting it into your home.”

Navajo Nation is the second-largest Indigenous tribe in the country with about 300,000 enrolled members, over half of whom live on the reservation. Much of the land is rugged and rural. Of those on the reservation, about 27 percent of households do not have electricity. Cellphone service can be spotty to nonexistent.

But transistor and car radios do not require electricity to function. Radio waves are not dependent on cell towers. In fact, KTNN was the last station in the country licensed for a clear-channel radio signal at 50,000 watts — a strength used in the early 1900s to provide rural America with radio that wouldn’t be vulnerable to interference.[]

Japan’s only shortwave station still in business after 80 years (The Asahi Shimbun)

KOGA, Ibaraki Prefecture–Standing tall and proud over an area of 1 million square meters or so, a forest of steel towers in two-tone red and white is the dominant feature under the blue sky against the backdrop of Mount Tsukubasan.

This is KDDI Corp.’s Yamata Transmitting Station, the nation’s only facility broadcasting shortwave radio programs to overseas listeners.

The station started broadcasts on Jan. 1, 1941. The main building still retains a prewar ambience.

Shortwave radios were the primary means for people across the world to receive audio content from Japan without a large-scale facility before satellites and submarine cables came into existence.

The 1945 announcement of Japan’s surrender by Emperor Hirohito was transmitted from here to military personnel on overseas battlefronts.

When it was completed in 1940, Yamata, now part of Koga, was a typical farming village with a population of 4,536, of whom 90 percent were farmers, according to a 1941 local history pamphlet.

“A large area of flatland was available, and it was less prone to damage from snow and typhoons,” said Kazuhiro Matsui, 50, a senior official in charge of infrastructure, who served as a guide when the station was shown to media representatives in April. “I think it was the only place fit for the station in the country.”

The steel towers are arranged in such a way that 18 transmission antennas cover 360 degrees to send broadcasts as far north as Boston and London and as far west as Seoul and Nairobi.[]

ARRL Announces Partnership with Maglite (ARRL News)

ARRL  The National Association for Amateur Radio® and Mag Instrument, the US manufacturer of the MAGLITE® Flashlight have announced they have formed a partnership based on common interests in equipping people to be prepared for emergencies and to serve their communities in extreme situations such as natural disasters. ARRL members expand the reservoir of trained operators and technicians in radio communications and radio technology, and provide public service through the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®). Maglite is the leading maker of U.S.-manufactured high-quality flashlights that have a deserved reputation for toughness and durability.

“Amateur radio operators, or ‘hams,’ help people in times of difficulty, often by supporting emergency communications when critical infrastructure is damaged, and by aiding first responders’ need to keep connected,” said Anthony Maglica, Founder, Owner and CEO of MAG Instrument Inc. “We manufacture a product that has been used in public safety for over 40 years, and we are very supportive of the incredible dedication of radio amateurs, so culturally this is a great alliance for both brands.”

“ARRL is delighted that Maglite recognizes the service and skill of ARRL members. This partnership will help us introduce amateur radio to more people,” said David Minster, NA2AA, ARRL CEO. Mag Instrument is creating a special laser-engraved Maglite® product collection for ARRL, as well as offering their members special pricing on a select line of Maglite gear. In turn, those purchases raise funds to support ARRL’s mission. Members can find details at www.arrl.org/benefits and by clicking “Member Discounts” in the left-hand navigation on that page.

Maglite is also promoting a special giveaway in recognition of 2021 ARRL Field Day (no purchase is necessary). Visit Maglite on the web for entry details and Terms and Conditions at https://maglite.com/pages/the-maglite-arrl-2021-field-day-giveaway.

ARRL, headquartered in Newington, Connecticut, counts the majority of active radio amateurs in the US among its ranks. Since its founding in 1914, ARRL and its members have advanced the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.

For more information about ARRL visit www.arrl.org.

FCC Report 6/27: FCC Proposes Revisions To Seven Technical Rules (Radio Insight)

At the FCC’s upcoming July Open Meeting scheduled for July 13, Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has proposed voting on seven rule changes to eliminate those that are “redundant, outdated or in conflict” with other rules.

The seven changes are described as:

1. Eliminate the maximum rated transmitter power limit rule for AM stations set out in section 73.1665(b)[…]

2. Update the NCE FM community of license coverage requirement set out in sections73.316(c)(2)(ix)(B) and 73.1690(c)(8)(i) to match that used in section 73.515;

3. Eliminate the requirement that applicants demonstrate the effect of any FM applicant transmitting antenna on nearby FM or TV broadcast antennas set out in section 73.316(d);

4. Update the signal strength contour overlap requirements for NCE FM Class D stations set out in section 73.509(b) to harmonize with the contour overlap requirements for all other NCE FM stations, set out in section 73.509(a);

5. Eliminate the requirement for broadcast services to protect grandfathered common carrier services inAlaska operating in the 76-100 MHz frequency band set out in sections 73.501(b), 74.1202(b)(3), the secondsentence of 74.702(a)(1), and the second sentence of 74.786(b) given that there are no longer such commoncarrier services;

6. Amend the definition of an “AM fill-in area” set out in section 74.1201(j) to conform to section74.1201(g);

7. Amend the allocation and power limitations for broadcast stations within 320 kilometers of the Mexican and Canadian borders, set out in sections 73.207(b) and 74.1235(d), to comply with current treaty provision

[Read the full article with details about each proposed change at Radio Insight.]

Why Does the World Harbor So Many Different Voltages, Plugs, and Sockets? (IEEE Spectrum)

Blame it on the varied evolutionary history of electric power grids and the products that have grown up alongside them

Standardization makes life easier, but it is often impossible to introduce it to systems that have a messy evolutionary history. Electricity supply is a case in point.

Edison’s pioneering 1882 Pearl Street station transmitted direct current at 110 volts, and the same voltage was used when alternating current at 60 hertz took over in American homes. Later the standard was raised a bit to 120 V , and in order to accommodate heavy-duty appliances and electric heating, North American homes can also access 240 V. In contrast, in 1899 Berliner Elektrizitäts-Werke was the first European utility to switch to 220 V and this led eventually to the continent-wide norm of 230 V.

Japan has the lowest voltage (100 V) and the dubious distinction of operating on two frequencies. This, too, is a legacy from the earliest days of electrification, when Tokyo’s utility bought German 50-Hz generators and Osaka, 500 kilometers to the east, imported American 60-Hz machines. Eastern Honshu and Hokkaido island operate at 50 Hz. The rest of the country, to the west, is at 60 Hz, and the capacity of four frequency-converter stations allows only a limited exchange between the two systems.

Elsewhere, the world is divided between the minority of countries with voltages centered on 120 V (110–130 V and 60 Hz) and the majority using 230 V (220–240 V and 50 Hz). North and Central America and most countries of South America combine single voltages between 110 and 130 V and the frequency of 60 Hz; exceptions include Argentina and Chile (220/50), Peru (220/60), and Bolivia (230/50). Africa, Asia (aside from Japan), Australia, and Europe work with the higher voltages: 220 V in Russia and Ethiopia; 230V in South Africa; and 240 V in Brunei, Kenya, and Kuwait.[]


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Burmese activists use FM pirate radio to propagate anti-coup messages

(Source: Rest Of World via Tom Daly)

Young Burmese activists are broadcasting anti-coup messages on pirate radio

“This is revolution radio.”

In a safehouse in Yangon last Thursday morning, a small group of 20-somethings gathered to assemble a portable radio transmitter. For several hours, they broadcast translations of international news into Burmese—tributes to protesters killed by the armed forces, revolutionary songs and poems, and interviews with the leaders of Myanmar’s civil disobedience movement that has sprung up to oppose the military junta that seized power in February.

Then, they dismantled the equipment, each person taking a different piece by a different route to another safe location where they store it. Security is tight. They never broadcast from the same place twice, and the group use aliases, even among themselves. This is Federal FM Radio, live on 90.2 MHz.

Its name betrays its politics. Support for a federal Myanmar, one which rejects the state’s majoritarian Bamar identity and strives for true ethnic unity, has surged in the months since the coup. It is a message that does not sit well with the military government, which has responded with violent repression and internet blackouts. But young dissidents like these refuse to be silenced and have turned to old technologies to spread the word.

“This radio was born out of Myanmar’s Spring Revolution,” said one of its founders, who goes by “Mulan.” “This is revolution radio.”

The junta has imposed nightly internet blackouts to disrupt the protest movement, preventing people from organizing and communicating with the outside world. Social media platforms have been blocked, although many people continued to access them through virtual private networks.

However, on April 2, the mobile internet in Myanmar was completely switched off. Fixed-line connections are rare, and the move left millions of people unable to access news or to communicate with one another. In the vacuum, State media has broadcast propaganda that underplays the scale of the crisis, portrays protesters as “terrorists” and foreign agents, and blames the civil disobedience movement for recent violence on the streets.

“Our people need to get information, real information, because the military spread out fake news on their own media,” Mulan said. She and her colleagues were able to source radio equipment from a friend of the movement — they won’t say precisely who, for obvious reasons. The team is entirely made up of young, digital natives, and most of them were working for civil society organizations before the coup. None of them knew how to operate the gear, but they found technicians willing to train them. “So now, we are learning, like, a radio crash course,” Mulan said.[…]

Continue reading the full story at RestOfWorld.org.

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Radio Waves: QSL delays, Radio’s Chance to Matter, Radio Listening Booms, and Experimental Radio News

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Roseanna, the International Radio Report, Bennett, and Eric McFadden for the following tips:


QSL news for March 2020: Radio Taiwan International and Radio Slovakia International (The Girl with the Radio)

I have some news, first from Radio Taiwan International:
Due to COVID-19, RTI has decided to suspend posting QSL cards to the countries listed in the image [attached].

If you live in any of these countries I would advise you to expect significant delays in receiving a physical QSL card from RTI.

Secondly, Radio Slovakia International have announced on their show that they currently don’t expect to be able to have QSL cards made and/or sent out in a timely manner for quite some time, again due to COVID-19.[]

Radio, Don’t Blow Your Chance to Matter Again (Guest Column — Variety)

Radio, I’ve just about had enough of you and your abandonment of your defining purpose as broadcasters. With the coronavirus pandemic now ravaging everyday life and suspending every reliable comfort from work routines to sports and entertainment or actual human contact, we’re looking for steadiness somewhere — an echo of the familiar, a kindred connection. Anything to tether us to something recognizable. A service the radio dial used to provide — and public radio still does.

Corporate radio is missing its biggest opportunity in a generation right at this moment.

Based on the events of the last few days in Los Angeles, market No. 2 with a 60-plus year history of rich and vibrant local broadcasting excellence, it appears there is little wisdom or vision left. Case in point: the vast audience disconnect in Entercom’s abrupt and confusing decision at KROQ-FM to fire morning show personality Kevin Ryder on Wednesday, someone who is a heritage voice in L.A. with a long local history as half of the “Kevin & Bean Show,” a well-loved talent who had just launched the freshly-formed team “Kevin in the Morning With Allie & Jensen” this past January (in the wake of longtime partner Gene “Bean” Baxter’s retirement last year). But instead of capitalizing on that position of strength, using this particular anchor as a steady ship for the approaching tidal wave of pandemic upheavals, KROQ chooses to obliterate a main source of humor and comfort from its airwaves right at a moment when the attending audience needs stability more than ever.[]

Coronavirus: Radio listening booms while music streaming stalls (Southgate ARC)

BBC News report that people staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic appear to be listening to more radio rather than music apps, figures suggest.

Global, which owns Capital FM and talk station LBC, said online radio listening had risen by 15%.

The BBC said streaming of its radio stations had risen 18% since last week.

Meanwhile, data from two US analytics companies suggested use of music-streaming apps such as Spotify had dipped by about 8%.

“These figures indicate that the public are turning to radio in times of crisis,” a Global spokeswoman said.

BBC Radio and Education director James Purnell said: “People turn to us during significant events for our news and analysis but also for music, entertainment and companionship.

Article continues here:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-52037461

Experimental Radio News 2

Experimental Radio licenses from the files of the Federal Communications Commission

On February 24, 2020, Lynk’s experimental satellite licensed as WQ9XDP was received on an unmodified mobile phone in the Falklands. The test apparently was in “cell broadcast” mode — as in Wireless Emergency Alerts and Amber Alerts — and not an individualized call to a specific handset. (The video below contains an expletive.)

[…]WJ2XUG was issued to PointView Tech, reportedly a unit of Facebook, for the Athena satellite project in the 70 and 80 GHz bands. At this writing, the public record for this experiment was incomplete as the FCC had asked PointView for additional ground station information.

[…]Viziv Technologies, licensee of WJ2XGB, a giant experimental station in Texas, has proposed additional uses for its technology beyond wireless power transmission.

[…]Another wireless power venture is Guru Wireless, which was issued WK2XRN for tests at 10, 24 and 62 GHz. “Radio wave energy is generated in the GU [generating unit], and then it is refracted and channeled into highly focused beams, which reach and power your devices,” according to the Guru website.

[…]Rohde & Schwarz USA was issued WP9XZP for Special Temporary Authority in association with Microsoft, which is evaluating security scanners apparently for its own use. The Rohde & Schwartz product is a “millimeter wave security scanner that automatically detects potentially dangerous items carried on the body or in clothing. It consists of a flat panel with 3,008 transmitter/receiver pairs that emit extremely low-power millimeter waves in very short succession,” the company said.[…]

These are clippings from Experimental Radio News–click here to read the full items.


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Guest Post: “Radio. Now is your time to shine.”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Fred Waterer, who shares this message from his friend, Jarrad Brooke:


Radio. Now is your time to shine.

As more and more mass gatherings are cancelled and outdoor entertainment is cancelled – more and more people will turn to other forms of media for entertainment. Netflix and streaming are the obvious choices – but I believe even Free to Air TV and yes -radio will get a free kick as well.

I’m not talking about those in isolation or quarantine – as that is obviously an extremely small portion (or hopefully!) a small portion of our potential audience. I’m talking just the general population who feel they need somewhere to go, tune out, escape and be entertained… seeing as they have no where in groups outdoors to do it anymore.

Radio – now more than ever, needs to make sure they use this free kick of audience to their advantage to make sure they become loyal and stay. Everything that goes to air right now needs to be to the highest quality – every song, announcer break, commercial and element needs to fit now more than ever.

Radio did such a great job in the bush fire emergency. Now build on that and maximise it even more. You never know, you could be a listeners emergency today in needing them needing an escape from reality for a while.

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RadioInfo: “Fires hit ABC Radio’s Batemans Bay transmitter”

Photo by Benjamin Lizardo

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Bird, who shares the following story from RadioInfo.com.au:

In an example of radio industry cooperation during adversity, commercial network Grant Broadcasters is working with the ABC on the South Coast of NSW to keep transmissions on air during the fires in that area.

As fires raged through the area last week, the ABC’s Mt Wandera transmission site at Bateman’s Bay was disabled by flames (see pictures below) and is expected to take some time to repair.

The ABC, through its transmission provider Broadcast Australia (recently renamed BAI Communications) asked if it could share Grant Broadcasters’ nearby transmission mast and infrastructure, and has now combined its transmissions onto the Grant Broadcasters antenna.

Local radio services, including ABC South Coast, are now back on air, but operating at reduced power. The ABC’s television transmitter on the site is also off air.

BAI has also established additional temporary low power facilities at Batemans Hill for ABC Local Radio (operating on 101.9 MHz) and ABC television (operating on Channel 41).  As this facility operates from a lower altitude and at lower power than those at Mt Wandera, its coverage will be largely limited within the town of Batemans Bay.

On the South Coast, the Grant Broadcasters stations 2EC and Power FM  had “no issues with transmission coverage” and have so far remained on full power. Diesel generators have 4-5 days capacity and are being refuelled continuously.

[…]Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has commended media and transmission providers for their efforts to keep services operating:

“I commend the network operators’ efforts in responding, which has included deploying temporary facilities to restore communications services for impacted communities, particularly those that are isolated. Many of the outages are due to power supplies being cut off, and in some cases are the direct impact of fire on network infrastructure. The current fire situations across Australia have made access difficult and unsafe at some sites to assess and restore services…

“In many cases, a portable transistor radio with a spare set of batteries is a vital way to receive emergency information, in the event there is a loss of mains power or mobile coverage.

“The ABC and other local radio stations are doing an excellent job transmitting vital emergency information to Australian communities. Telstra and Optus are offering targeted relief packages in affected regions in NSW and Victoria, including free use of payphones, call diversions from affected lines and other financial assistance.”[…]

Read the full article and view photos at RadioInfo.com.au.

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Radio Taboo: An amazing community radio station in rural Cameroon

Radio Taboo (Source: Issa Nyaphaga)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan Roe, who shares this Radio France International article and interview with Issa Nyaphaga, the tour de force behind Radio Taboo.

Here’s a video of the interview:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Alan.

Some of our initial radios received by Radio Taboo.

Readers: what Alan didn’t know is that I’ve been working with Issa via Ears To Our World and can confirm that this station is having a most positive impact on its community!

I was originally introduced to Issa via one of ETOW’s long-time supporters and friends a couple years ago.

At ETOW, we wanted to help establish more Radio Taboo listener groups, so we sent an initial batch of radios to be used in this very rural and remote part of Cameroon.

The radio we sent to Radio Taboo is the Tecsun GR-88 (or “Green-88”). This radio used to be branded by Grundig as the FR200, but Grundig no longer markets this model so we purchase them from Tecsun.

In fact, in a recent email to friends and supporters of Radio Taboo, Issa shared the following photo and noted:

“This man next to me is one of the first beneficiaries of the crank radios donated by Thomas Witherspoon, the founder of “Ears To Our World” a U.S. non-profit. They donated a dozen of these radios to some Radio Taboo’s listers. Radios made it in the Cameroon this week.”

I should mention it’s a logistical challenge to get radios to this part of the world (especially in the summer when the roads are nearly impassable due to rains) but we’re looking into a service that might be able to help in the future with a much larger donation of radios.

Alan, thanks again for sharing this story and giving me an opportunity to tell about our first-hand experience working with Radio Taboo!

Check out the full article about Radio Taboo at Radio France International by clicking here.

Click here to check out the Radio Taboo website.

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United Nations: Radio still a powerful worldwide tool for ‘dialogue, tolerance and peace’

Post-earthquake, Ears To Our World radios continue to be a vital link for those in need in Haiti. Here, Erlande, who suffered a stroke in her early 30s and can barely walk, listens to one of our self-powered Etón radios. (Photo: ETOW)

(Source: United Nations News via Mike Hansgen)

“Even in today’s world of digital communications, radio reaches more people than any other media platform” explained the UN chief, adding that it “conveys vital information and raises awareness on important issues”.

“And it is a personal, interactive platform where people can air their views, concerns, and grievances” he added, noting that radio “can create a community”.

UN Radio was established on 13 February 1946, and since 2013, the day has been commemorated to recognize radio as a powerful communication tool and a low-cost medium.

“For the United Nations, especially our peacekeeping operations, radio is a vital way of informing, reuniting and empowering people affected by war”, said Mr. Guterres.

Despite the rise of the internet, many parts of the world, especially remote and vulnerable communities, have no access, making radio broadcasting via transmitters, a vital lifeline. Joining a community of local listeners, also provides a platform for public discussion, irrespective of education levels.

Moreover, it has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief.

“On this World Radio Day, let us recognize the power of radio to promote dialogue, tolerance and peace”, concluded the Secretary-General.

Radio still sparking ‘new conversations’

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) underscored “the unique, far-reaching power of radio to broaden our horizons and build more harmonious societies”.

“Radio stations from major international networks to community broadcasters today remember the importance of radio in stimulating public debate, increasing civic engagement and inspiring mutual understanding”, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in her message.

Since its invention as the first wireless communication medium well over a hundred years ago, “radio has sparked new conversations and broadcast new ideas into people’s homes, villages, universities, hospitals and workplaces,” she continued. “To this day, dialogue across the airwaves can offer an antidote to the negativity that sometimes seem to predominate online, which is why UNESCO works across the world to improve the plurality and diversity of radio stations”.

The UNESCO chief pointed out that radio has adapted to 21st century changes and offers new ways to participate in conversations that matter, retaining its role as “one of the most reactive, engaging media there is”, especially for the most disadvantaged.

For example, she flagged that rural women constitute one of the most under-represented groups in the media and are twice as likely as men to be illiterate, “so radio can be a critical lifeline to express themselves and access information”.

Ms. Azoulay made clear that “UNESCO provides support to radio stations in sub-Saharan Africa that enable women to participate in public debate, including on often-neglected issues such as forced marriage, girls’ education or childcare”.

Linguistic diversity, and people’s right to express themselves on-air in their own languages, is also crucial – especially true in 2019 which has been designated by the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the UN.“In former conflict zones, radio can dispel fear and present the human face of former foes”, she elaborated, citing North-West Colombia where community radios are healing old wounds “by highlighting the good deeds of demobilized combatants, such as clearing polluted waterways”.

Around the world, the “inclusion of diverse populations makes societies more resilient, more open and more peaceful”, Ms. Azoulay spelled out.

“The challenges we face – whether they be climate change, conflict or the rise in divisive views – increasingly depend on our ability to speak to each other and find common solutions”, she concluded.

Click here to read this article at the UN News website.

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