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National Association of Broadcasters
Radio’s Integral Role in Fostering Democracy

Radio’s Integral Role in Fostering Democracy

July 26, 2020

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., we remember the impact his words had on millions around the world. Broadcast stations across the country, covered Dr. King’s speeches, most notably, of course, “I Have A Dream,” delivered on August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington. Radio brought Dr. King’s call for racial justice straight to the living rooms of Americans, and the speech became an important turning point in the civil rights movement.

From the time of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fireside chats, to the 2016 presidential election, radio has played an integral role in informing listeners, as well as fostering conversation and important civil discourse.

“Citizens need to hear from their leaders and there is no better way to do that than radio,” says Joel Oxley, senior vice president and general manager at Hubbard’s WTOP-FM.

Both then and now, “local radio fosters a vibrant democracy by giving a truly local voice to issues,” says Oxley. “Radio allows politicians and public figures to access their constituents while they’re leading their lives. Whether in their cars, at home or at work radio gets through to listeners in a foreground, attention-getting way.”

Just as Dr. King’s words reached the masses in 1963, radio continues to be an intrinsic part of the fabric of American life. As free, broadcast radio celebrates its 100th year, we recognize the enduring value and continued importance of a medium that reaches 272 million Americans each week.

Share a moment when radio inspired you using #Radio100 on social and join the conversation.

Listen to a recording of “I Have A Dream” here.

November 2, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast. To celebrate this special anniversary, we’re shining a spotlight on 100 key moments in radio's history.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating your favorite radio memories throughout 2020. Use the hashtag #Radio100 across social media to share these moments with the world. Here’s to 100 wonderful years of radio, and to at least 100 more!

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