National Radio Day and the Birth of RRI, Radio’s Journey from the Beginning of Independence to the Digital Age

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1NEWS – Every year, September 11 is celebrated as National Radio Day as well as the Birthday of Radio Republic of Indonesia (RRI). Then, what kind of radio journey from time to time?

It is undeniable that the trend of radio listeners is decreasing, which is triggered by the spread of digital technology. Now, various digital entertainment platforms can be easily accessed through smartphones. Radio began to lose its prestige.

Actually radio stations began to adapt to advances in information technology. Some develop applications that can be installed on smartphones and expand services by logging into Podcasts or the like.

However, the number of pure listeners of radio broadcasts has indeed started to decline in the last decade.

According to the survey of socio-cultural indicators of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BSI), people aged 10 years and over who listened to the radio in the past week were only 13.31% in 2018. This figure fell sharply from 50.29% in 2003.

In 2020, the trend has increased again due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Another survey stated that the number of listeners in 2020 increased by 31% from 2019.

This increase is not comparable to the prestige of radio in the past. Even at the beginning of independence, radio was the prima donna of communication between the government and the people.

Radio at the beginning of independence

As mentioned earlier, September 11 was the starting point when Indonesia finally had its own radio station. It all started on August 19, 1945, when this nation was only a few days old.

Japan’s defeat resulted in Hoso Kyoku’s radio broadcasts being suspended from that day on. Of course, this is bad news for the people of Indonesia because it means that people no longer have a source of information that is really needed at this critical time.

The newly independent Indonesian people are blind to a variety of information. In fact, in this crisis, news emerged over the radio that the British would come to disarm the Japanese.

Under the pretext of “maintaining security”, the British would occupy Java and Sumatra until the Dutch were able to regain their grip on power in Indonesia, which was still very fragile.

It is also known from the news that the allies still recognize Dutch sovereignty over Indonesia and the Dutch kingdom is rumored to be setting up a government called the Netherlands Indie Civil Administration (NICA).

This made people who were active on radio during the Japanese colonial period realize that radio was indispensable as a funnel of information and communication for the government of the Republic of Indonesia and the people.

Realizing the importance of radio, eight representatives of the former Hoso Kyoku radio station held an emergency meeting on September 11, 1945 at 17.00 at the Raad Van Indje Pejambon building.

They were Abdulrahman Saleh, Adang Kadarusman, Soehardi, Soetarji Hardjolukita, Soemarmadi, Sudomomarto, Harto, and Maladi. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss various issues related to the establishment of radio.

One of them, they appeal to the government to establish a radio that can be used as a means of communication between the government and the people.

The reason is, at that time radio was the most suitable choice as a communication medium because it was not easily interrupted during battle and managed by a faster community.

For operational capital, the eight radio delegates suggested that the government demand that Japan be able to use the Hoso Kyoku radio studio and transmitters.

In response to this, the secretary of state and ministers actually objected because the equipment at the radio station had been registered as an allied inventory item.

However, the delegates continued with their plans taking into account the risks of war. At the end of the meeting, Abdulrachman Saleh as the head of the delegation made three conclusions.

First, the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia Radio Association which will continue broadcasting from 8 stations in Java. Second, presenting RRI to the President and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia as a means of communication with the people.

Finally, they appealed to all relations between the government and RRI to be channeled through Abdulrachman Saleh. The three conclusions were finally accepted by the Indonesian government and ready to help RRI, even though the government did not agree on several points.

After holding a meeting at the Raad Van Indje Pejambon building, eight representatives of radio stations in Java held a meeting at Adang Kadarusman’s house, still on the same date on September 11, 1945 at 24.00.

The people’s representatives participating in the meeting were Soemarmad and Soedomomarto from Yogyakarta, Soetaryo from Purwokerto, Maladi and Soetardi Hardjolukito from Surakarta, Soehardi and Harto from Semarang, and Darya, Sakti Alamsyah, and Agus Marahsutan from Bandung.

However, representatives of the Surabaya and Malang regions at that time could not participate in the meeting. The decision of the meeting was to establish Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) with Abdulrachman Saleh as the leader. So Abdulrachman Saleh’s name was recorded as the first chairman of RRI.

Writer Mela Putri (Indonesian Female Member One)

Editor Tubagus Guritno

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