Dear World Today listeners,
Ten years ago this week - at the end of March 1998 - the World Today hit the airwaves, the first of three overnight editions that were designed to catch the audiences as they rise - a breakfast programme for the planet offering morning listening to East Asia, South Asia as well as Europe and Africa. Ten years on the regional emphasis has given way to a global agenda, yet the purpose and intention of the programme are unchanged: we set out to inform, explain, engage and - occasionally - entertain.
In our first decade on air, we have charted the aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia, the emergence of China and India as global powers, we have followed the War on Terror in its many ramifications - the programme was live on air as allied troops reached Kabul, as the first missiles hit Baghdad and as Saddam Hussein was executed. We have reported from Israel and Lebanon at the height of the war, from the Burmese border as the country threatened to implode and from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing as the People's Congress was anointing a new generation of leaders.
We've heard from the movers and shakers - from Bush to Blair, from Clinton to Kofi Annan, from Mbeki to Musharraf, they have all been on the programme - but the World Today will always go the extra mile to see find the ordinary person caught up in the headline news - the Kenyan trader on the border to Somalia for whom the reality of the conflict next door is not one of UN Security Council meetings and deployment of peacekeeping forces, but quite simply one of escalating sugar prices, the Australian aborigine on the day of the government's apology for the Stolen Generations or the Israeli war veteran in debate with a young refusenik as the missiles rain down on Haifa.
Every now and then, we will find a new and counterintuitive approach to look at the stories of our time. After the riots on the banlieues in France, a French and a British student swapped homes and countries for a week to learn and report on air about the differences in which their societies deal with immigration and integration; two years prior to the violent unrests in Kenya, the programme handed over the airwaves to a group of young Kenyan pupils in Naivasha - a town in the Rift Valley that saw some of the worst atrocities this year - to give them a chance to address the issues that mattered to them - with tribalism topping the list even then.
If you're a regular listener and have made it to this site, you may also want to watch the video which gives you an insight into the reality of what goes in our offices and studios here at Bush House before we bring you another edition of the World Today. Ten years of the World Today equal approximately 18,500 hours on air - if you wanted to listen to it all, it would take you more than two years. Remember you can get in touch with us via e-mail or text. The address: Worldhaveyoursay@bbc.co.uk or SMS text message -- use your international code and then 44 77 86 20 60 80. Thanks for listening and stay tuned!
Editor / World Today