The Who guitarist will use the lecture to discuss whether creativity in music, or "John Peelism", can survive in the internet age when listeners expect to access music for free.
Townshend's keynote address will launch this year's festival on October 31 and be introduced by Peel's son and 6 Music presenter Tom Ravenscroft, along with festival hosts, Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie. The lecture will be broadcast live on digital station 6 Music, followed by a Q&A session.
Peel was one of Britain's most revered broadcasters, renowned for championing lesser-known genres of music with wit, passion and disregard for conventions. He died in October 2004.
"I am honoured to be invited to deliver Radio 6 Music's John Peel Lecture," said Townshend.
"Through John's shows I first heard artists like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Undertones and The Proclaimers before they had record contracts.
Ravenscroft added: "We have in the past few years had trains, housing estates and a restaurant named after dad and so I think he'd have been both bemused and delighted to see he now has a lecture and that Pete Townshend will be delivering the first of them.
"I'm really happy that 6 Music are honouring him in this way and that the people who kindly agree to participate will help ensure that his legacy will continue into the future."
John Myers, the chief executive of The Radio Academy, which produces The Radio Festival, said that he was "absolutely thrilled" to secure Townshend to deliver the first John Peel lecture.
He added: "The radio industry in the UK relies on high-quality music. John Peel was at the forefront of introducing new talent to the listening public and Pete Townshend and The Who were among the first artists John promoted at the start of his formidable and influential radio career."
The Radio Festival will run from October 31 to November 2 in the Lowry Theatre, Salford, and also include appearances by BBC director general Mark Thompson; musicians Jamie Cullum and Ronnie Wood; and Google UK boss Matt Britin. 'Whispering' Bob Harris is also to discuss his 40-year broadcasting career at this year's festival.