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Communicating Through Air: Early Radio, Consumption, and the Emergence of Broadcasting ACG5214 Social Media 2.0 Amy White 4401577
What is broadcasting? According to John Hartley (2002): "Broad- casting is over-the-air transmission, whereby signals (analogue waves or digital data) are emitted from a central transmitter in the AM, VHF/FM and UHF bands" It also describes an industry
Broadcasting is one way Or is it? Initial discussion and analysis describes broadcasting as one way, however this has been revised in other theories which discuss the capacity of the consumer to ‘actively engage” What about … Talkback radio, live twitter feeds on tv shows, Zeebox, viewer submitted Q&A in talk shows, Australian Idol.
Early Radio Broadcasting Was seen as the culmination of technological advancement Technology = Power Communication = Power Civilised (technologically advanced) nations are "by these means of communication made more than a match for the hordes of barbarism" Language & Power? USA and UK were leaders in radio broadcasting and some people argued this would lead to the dominance of the English language as the main mode of communication. That they could force their language on the weaker (less technologically advanced) societies. English would become hegemonic.
So what happened? The power of niche programming ...
Broadcasting technology: Religion and the Otherworldly, Technological anxiety Is radio broadcasting a divine gift from God, or is it a disturbing 'occult going on‘? Recurring theme of 'technological anxiety' linking technology to themes of isolation, despair, anxiety, occult and death
Radio as the great unifier • Some viewed wireless as a way to 'enhance national identity and state power in the US • Radio as a political and cultural unifier • As a way of assimilating new arrivals. "We must know and honour the same heroes, love the same songs, enjoy the same sports, realise our common interest in our national problems" The Dissenters • Argued that this centrally administered wireless culture would result in a "mass mind" in the standardisation of thought and of everyone being brought down to the "mass intelligence" • Also argued there is potential for this to usher in the "day of domination and control"
Radio as ‘the great male adventure’ • Wireless operators in the battlefield in the wars • In the early 1900's as a socially sanctioned male hobby. • The Ham Radio Operator as fisherman, hunter, spy... an active, adventurous male leisure activity. What changes in society in the early 1900’s laid the ground for this? “The hobby of radio in the early twentieth century helped set up the gender and the domestic associations of the electronic media which still resonate a century later" http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-gender-imbalance-in-technology-20130806-2rbc2.html
The gendered media consumer -selling radio to the housewife • In the 1920’s there was a move away from selling parts to selling fully built receiver sets "bringing radio out of the attic and into the living room" • Radio was no longer aimed at technically skilled enthusiasts, but pitched to housewives (the purchase deciders) as a status symbol for the home. This shift changed the gender and status associations as well as the modes of reception. • Changing it from an activity into something passively consumed - often just as background noise. • 'The gendered media consumer' - has influenced launch of electronic media up until today
The Radio Boom • Began in the USA in 1922 and expanded the audience beyond the group of enthusiasts. • This created tension - between the enthusiasts and the 'casual listeners' and also between the enthusiasts and the broadcasters • Concern, especially by the enthusiasts of their space being invaded by advertisers "the government can have no legal or moral right to permit the monopolistic use of the air for direct advertising"
Radio and the consumer economy • Changes in society meant that Individual households were more strongly linked to the consumer economy. • In 1920 only 1 out of 20 top manufacturing firms made consumer products, buy 1930 it was 9 out of 20 • ‘increasingly lavish and expensive' radio sets were sold and marketed. • Via these same sets, Broadcasters exploited broadcasting to send direct advertising messages The sales and marketing of radio: • There was a move away from need for technical expertise into a smooth talking salesperson • Don't talk tech or circuits, whatever you do! • Device as a 'status symbol
Unrealised potential ... ? • Has radio broadcasting ever fully realised it’s potential? • Brecht, Bertolt (1979) argues that radio is one-sided when it should be two. • It is used purely for distribution when it could be used for communication. What are your thoughts?
In closing ... "100 years of historical experience of electronic communication in the home repeatedly rehearse a series of gendered and normative oppositions between the active and passive domestic audience, from the male wireless amateur versus distracted housewife in the 1920's to the degraded couch potato versus heroic Internet surfer of the 1990 .. such persistent figurations helped to define the role of electronic media in the intimate spaces and gendered routines of everyday life."