The Death of Radio? An Essay in Radio Philosophy for the Digital Age - Alan Beck - online book - published by Sound Journal 2002



Radio is being transformed in this digital age and it may lose its very name. So this monograph is titled The 'Death of Radio?'. Pre-digital understanding of radio is challenged, as is the very field of radio studies. A 'reinvention' and 're-configuration' of radio-audio studies is needed, and a new radio studies. This monograph is also an 'essay', or attempt, in radio-philosophy, asking radio studies to think of itself in new ways, addressing some methodologies and foundationalist issues (disciplinary consciousness). It is done in parallel with an investigation of radio in the digital age.

There are four systems now (2002) for delivering digital radio signals - satellite, cable, DAB and the Internet - and these have given rise to some audio which can be described as 'un-radio-like'. Also, there are Internet-only radio stations. Analysis is given of the 'radio-like' (Internet radio) and the 'un-radio-like' (in two case studies of (a) Music Choice, a new 'super-multiplex' of automated music channels available on the Sky Digibox, and (b) the downloading of MP3 files from Internet sites).

It is too soon to supply a group of satisfying theories for digital radio-audio studies. However, five identity conditions are suggested for radio. They include a new radio apparatus theory linked to reception theory, clarification, or defining radio as against other media, the specificities of radio and a portmanteau term, 'radioworld'. Further topics are: undecidability ('aporia') in theory-building, technological convergence/divergence, problems with a strict constructionist stance on defining radio and its history, and culturalism.

A 'reinvention' of radio studies may be parallel to that in film studies (Gledhill, Christine and Williams, Linda, eds., 2000, Reinventing Film Studies, London: Arnold); and a twinning is suggested for the future, of both 'hard' radio studies (the current agenda of media/cultural studies), and 'soft' radio studies (expanding into new areas on the lead of film, the visual arts and performance theory).

This monograph offers summary definitions of radio, but finally a portmanteau term, 'radioworld', relating the theory strands to each other. 'Radioworld' seeks, in homage to Arthur Danto's 'Artworld' in visual arts theory, to identify the 'radio-like' as 'enfranchised by theory'. (Danto, Arthur, 1987, 'The Artworld' in Margolis, Joseph, ed., Philosophy Looks at the Arts, 3rd ed., Philadelphia: Temple University Press)

To Introduction - Digital - coming soon to a radio near you


The Death of Radio? An Essay in Radio Philosophy for the Digital Age - Alan Beck - online book - published by Sound Journal 2002


 Introduction - Digital - coming soon to a radio near you

 Section 1 - Radio - How Do We Know We Hear It If We Can't Define It?

 Section 2 - Theoretical Challenges

 Section 3 - Sound and listening
 Section 4 - Apparatus theory

 Section 5 - Approaches through clarification and reception theory

 Section 6 - Specificities of radio

 Section 7 - Relatively radio - radioworld

 Section 8 - Doing business as usual? The problems of radio 'essence'





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