Mediated Communication in Times of Crisis
Edited By Joy Elizabeth Hayes, Kathleen Battles and Wendy Hilton-Morrow
Forword: The Return of Radio
F O R E W O R D The Return of Radio MICHELE HILMES adio is back! The genesis of this volume, marking the 75th anniversary of the broadcast of the War of the Worlds and linking it to current modes and moments of media communication, illustrates a phenomenon that has recently become apparent worldwide: After nearly fifty years of scholarly and critical neglect, radio has returned to center stage, as a mode of cultural expression, as a model for new media forms, and as a subject of scholarly inquiry. Certainly radio itself never went away; all through the decades of its surrender of the central spot in the living room to television, and its transformation into a marketing wing of the popular music industry, we have loved and depended on radio. Radio sets proliferated, no longer in the living room but virtually everywhere else in the house and outside as well, especially in our cars, workplaces, social spots, and commercial spaces. And during moments of crisis, as this volume demonstrates, its flexibility and portability as a medium took it into places and situations that no other technology could. It became our main emergency medium, our daily standby, a role it continues to this day. Programs like War of the Worlds exemplify a particular kind of long-form radio “soundwork”: a sonic text that employs the basic aural elements of speech, music, and noise to create dramatic fictional or factual experiences, often a combination of both. Typically speech is the dominant...
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