Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination

Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination

Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination

Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination

Synopsis

"Listening In is the first in-depth history of how radio culture and content have kneaded and expanded the American psyche. Susan Douglas explores how listening has altered our day-to-day experiences and our own generational identities, cultivating different modes of listening in different eras; how radio has shaped our views of race, gender roles, ethnic barriers, family dynamics, leadership, and the generation gap. With her trademark wit, Douglas has created an eminently readable cultural history of radio." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Between 1966 and 1970, Erik Barnouw published his now-classic History of Broadcasting in the United States. It was the first and best overview history of American broadcasting ever published; everyone relied on it, and it was three volumes, each of them about 350 pages.

This book is the first attempt at an overview of radio's nearly hundredyear history since then. It is only one volume. To say that it is incomplete would be a monumental understatement; there are enormous chasms here waiting to be filled by other historians. Each chapter could have been a book in its own right. and there are chapters not included here that could be, like one on children's radio, one on radio drama, another on late-night radio or classical music stations and their listeners or pirate radio or the history of country and western radio. the importance of regional radio to ethnic groups or recent migrants to an area such as Los Angeles should be a book. So should an exploration of how Latino populations have used radio to build and sustain communities in the United States. wdia, the pioneering Memphis station that was the first in the country to feature an all-black on-air staff, deserves more scholarly attention. I could go on and on. the hard thing for all of us who regard radio as a crucially important area of study—one that still remains neglected, although talented young people around the country are starting to rectify that—is the dearth of archival tapes of what went on the air. Nonetheless, we must excavate, reconstruct, and preserve what we can.

There is still so much history here waiting to be written, so much work to be done examining the act of listening to the radio and its relationship to personal identity and cultural values and practices. Such work is centrally important to our ongoing understanding of who we are as individuals, members . . .

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