Toby Miller and Graeme Turner
Radio is probably the most neglected medium in the academic literature on Australian media and communications. Although Australians spend more time listening to radio than consuming any other media form, there is very little written about its history, or its modes of production and consumption. Yet many of us make use of radio to regulate and punctuate our day. It wakes us up in the morning; it provides time calls and weather forecasts as we prepare for work; it updates us on the news of the day in the morning, at midday and as we drive home. The consumption of radio is thoroughly embedded in the routines of daily life in ways that make the practice of choosing a program—as we do in television—seem redundant. At a more public level, it is possible to argue that radio dominates the establishment of the daily political agenda and is now the medium of choice for politicians attempting to reach their constituents. While music programming is no longer as culturally central as it may have been in the heyday of Top 40 programming (the 1960s) or FM album-oriented rock (the 1970s and 1980s), it remains the primary form through which popular music is promoted and consumed. It thus remains one of the central means through which young people's identities are constructed. Community radio, once a backwater for special-interest programming, is now sufficiently attractive to specific markets to compete with the commercial stations. As technological change affects the way radio reaches its audiences, and how it promotes itself to those audiences, it may be returning to the foreground of Australian popular culture.
Starting as a new technology which originally held out the promise of two-way communication, developing into a broadcast mass medium in the 1920s before