Trans-border radio reception and constructions of identity

IP1: Trans-border radio reception and constructions of identity explores the role of radiogenic aesthetics in structuring practices of transnational radio listening, in light of the increasing number of opportunities to listen to trans-border radio programs, starting with satellite diffusion in the 1990s, and tremendously furthered in recent years by online distribution of radio as a whole new sphere of trans-border programs. Building on aspects of the phenomenology of media (Scannell 1996) and recent theoretical and methodological developments (Åberg 1999; Föllmer 2012), it is assumed that radio’s formatting and marketing issues, socio-political constellations, technical state-of-the-art and the national as well as the social cultural environment express themselves not only in the content, but very vividly in the aesthetic formation of how radio sounds. In the course of TRE, IP1 will focus on the aesthetics of expressing and understanding national cultural identities and ideas of transnationalism from the (listening) producers’ and the listeners’ perspectives. To gain insights in the realm of Infrastructures and Public Spheres, IP1 will conduct (or draw from other IPs) qualitative interviews with key persons in strategic and production departments of

  • a) National public service radios & international services
  • b) Internationally active commercial cross border radio stations like Sky Radio
  • c) Internationally active commercial stations based on a common program with national editions like NRJ.

Questions of Aesthetics and Territoriality will be addressed using program analysis on micro and meso level based on comparative methods developed by the PI and members of his research network ‘Radio Aesthetics – Radio Identities’ concerning composition of packaging elements, mix and patterning of formal broadcast elements, vocal delivery etc. These will be related to patterns of listening and interpretation via

  • a) Experimental and ethnographic exploration of listener navigation
  • b) Qualitative interviews with radio listeners about their experience listening to transnational radio programs, incl. internet radio and
  • c) Comparative analysis of quantitative statistics from permanent audience research.

Approaches and findings of IP1 will be cross-fed to other IPs of this Collaborative Research Project, concerning (a.o.) questions of transnational radio events (IP3) and digitization of radio (IP2). Deliverables of IP1 will include theoretical foundations and methodological tools and guidance for research on radio aesthetics in the light of comparative approaches to national identities and transnationalism, offered to the academic community by means of the Open Access TRE Knowledge Base, on conferences (The Radio Conference 2013, LARM Conference 2013, ECREA Conference Lisbon, 2014 etc.), in articles for peer reviewed journals (Journal of Radio and Audio Media, The Radio Journal a.o.) and the TRE book.

Latest activities for this project:

(Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 15:06)

PI1 Golo Föllmer visited the ›Dokumentationsarchiv Funk‹ (DokuFunk) in Vienna to find information on the listening practice and ideals as well as technical and infrastructural development of the medium. DokuFunk's head Prof. Wolf Harranth and his colleagues helped to find fascinating early documents in this immensly large fundus. 

On the side, Föllmer conducted an interview with KroneHit Radio CEO Rüdiger Landgraf on their packaging practices. 

(Sunday, May 3, 2015 - 23:37)

Golo Föllmer reported on the methods, questions and corpus applied in IP1's subproject on sequence analysis of a corpus of recordings of 24 radio stations from 12 countries.

(Sunday, May 3, 2015 - 23:04)

Four interviews with producers and editors on their concepts of on-air layout were done in Cologne on March 31. and April 1. 2015. Wolfram Kähler from the cultural program WDR 2 and Torsten Remy from the youth program 1Live were asked about their approach to developing and using packaging elements. WDR, Germany's largest regional public service broadcaster, also has a central unit for Audio Design, of which its head, Angela Traud, answered Golo Föllmer's questions. Finally, Christian Wilke of the national public service broadcaster Deutschlandradio Wissen informed about his perspective.