U50 conference looks at trends, history and social impact of radio

What are the latest trends in radio? What is the social impact of the medium? Those are just two of the questions to be addressed at the upcoming The Radio Conference 2009: A Transnational Forum in celebration of York’s 50th anniversary.

This fifth transnational radio forum, running from Monday, July 27 to Thursday, July 30 at York’s Keele campus, will bring together scholars, practitioners and students of radio to share ideas and perspectives on radio’s cultural role in an increasingly global media. It will continue the work started at the other forums in the United Kingdom in 2001 and again in 2007, Wisconsin in 2003 and Australia in 2005.

Professor Michael Keith (right) of Boston College, who has written some 20 books on electronic media, will deliver the keynote address on the first day in the Seymour Schulich Building dining room on “The Absence of Social Impact Curricula in Radio Studies”. His books include The Radio Station: Broadcast, Satellite & Internet, (8th Ed. Focal Press, 2009), Signals in the Air: Native Broadcasting in America (Praeger Publishers, 1995) and Sounds in the Dark: All-Night Radio in American Life (Wiley-Blackwell, 2001). 

In addition, he is co-author of The Quieted Voice: The Rise and Demise of Localism in American Radio (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005) and editor of Radio Cultures: The Sound Medium in American Life (Peter Lang Publishing, 2008), which looks at the impact of the audio medium in American life.

The remainder of the conference will take place in York’s Technology Enhanced Learning Building and will include papers, panels and symposia on all aspects of radio – historical, cultural, critical and institutional – including investigations of the changing form and content of radio and its associated audio media. Several panels will explore the latest trends in radio, its social impact, its history, as well as radio technology over the four days of the conference.

Right: Donna Kakonge

Rachael Borlase and Amara Bangura of BBC World Service will discuss “Interactive Radio Programming in Northern Sierra Leone”, while broadcast and print journalist Charles Hays of Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, will talk about “Radio Anywhere: Challenges & Opportunities for Canadian & US Journalism Schools” during one of the radio technology panels.

In one of the many social impact panels, Donna Kakonge, faculty member in the School of Communication Arts at Seneca@York, will explore “Radio as Racial Utopia: The Case of CKUT’s BlackTalk”, Ryerson University history Professor Angela Blake will look at “No Excuses on Da Bowl: Competition and Masculinity in African-American Citizens Band Radio Culture” and David Goodman, history professor at the University of Melbourne, will discuss “Race and Classical Music”.

York communication studies Professor Anne MacLennan (left), joint chair of the conference, will look at “Misconceptions in Early Canadian Radio” during one of the history panels, while communications studies Professor Perry Howell of the University of Iowa will address “Early Radio News and the Origins of the Risk Society” and Professor Anne Dunn of the University of Sydney will explore “The Radio Generation and its Transformations”. History Professor Len Kuffert of the University of Manitoba will chair the panel.

In another history panel, history Professor Mary Vipond of Concordia University will talk about “The Voice of Doom? Rhetorical Authority on CBC Wartime Newscasts”, communication studies and multimedia Professor Christine Baade of McMaster University will discuss “Radio Rhythm Club: Performing ‘Americanness’ in Jazz at the Wartime BBC” and Hugh Chignell of Bournemouth University in the UK will speak on “JB Priestley’s War Time Talks”.

In latest trends, Mark Percival of Queen Margaret University in the UK will look at “Music Radio and the Record Industry: Songs, Sounds and Power”, while Matt Mollgaard of Auckland University of Technology will discuss “Pirate Stories: Rethinking Radio Rebels”.

One of the panels looking at radio technology will explore “Practices of Localism at Low-Power FM Radio Stations” with Cynthia Conti of New York University and “Is Localism the Answer?: The Public Interest Radio Project” with Chad Dell and Aaron Furgason of Monmouth University in New Jersey.

The conference is sponsored by York’s Department of Communication Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the York and Ryerson Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture.

For more information about the conference, visit The Radio Conference 2009 Web site.