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Taylor & Francis

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Journal of Radio & Audio Media

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DOI: 10.1080/19376529.2019.1576340


Radio studies occupies an unusual position within film and media studies. As Journal of Radio & Audio Media Editor, Anne MacLennan (2016) has noted, the area is often recognized as a euphemism for media history. It’s a small sub-discipline that has already been legitimated, yet at the same time has difficulty maintaining visibility within broader media studies discourses. Fewer graduate programs are supporting radio or media history research, with notable exceptions, leading to fewer media historians rising to replace a previous generation that has recently retired. But the work continues and has undergone several recent changes. Radio studies often receives the most traction when it’s associated with contemporary debates in media research, such as sound studies, or as Michelle Hilmes has proposed (2013), further unification of sound analyses into categories such as “sound work.” This strategy has experienced some degree of success. National conferences such as the Society of Cinema and Media Studies have recently recognized multiple sound-based and history projects with major awards, and radio researchers are well recognized by colleagues working on television and digital media.

As media studies continues to mature as a discipline, scholars have realized that there’s an incomplete record of the object of study. A relatively new field, media studies is still without, for example, a comprehensive sense of how media has been utilized by producers outside of the highly gate-kept world of advertising-sponsored production. And for that matter, though recent books by Vancour (2018), Meyers (2013), Stamm (2016), and Socolow (2016) have helped to clarify these questions, there is still much to write on the origins of research and development practices, production cultures pre-1970, or how mass media developed its economy of scale. Radio studies has embraced a discipline-clarifying role, and it’s possible to imagine a revival of media history research in the near future.


Accepted version. Journal of Radio & Audio Media, Vol. 26, No. 1 (2019): 4-7. DOI. © 2019 Taylor & Francis. Used with permission.

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