Radio Deprogramming

Recommended readings

馃摙  Registered workshop participants: please refer to your email for readings that do not have open-access links here.

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Radio Space and Industrial Time

Jody Berland 路 1990

Published in the journal Popular Music, Jody Berland鈥檚 鈥淩adio space and industrial time: music formats, local narratives and technological mediation鈥 explains how the radio format 鈥 understood as 鈥渁 complex set of rules for programming鈥 (p. 181) 鈥 had segmented and standardized sonic culture in contrast with radio鈥檚 relation to local space. Published in 1990 and focusing on the Canadian broadcast radio landscape, Berland鈥檚 article also gives us a fuller sense of the same critical context in which Radio Naked was produced.

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Violent Circuits, Contentious Voices: Caribbean Radio Histories

Alejandra Bronfman 路 2014

In a post for the sound studies blog Sounding Out!, Alejandra Bronfman briefly surveys major points from her subsequent book Isles of Noise: Sonic Media in the Caribbean. As with the other entries in its containing 鈥淩adio de Acci贸n鈥 series on SO!, Bronfman鈥檚 post highlights moments when radio was the means and target of urgent political action 鈥 in this case, including torture and assassination. These histories imbricate colonial and anti-colonial pressures with contests over cultural and tactical broadcasting, raising the stakes of what it can mean to program or deprogram on one鈥檚 own terms.

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Programmability

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun 路 2008

In her contribution to Software Studies: A Lexicon, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun explains how the notion of programmability split off from other meanings of 鈥減rogram鈥 (including its broadcast usage) to co-evolve with the electronic computer. Chun is a new media scholar with backgrounds in both literature and systems design engineering, and her brief chapter dives deep into the semiotic differences between analog and digital computing. For our purposes, the entry provides a good overview of how the computing sense of programming overlaps and diverges with other contexts. It also, at the end, points toward a possible death of programming in one sense as programmability and control adapt to new scientific developments.

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The R, the A, the D, the I, the O: The Media Ecology of Pirate Radio

Matthew Fuller 路 2005

Matthew Fuller has been a leading voice in software studies 鈥 an interdisplinary movement to explore computer code as a cultural and aesthetic terrain 鈥 but the first chapter of his 2005 book Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture focuses on radio. In a theory-heavy and experimentally styled treatment of London pirate stations, Fuller shows radio as a medium that enlists many different technologies and demonstrates radio鈥檚 ongoing relevance for artistic interrogators of newer digital media. In a particularly useful passage (p.) for our discussion on (de)programming, Fuller explains cultural theorist Stuart Hall鈥檚 critique of a sender-receiver communication model and argues that we need to go further in undoing the hylomorphism (separation of form and content) that holds back our understanding of improvistory media systems like pirate radio.

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The Intertribal Drum of Radio

Josh Garrett-Davis 路 2018

In 鈥淭he Intertribal Drum of Radio: The Indians for Indians Hour and Native American Media, 1941-1951,鈥 historian Josh Garrett-Davis examines the local and broader cultural impact of radio programmer Don Whistler. The article attends to Whistler鈥檚 surrounding career and follows an auditory approach to understanding his innovations. Garrett-Davis writes that in 鈥淸c]reating Indians for Indians, Whistler turned from the mainstream toward the intertribal studio, where he used modern technology to build a cultural as well as political sovereignty behind walls that muffled what we might call the colonial din鈥 (p. 268) of most media outlets鈥 representations of Indigenous people.

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Description for Simulcast 1.0: Saskatoon

Emmanuel Madan 路 2008

For 鈥Simulcast 1.0: Saskatoon,鈥 four sound and radio artists 鈥 Martine H. Crispo, GX Jupitter-Larsen, Magali Babin, and Harold Schellinx 鈥 each contributed a week of multi-hour broadcasts that aired overnight across April 2008. In a description for the work, curator Emmanuel Madan reflects on how this durational mode of broadcasting can intervene in radio鈥檚 rigidly programmed temporal grids: 鈥淧ut simply, radio broadcasting today is an almost exclusively rhythmic affair鈥. 鈥楽imulcast 1.0b : Saskatoon鈥 proposes to renew radio鈥檚 link with eternity.鈥

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Contemporary Encounters between Indigenous and Early Music

Dylan Robinson 路 2020

In Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, sound and visual studies scholar Dylan Robinson critiques a settler-colonial tendency to collect and decontextualize Indigenous music under the banner of reconciliation. The book鈥檚 third chapter addresses this problem in the contexts of a broadcast radio event and concert programming. Throughout Hungry Listening, Robinson builds on the event score form to imagine and encourage encounters that can reveal and redress the harms of misguided efforts to harmonize Indigenous sounds with settler structures. These event scores, including the one that concludes chapter 3 (鈥淓vent Score for Those Who Hold Our Songs鈥), might be called a means of deprogramming sonic arts institutions in order to dispel colonial modes of listening.

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Human Programming: Computation, Emotion, and the Posthuman Other

Scott Selisker 路 2016

Literary historian Scott Selisker鈥檚 book Human Programming: Brainwashing, Automatons, and American Unfreedom is a 鈥渃ultural history of the idea of the programmable mind in U.S. culture.鈥 Its third chapter traces how computer programming, increasingly visible as a cultural force during and after the Cold War, reanimated existing anxieties about the 鈥渉uman automaton.鈥 Selisker uses cultural representations to connect cybernetics, posthumanism, and racist tropes of 鈥渢echno-Orientalism.鈥 The chapter adds useful context for the period in North American media when more listeners and artists were growing concerned with what we might call radio鈥檚 increasing automatedness.

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Making Radio Time: Managing Broadcasting's Sonic Flows

Shawn VanCour 路 2018

The first chapter in historian Shawn VanCour鈥檚 Making Radio: Early Radio Production and the Rise of Modern Sound Culture asks a narrow but consequential question: how did 鈥渟cheduling strategies鈥 in the 1920s contribute to the success of commercial radio and a larger 鈥渃ommodification of sound?鈥 VanCour鈥檚 research focuses on the internal producers and objects in a middle level of the radio medium that had been overlooked both by top-down (lionizing executives and inventors) and by more bottom-up (restoring listeners鈥 and performers鈥 agency) approaches. These workers and materials include radio programmers and the paper technology of the program log, which VanCour argues was a key element in stabilizing early radio into a medium.