Forskning ved Københavns Universitet - Københavns Universitet

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Accessible Radio: Archive, accessibility and materiality in the youth radio programme P4 i P1

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

  • Mette Simonsen Abildgaard
This anthological PhD dissertation is an examination of the development of listeners’ involvement and technology in the youth radio programme P4 i P1 from 1973 to 1996. At its beginning in 1973, P4 i P1 was an innovative example of youth radio and especially experimented with the listener involving radio genres, which in the dissertation are termed ‘accessible radio’. As a part of the LARM Audio Research Archive Project, which ran from 2010 to 2013, the project has taken its starting point in a large quantity of digitalised radio broadcasts from the radio archive of the public service provider Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR).
The project’s empirical material consists of a series of P4 i P1 broadcasts that were produced by DR’s B&U (Children and Youth) Department. Over the years, P4 i P1 was between three to five hours long, depending on the amount of programme segments. This means that approximately 4,500 hours of radio under the name P4 i P1 were broadcast before the programme was taken off the air on 1 April 1997. From these thousands of hours, this project has taken a sample designed with the purpose of representing the typical P4 i P1- programme. The sample consists of two programmes sent on the same days each year in the period the programme existed (excluding 1997, as the programme ended before the sample days). This makes up a total of 167.5 hours of radio broadcasts over 44 Sundays.
The dissertation consists of three articles written for peer- reviewed journals that each deal with one significant programme segment in P4 i P1 and its associated communication technology: letters in Det elektriske barometer, the telephone in Tværs and messages on an ‘automatic telephone tape recorder’ in P4 pop.
Despite wide recognition in media studies, the significance of technology is often understated or overlooked in radio and sound studies. The article on P4 pop addresses this absence in a longitudinal study of uses by radio listeners and radio hosts of the ‘automatic telephone tape recorder’ (ATTR). The article shows that the two groups developed a range of uses for the tape recorder from 1973 to 1996 and that confessional use, despite its paradoxical synthesis of public and private, particularly emerged as the significant feature of the segment. In the article, an analysis of changes in users’ perception of technology over time is performed within a phenomenological media studies framework with the media historian Paddy Scannell as its most important representative, opposite the philosopher Don Ihde and the emerging field of postphenomenology. Conclusively, I formulate a sociomaterial perspective on radio as the ‘intimate medium’ whose formation is negotiated through time in a multistable process between technology, listeners and radio hosts.
The article about Tværs discusses the home telephone’s historical significance in the radio phone-in genre based on a qualitative study of telephone conversations in the segment. In an STS (Science and Technology Studies) approach to the genre, the concept of ‘passage’ from Law and Moser (1999) provides a theoretical framework for understanding radio phone-in conversations as shaped in a sociomaterial process. The study’s empirical material derives from the dissertation’s large sample of P4 i P1 broadcasts. Examples of telephone conversations in Tværs and a charting of the recent history of the telephone in Denmark portray the telephone in radio as a historically evolving technology which, in late 20th-century family life, changed from being a non-personal technology used in common areas to the teenage user’s personal technology for private conversations. The article concludes that the emancipatory phone-in genre’s main challenges were the materiality of the home and the telephone’s ambiguous privacy and ownership status. This research also traces the issue of media talk privacy to contemporary online surveillance.
In the article on P4 i P1's Det elektriske barometer, written with Granly Jensen, digitalised material from the Danish youth radio programme forms the basis for an experiment in how access to digital archives can inform humanities scholarship. Due to their historically inaccessible nature, public service broadcasters' media archives have primarily lent themselves to internal reflection, while historical contextualisation of the cultural heritage in these archives has been broadcasters' prerogative. In the article, we argue that one important implication of the new digital archives is that they enable approaches that are independent of broadcasters' own narratives, as they offer the possibility of autonomous study of large quantities of material. The character of listener involvement in Det elektriske barometer in relation to Carpentier's concept of ‘participation’ (2011b) is approached from a micro, meso and macro level to explore how different approaches to digital archives can provide new answers to media's self-presentation.
First, a micro-level analysis in the article is directed at the host's representation of the individual listener's letter to the hit parade. Second, we consider the role of the letter at the meso level of the whole segment, that is, the linguistic, rhythmical and tonal staging used by the hosts when reading listeners' letters. Third, at the macro level, we analyse the segment's development over time, from 1986 to 1996, to examine the possible development in the hosts' use of letters and listener inclusion in Det elektriske barometer. This final quantitative analysis tests the scope of the qualitative analyses and adds a historical contextualisation to the overall analysis.
Besides the three articles, this dissertation consists of a dissertation summary, which is structured according to the articles’ shared focus areas: the archive, accessibility and materiality. The summary treats the project’s methodological approaches in the chapter ‘Archive’, which relates to the archive as an important factor in the dissertation. This project has drawn from both in the sense of the archive as an archival logic, which has shaped the material with which I have worked, and the concrete archives. The chapter includes a detailed account of coding categories that appeared while working with the P4 i P1-material, which in digital form was exported to the qualitative analysis software NVivo, and the predominantly inductive coding strategies that were employed in the dissertation’s three articles.
The question of accessibility is treated in the summary under the chapter of that name, in which it is argued that Carpentier’s notions of ‘access’, ‘interaction’ and ‘participation’ (2011a) can be used to gather those many radio formats, which include and historically have included the listener, under the genre term ‘accessible radio’. In the chapter’s historical account of P4 i P1’s emergence and composition, ‘accessibility’ is described as a central part of the programme’s broadcasts. Here, it is portrayed as how the accessibility of P4 i P1 must be understood as connected to the conceptualisation of the programme in DR’s B&U Department as well as the emancipatory ideals of the 1960s and ‘70s political left-wing movement and media historical circumstances such as the introduction of a new public service radio channel, P3, for the youth.
The dissertation summary also contains a discussion of the dissertation’s theoretical key source in the chapter on materiality: phenomenology and the philosophy of technology. Heidegger – and his foundational understanding of the world as understood through technology – is one of the central figures in the dissertation, considering several of the theoretical perspectives used in the articles (Paddy Scannell’s media phenomenology, Don Ihde’s postphenomenology) have Heideggerian ancestry. The chapter on materiality, however, also describes how my studies on radio depart from the Heideggerian inheritance, especially through my use of Ihde’s technology relations (2009). Finally, I argue that the phenomenological perspective on media accessibility and technology could benefit from an expansion in an alternative ontology to a greater degree incorporating the idea of distributed subjectivity. This perspective is represented, for instance, in the actor-network theory and is employed in the article on Tværs. Here, the phenomenological focus on the relation between subject and world is replaced by Law and Moser’s concept of ‘passage’ and an inclusion of an array of non-human actors and their significance in media interactions.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Antal sider198
StatusUdgivet - 10 jun. 2014
Eksternt udgivetJa

ID: 113804357