Journal Feature: Radio

A couple special issues on radio are worth noting.

e16fcaa6130dae19fd5b0c30e4e314daThe Journal of Radio & Audio Media (Volume 23, Issue 2, 2016) features a 15-article symposium on preserving radio and audio culture, which grew out of the February 2016 Radio Preservation radioTask Force conference in Washington, DC. Issue editors are Drs. Amand Keeler, Josh Shepperd, and Christopher Sterling. Articles include “Networking the Counterculture: The 1970 Alternative Media Conference at Goddard College,”Illicit Transmissions: Engaging with the Study and Preservation of Pirate Radio,”Educational Radio, Listening Instruction, and the NBC Music Appreciation Hour,”Destination Freedom: A Historic Radio Series About Black Life,” “Tripping Down the (Media) Rabbit Hole: Radio Alice and the Insurgent Socialization of Airwaves,” “Archives, Advocacy and Crowd-Sourcing: Towards a More Complete Historiography of College Radio,” among others.

Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media
 (Volume 14, Issue 1, 2016) devotes a special section to podcasting in which authors in the section offer “both similarities and differences in how we read and analyse podcasts compared to radio stories or shows.  In the words of Richard Berry, ‘radio is an evolutionary animal’ adapting to the world around it. Berry argues that using the term ‘radio’ might only be useful as familiar shorthand for our understanding of podcasting; however, he suggests we must also acknowledge the distinctiveness of podcasts as from and medium…one major difference is radio’s ephemeral nature, with its programmes designed for a single, often distracted, audition. Podcasts can be saved and heard many times over, with programmes that listeners seek out and which they give their full attention. Through technologies like smartphones and headphones, the listening experience has moved from a secondary to a primary exercise.” So observes editors Mia Lindren and Michele Hilmes in the Editor’s Introduction to RJ 14:1 Podcast 2016 (p. 4) Articles include “Podcasting: Considering the Evolution of the Medium and Its Association with the Word ‘Radio,” “Making ‘Maximum Fun’ For Fans: Examining Podcast Listener Participation Online,” “How Podcasting is Changing the Audio Storytelling Genre,” and “Personal Narrative Journalism and Podcasting.”


LGBTQ Video Game Archive

It is my great pleasure to introduce LGBTQ Video Game Archive, a cool new resource on the scene as just tweeted yesterday by Adrienne Shaw @adrishaw: “Still a work in progress, but the first half of my digital archive of LGBTQ content in games is open to the public.” Ta-da!

Juhani_Force_persuade-620x352Dr. Shaw (Gr’10), is Assistant Professor at Temple University’s Department of Media Studies and Production and author of Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture. She describes the archive as a “curated collection of information about LGBTQ and queerly read game content.” The archive is organized around lists of games by decade, characters, locations, actions, mentions, and themes such as Homophobia/Transphobia, to name a few. All categories are clearly defined so there’s no confusion (ex. “Mods: Game modifications (mods) are player-made additions to games that alters the visuals or operation of a game. In this archive that includes mods that allow for same-sex relationships, change gender presentation options, or enable other LGBTQ content”).

The site also includes a bibliography, an “ongoing collection of academic writing about LGBTQ video game content, designers, players, or related topics.” All over the site you will find invitations for any and all feedback–questions, suggestions for additions and corrections. Indeed, the description of whole enterprise in the About section leads with “A work in progress and a labor of love.” It will be fun to watch it grow!


Super Bowl Reading

nflLines of Scrimmage: Selling and Contesting the NFL in Contemporary Media Culture is the title of a special issue of  Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture (Volume 14, Issue 1, 2016).

Writes issue editor, Thomas P. Oates, in the Introduction: Shifting formations: The NFL in uncertain times:
This special issue of Popular Communication directs a critical focus toward the league’s efforts to expand its presence and the possible obstacles to its growth. The broader context for this struggle is a set of economic/political/cultural shifts that have created new modes of producing and distributing popular culture. New forms of citizenship stress the pragmatic and often moral virtue of free markets, the importance (and fun) to be found in what Randy Martin (2002) describes as the “financialization of daily life” (p. 3). Despite claims of a new postracial, postfeminist environment, this cultural formation, as Lisa Duggan (2003) notes, “has a cultural politics” that “organizes political life in terms of race, gender, and sexuality as well as economic class and nationality, or ethnicity and religion.(p.3)”

The articles that make up the issue represent a rich variety of perspectives on NFL football.

Reaching the kids: NFL youth marketing and media / Jeffrey Montez de Oca, Brandon Meyer & Jeffrey Scholes
“Together, We Make Football”: The NFL’s “feminine” discourses / Victoria E. Johnson
America’s game: The NFL’s “Salute to Service” campaign, the diffused military presence, and corporate social responsibility / Adam Rugg
The 12th Man: Fan noise in the contemporary NFL / Mack Hagood & Travis Vogan
A rant good for business: Communicative capitalism and the capture of anti-racist resistance / Abraham Iqbal Khan              
Reframing concussions, masculinity, and NFL mythology in League of Denial / Zack Furness

Introducing Kulture

Kulture Asian American Media Watchdog (PRNewsFoto/Kulture Media)

There’s a new watchdog on the block called Kulture, a website devoted to tracking offensive representations of Asian Americans in the media. Explains Kulture’s founder Tim Gupta in the September 28 press release: “Many Asians know TV shows represent them in a bad light. But they may think they’re alone in that view. Kulture spotlights how Hollywood mocks and excludes Asian men while fetishizing Asian women. Kulture helps Asians and those concerned about media racism stay abreast of how Asians are depicted, and we will eventually serve as a platform for them to take action against Hollywood offenders.”

The site is easy to navigate and as it builds up more data it will be interesting to track offenders by media outlets, media types (TV shows, TV ads, movies, magazine ads), most recent offenses, and worst offenses. Offense categories include Denigration (Asians are weak), Denigration (Mockery of Asians), Gender (Asian Woman as plaything to White Male), Gender (White Male gets girl over Asian male), and Self-Aggrandizement (Whites as central), among others.  The site welcomes visitor input–anyone who spots an offense is encouraged to file out an Offense Report for refereed inclusion on site. To “join the bleeding-edge of Asian American activism,” simply sign up to receive bimonthly offense reports.

If you read Kulture’s manifesto of sorts–I’m referring to the About Us section–see if you don’t feel the ghost of George Gerbner and Cultivation Theory.  A convincing case is built for their enterprise. Television is 1) a storytelling medium, 2) the average person invests five hours a day watching it, and 3) these message (story-delivering) systems, movies included, harbor deleterious effects over time. The effects are most damaging to minorities since identities are by and large socially constructed. Though some research is cited in tandem with a couple of these points, this is classic Gerbner, going back to the early 70s.  It’s safe to say he would approve of this project. 



Women’s Magazine Archive I

Penn Libraries welcomes a new e-resource to its collection, Women’s Magazine Archive I, a searchable archive of five leading women’s interest magazines, dating from the 19th century through to the 21st. Titles are: GH

Better Homes and Gardens (1925-present)
Chatelaine (1940-present)
Good Housekeeping (1887-present)
Ladies’ Home Journal (1887-present)
Parents (1949-present)

All of these magazines were aimed at a female readership and thus are excellent primary sources for investigating the “women’s sphere”–from cooking and decorating to family health and parenting issues, from fashion and beauty to gardening and travel (most likely in the form of the family vacation). These magazines also touched on social issues of the day; individually or taken as a whole they represent a trove of  19th and 20th-century history and culture.

image_4 This from the Archive’s About section: “The magazines are all scanned from cover to cover in high-resolution color, ensuring that the original print artifacts are faithfully reproduced and that valuable non-article items, such as advertisements, are included. Detailed article-level indexing, with document feature flags, enables efficient searching and navigation of this content.”

A search on “lemon meringue pie” turns up 95 hits–one can compare a 1903 recipe to more recent ones. Turning to underwear, the 50s are a decisively bra-obsessed decade. A search on “bras” or “brassieres” over the decades proves no contest with the 50s putting up over hundred hits above its closest “rival” decade. A subject like addiction plays out like this: of 335 hits overall there are 36 in the 50s, 56 in the 60s, 47 in the 70s, 42 in the 80s, 77 in the 90s, and 86 from 2000-2009. 

The Women’s Magazine Archive I is a Proquest Database and you know what parentsthat means: it’s sitting in a suite of many other Proquest databases Penn subscribes to, including the Vogue Archive (1892-present).  If you want to select both of these files together you’ll have another iconic women’s magazine in the mix, all in the same search.

Camera Obscura Themed Issue on Reality TV

1_88.coverCamera Obscura’s latest issue (Volume 30, Number 1, 2015) is a handsome offering on reality TV titled: PROJECT REALITY TV.  The Introduction by the issue’s editors, Lynne Joyrich, Misha Kavka, and Brenda R. Weber, offers a playful preshow to the rest of the issue.

“[Project Reality TV: Preshow Special]…interrogates, while also playing with, some of TV’s forms and conventions, particularly those of the “preshow special” and the interview format. Borrowing from this format, it explores key issues around the appeal of reality television and the reasons for approaching it from a scholarly perspective, particularly that of feminist media studies. This version of the studio Q&A format, honed into a sub-genre by reality TV itself, is designed to elicit not only interest but knowledge—in this case, regarding what we see as some of the most significant questions facing studies of reality television, especially the specific studies dealing with health, housewives, “hot bodies,” and “hoochie mamas” that are included in “Project Reality TV.”  –Abstract of Introduction

In that Introduction  Kavka observes: “This demand to ‘be yourself’ for the camera seems contradictory, and yet it is increasingly naturalized in our media-saturated age. Well before  the spread of social media, selfies, and the Twitterverse, the reality TV camera revealed the mediated subject to be positioned somewhere between personal agency and the public gaze, between the  neoliberal hetoric of choice and the sociocultural norms and expectations that constrain such choices at every turn. In a sense, the study of reality television measures this ‘inbetween.’ No matter how formulaic the format is, no matter how cognizant of the camera the participants are, a reality show is ultimatela negoiation between producers and participants, scripted arcs and ad-libbed lines, social norms and individual resistances—all of which makes for very rich viewing experiences of these texts.” (pp. 2-3)

Lineup of articles:

    Reality Moms, Real Monsters: Transmediated Continuity, Reality Celebrity, and the Female Grotesque / Jennifer Lynn Jones and Brenda R. Weber

    Making Television Live: Mediating Biopolitics in Obesity Programming /  Michael Litwack

    (TV) Junkies in Need of an Intervention: On Addictive Spectatorship and Recovery Television / Hunter Hargraves

    Sex on the Shore: Care and the Ethics of License in Jersey Shore /  Misha Kavka

    They Gon’ Think You Loud Regardless: Ratchetness, Reality Television, and Black Womanhood /  Kristen J. Warner

    “I’m Very Rich, Bitch!”: The Melodramatic Money Shot and the Excess of Racialized Gendered Affect in the Real Housewives Docusoaps / Pier Dominguez

     “Quality” Reality and the Bravo Media Reality Series / Jane Feuer


April CommQuote

This month’s quote is from an interesting article in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies (Volume 12, Issue 2, 2015), The Right to Hide? Anti-Surveillance Camouflage and the Aestheticization of Resistance by Torin Monahan.

“A curious trend is emerging in this era of pervasive surveillance. Alongside increasing public awareness of drone warfare, government spying programs, and big data analytics, there has been a recent surge in anti-surveillance tactics. While these tactics range from software for anonymous Internet browsing to detoxification supplements for fooling drug tests, what is particularly fascinating is the panoply of artistic projects—and products—to conceal oneself from ambient surveillance in public places. These center on the masking of identity to undermine technological efforts to fix someone as a unique entity apart from the crowd. A veritable artistic industry mushrooms from the perceived death of the social brought about by ubiquitous public surveillance: tribal or fractal face paint and hairstyles to confound face-recognition software, hoodies and scarves made with materials to block thermal emissions and evade tracking by drones, and hats that emit infrared light to blind camera lenses and prevent photographs or video tracking. Anti-surveillance camouflage of this sort flaunts the system, ostensibly allowing wearers to hide in plain sight—neither acquiescing to surveillance mandates nor becoming reclusive under their withering gaze. This is an aestheticization of resistance, a performance that generates media attention and scholarly interest without necessarily challenging the violent and discriminatory logics of surveillance societies.”  –pp. 159-160

Introducing Filmakers Library

Check out FILMAKERS LIBRARY, a multidisciplinary international collection of over 1,400 documentaries, 1974 to the present. The collection, from Alexander Street Press, can be streamed via computer and is a growing one (8 titles from 2014 so far).

“Topical coverage is diverse and relevant across the curriculum—anthropology, race and gender studies, human rights, globalization and global studies, multiculturalism, international relations, criminal justice, the environment, bioethics, health, political science and current events, psychology, arts, literature, and more. Titles originate from independent filmmakers and prominent producers alike. Select content partners include HBO, CBC Learning, BBC, the Dramatists Guild, Journeyman Pictures, and IFC Films/Sundance Selects. Newly added, exclusive titles from Oscilloscope Films, First Run Features, and Zeitgeist Films include award winners and film-festival favorites, all hand selected for their caliber and relevance to academic audiences.” —Publisher’s description   
Navigating the database is a delight with the flexible, intuitive interface that affords searching on words and phrases in the metadata as well as in “fulltext/transcripts.” Indeed, “live” transcripts run beside the video as it plays. I couldn’t help duck into Something Wonderful May Happen: New York School of Poets and Beyond, a refreshing distraction to have running in one’s office on a sober weekday!

These independent documentaries are on a wide range of browsable topics.  Titles of note for  communication studies include: Baghdad Blogger (2006), The Compassionate Eye: Horace Bristol, Photojournalist  (2007), Cyberwar in Egypt (2013), Cyberwar in China (2013), Ethnic Cleansing: The Media and World Opinion (2001), Primetime War (2000), No Sex, No Violence, No News  (2001), Reporting on the Times: The New York Times and the Holocaust (2013), Cinema Korea (2009), 30 Seconds of Gold: Advertising on Chinese TV (2006), The Machine That Made Us (2009), The Forgotten Man: Private Bradley Manning and the Wikileaks Controversy (2011), Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community (2002), Out of Print (2013), Indie Game (2012), What Killed Kevin? (2012), and Cybersex Addiction (2006).

I plan to make time soon for Fanny Bräuning’s No More Smoke Signals (2009), having seen the first few minutessmoke.

Synopsis: Kili Radio, the “Voice of the Lakota Nation,” is broadcast out of a small wooden house in the vast countryside of South Dakota. There, people converge to speak to the community about daily concerns and in doing so, strengthen their sense of identity. Daily existence on America’s poorest reservation is hard. We meet people like Roxanne Two Bulls, who’s trying to start over again on the land of her ancestors after a difficult life nearly destroyed by alcoholism; and Bruce, the white lawyer who for thirty years has been trying to free an American Indian militant who’s been fighting for equal rights for his people. Everything comes together at Kili Radio. Instead of sending smoke signals the radio station transmits its own signals across a vast and magnificent landscape with a delightful combination of humor and melancholy. We hear native hip hop and complaints about broken windshields. Some of their pride has been restored with the radio broadcast; the listeners now feel that it really is acceptable to be Lakota.


Communication and the Moon

Two interesting books came out this year relating to the moon.  marketingthemoonIn Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott, Richard Jurek (MIT Press, 2014), the authors give us a detailed account of the PR campaigns and subsequent media coverage of the Apollo missions. It is not only a well written book, it’s a beautiful book, full of photographs and  illustrations.

Joshua Rothman in the  New Yorker’s August review observes: “…If there was a central pillar to the Apollo P.R. effort, it was live television. Scott and Jurek chart the continual battle within NASA over live TV. On one side were the engineers and military types, who viewed onboard television cameras as an unnecessary addition to the mission payload, or even as an invasion of astronaut privacy. On the other side were the administrators and public-relations specialists, who argued that television was, in some ways, the point of the mission. To the pro-TV faction, the medium had an ideological meaning: when faced with opposition from the engineering team, Julian Scheer, NASA’s director of P.R., said, “We’re not the Soviets. Let’s do this the American way….CBS covered the Apollo 11 landing for thirty-two continuous hours; it set up special screens in Central Park so that people could watch in a crowd. Ninety-four per cent of TV-owning American households tuned in. Without television, the moon landing would have been a merely impressive achievement — an expensive stunt, to the cynical. Instead, seen live, unedited, and everywhere, it became a genuine experience of global intimacy.”

Then there’s No Requiem for the Space Age: The Apollo Moon Landings and American Culture by Matthew D. Trippe (Oxford University Press, 2014) which takes a more cultural view.  It looks at the space program through the lens of of cultural artifact such as movies, novels, rock albums, and religious tracts of the 1960s and 70s and proceeds to analyze why support for the NASA missions decreased throughout the 70s.  requiem One of the reasons had to do with the growing conflict between the more straightlaced-rational-military/scientific culture versus the more mystical-rebellious-skeptical of authority (including scientific) counterculture. NPR’s Robert Krulwich reviewing the book in his blog, Krulich Wonders (July 16, 2014), points out another of Tribbe’s explanations which I find even more interesting (at least it’s less obvious), one that has to do with rhetoric, which he devotes a whole chapter to.

“People, he thinks, were eager to hear what it was like to escape the Earth’s atmosphere, to travel weightlessly, to touch down on an alien planet, to be the first explorers to leave “home,” and too often (much too often), the astronauts talked about these things using the same words — “beautiful,” “fantastic” — over and over. If space exploration was to be a grand adventure, it needed explorers who could take us there, tell us how it felt, explorers who could connect with those of us who can’t (but want to) come along. Inarticulateness, Tribbe thinks, hurt the space program.”

Even if your research these days has no lunar bearings whatsoever, both books look like fascinating reads.


Wired’s Essential Reads and Feeds

Keeping up is beyond challenging, it’s practically impossible, yet try we must. Since we have this habit now of reading blogs and tweets and articles blogs and tweets are pointing to (sometimes a rewarding activity, sometimes not so much…) we like to think we are we tuned–in our limited time and fractured attention spans–to the right stuff, posts best suited to our interests.  But we probably aren’t and even if we are doing a pretty good job of exposing ourselves to the the smartest people and organizations, we could always make some tweaks to our “bullpens.” To that end check out Wired Magazine’s 101 Signals, their A-list of the best reporters, writers and thinkers on the internet, not just in technology but design, science, culture and business. I’m pretty sure you’ll be adding a few of these to your diet. I’m thinking, in the interest of de-cluttering, for every Wired suggestion that I choose to follow I may perform a corresponding un-follow action . How’s that for discipline!

You can read Wired here in the ASC Library in paper or access it from E-journals on the homepage.