The sounds of radio : on radio as an auditive means of communication
Abstract: The primary purpose of this doctoral thesis is to present a theoretical framework for analysis of communication through radio, taking the sounding dimension of the medium as a primary characteristic. My theoretical approach is manifold, but I explicitly use writings from the field of ethnomethodology/microsociology (linguistic communication) of Alfred Schutz (sociology of everyday life) and Gerhard Maletzke (mediated communication). My work builds on conceptual analyses of texts on radio output and listening, including German Hörspiel, more recent British semiotic writings, analyses of formatted radio, linguistic analyses of radio speech, and a number of qualitative studies of radio listening mainly from the Nordic countries. I deal with the whole range of the means of expression used for communication through radio - speech, music and nonverbal elements - and attempt to cover radio listening both as a primary, a parallell, and as a secondary activity.The thesis is divided into two major parts: the first and primary part developing the theoretical framework and related concepts, and the second applying parts of this framework to a minor empirical study of Swedish radio output. The empirical material covers formatted music stations, entertainment programmes and speech radio, both from public service channels and commercial stations. The focus is on the relation between radio as a provider of programmes with its flow; forms and content, and meaningful ways of listening to radio. In the theoretical part of the thesis I elaborate concepts aimed to cover 1) different ways of listening: radio listening as a primary activity, listening as a secondary activity and listening as a parallel activity; and 2) characteristics of the radio output understood as taking place in two dimensions - simultaneously and successively. The material in the empirical part is mainly analysed from the point of view of 1) sequentialisation and signalling of coherent units and 2) the complexity of simultaneously occurring sounds. Radio, as a medium directed solely to the ear, enables the listener to engage in other parallel activities. However, it is obvious that, depending on the design of the radio output, it fits more or less well into different kinds of activities. The results point in the direction of obvious differences, but also similarities, between the stations represented in the material, as well as between individual programmes from one particular station, clearly indicating assumed ways of listening and thus also of assumed possible parallel activities.
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