Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Praise for Radio

I would have to disagree with Joshua in that TV is the more honest media when compared to radio. As Susan Douglas, made clear in "Listening In.." radio allows the listener to be active rather than passive. TV allows mental activity only to a certain extent while radio leaves a great range of imaginary freedom for the individual . TV limits the ways in which we can use our minds to create settings, peoples, and detailed reactions by doing it for us in the form of the images. It does the thinking for us, robbing us of creating ourselves, and thus our own identities.

As Douglas says: "listening to radio... forged powerful connections between people's inner, thinking selves, other voices, from quite faraway places." People are simply more mindful when listening to radio. They create imagined communities and feel more of a sense of belonging with the knowledge that they are listening along with many others at the exact same moment. With televison, this sense of belonging is only possible through "Live" broadcasting which has progressively become limited with pre-taped shows and digital video recorders like Tivo that are becoming commonplace in American households. Also, I believe there is greater room for deceit on television with all the make-up, acting, and greater variety of "props" that could be used to lure the viewer into not thinking for themselves. There is simply more value and depth to listening to radio rather than watching television especially in today's times where we are bomabarded with images and information to such a great extent.


  1. Hi Lizeth. Wow, Douglas is getting the lion's share of response this week! You've brought up two important terms that we should continue to discuss in section tomorrow, 1) "imagined communities" (which Douglas is actually borrowing from Benedict Anderson), and 2) the idea of "liveness." Part of radio's appeal, for Douglas, is this quality of intimacy and real interaction with a broadcast personality and fellow listeners. Do you think the same could be said of shows filmed with "live" studio audiences (e.g. The Daily Show)? Does this explain the popularity of talk shows and morning news magazines (like The Today Show)?

  2. Lizeth,

    Your comments on Douglas' piece (as well as the previous posts) made me think of Walter Benjamin's essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." (Something that was brought up by Josh Jackson in MS 101).

    Apart from whether or not television and radio are "honest" or "dishonest" or which engages individuals more, I think there's something to be said about the fact that television fundamentally takes us places by showing us to them.

    To be extremely rudimentary, Benjamin talks about how pieces of artwork have a special presence in space and time, and how mass production makes these pieces of art (such as the Mona Lisa) available to more people. Extending this to television or perhaps visual images in general, one could say that the act of seeing is empowering because you can see the Mona Lisa and view the Earth from outer space, even if you don't have the resources to be physically present in front of them.

    To share a personal anecdote, I once wrote an essay about the symbolism of snow in a literary novel. However, I have actually never seen real snow in my life. This would have posed a major problem if I had not seen films and movies with falling snow - without the visual images, it would have been very difficult for me describe the significance of snow, despite whatever descriptions that I had previously heard or even read about.

    Of course, one could always complicate this further - as Alenda brought up in an earlier comment, a big question in terms of visuality is if what is depicted is "reality," but that's an entirely different "can of worms." However, I think it can be said that as two forms of mass media, both radio and television always offer certain acts of interpretation that don't necessarily clash with each other, but can complement each other, as I have experienced.