Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughts On Susan Douglas' Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination

Douglas' essay on radio is an enjoyable read, taking us on a historical journey of radio highlighting the nostalgia element the media evokes for so many, yet she seems disconnected from the innovative radio and television that is pulsing today in our country. What I wonder is how can she write about radio then and now (she does mention NPR) without mentioning KCRW, the non profit radio station that acts as the heart and soul of our sister city, Los Angeles, and our entire nation? She misses out on a whole culture of young and older generations who tune in to hear new music, books reviews, restaurant reviews, news and storytelling segments. Radio is not as obsolete of a media form post TV as she depicts. I listen to KCRW for the exposure to new music, the storytelling, the trips to the farmer's markets. Segments like Ira Glass' "This American Life" and "The Moth" storytelling series bring to life the lives of many Americans in an un-glossed manner, which harken back to a pre-radio age, when we told stories by the fire. If that isn't nostalgia, I don't know what is.

As for Douglas' criticism of television and how its rise has "stunted American imagination" I would argue that the best writing coming out of our fair nation is not through film, but rather through television. Across genres, television today is far exceeding the quality of our mainstream films. Has Douglas seen an episode of The Wire? Treme? Breaking Bad? Those are newer examples of the fine writing and acting on television, but television has been on the rise for quite some time. Of course, for every creative genius of a show there are a dozen brain cell murdering reality television shows. We all admitted to some form of it in our last class. With the tsunami of media today, it is more important than ever to streamline your exposure to debasing entertainment. For that reason, I have no television. I watch films and television series I am interested in rather than channel surfing and ending up watching something that will make me feel dirty in the morning. On that note, check out!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for giving us a contemporary example of a thriving local radio station, Nora. (Side note: you can create a functioning link in your post using one of the buttons in the top-right of the formatting bar. Unfortunately, for comments, you need to use HTML.) Here's a working link to KCRW.

    In this era of Spotify and Pandora, I think it's less and less likely that people are tuning in to listen to specific radio programs at specific times (just like it's more and more rare to sit down to watch a television show when it is originally aired). For many, radio is something to accompany a commute to and from work, or the "muzak" you hear while getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist. But that said, NPR is a treasure.