Once again, the Radio Studies Network can report that we have had an eventful year and are feeling as buoyant and dynamic as ever. In July, many of our network’s Steering Group and affiliates were welcomed at the Transnational Radio Forum, a four-day conference held in the beautiful Italian city of Prato; the European centre for Australia’s Monash University. The event was organized by a team led by Monash’s founding Head of School of Media, Film and Journalism, Dr Mia Lindgren. MeCCSA Radio Studies Network had co-sponsored the conference by contributing towards a keynote lecture given by Prof Kate Lacey, University of Sussex. We also supported the conference through a concerted social media marketing campaign.
Our Facebook and Twitter accounts have been a pivotal element in our strategy to not only consolidate the academic alliances and friendships we already have within the field here in the UK but to enhance our scholarly links and relationships worldwide. Adding this virtual yet personal dimension to our communications makes for a more engaging forum in which our members can exchange ideas, seek advice and share their experience, develop projects and even initiate new collaborations. It also means we are demonstrating and disseminating to wider publics what the network and MeCCSA are striving for and achieving. The network’s current Social Media and Marketing Officer, Dr Portia Ellis-Woods, remarks:
There was a significant increase in activity on our social media pages during the summer triggered by the Transnational Radio Conference. Live tweeting and regular post updates enabled network members and other interested parties to gain insights from panel presentations, keynotes and conversations as they were happening. Our social media presence at this conference meant that many of our followers unable to attend were nevertheless able to benefit from the live interaction and engagements between the conference delegates; it meant that they could ‘tune in’ remotely! Our network’s profile was enhanced too: on Facebook, likes rose from 205 to 225, follows from 214 to 233; on Twitter the figures are now up to 411, from 316. Overall the MeCCSA RSN pages are increasingly a place for current news and act as a promotional landing page that is regularly updated.
For the radio academic community this year there was some sad news. Not only have we lost an insightful and trusted authority on the industry, a respected teacher and mentor, but many have lost a dear friend, following the death of Bournemouth University’s Professor and Associate Dean (Global Engagement), Dr Guy Starkey. As well as there being international commemorations planned, a fact which indicates the reach of his influence, there will be a memorial seminar in February marking his contributions to academia, at the University of Sunderland, where he was previously a Professor of Radio and Journalism.
One of Starkey’s collaborations, a chapter from Radio Journalism (2009), was featured on the latest reading list for our Online Reading Group this term. This initiative is part of our ongoing commitment to support and encourage early career researchers and postgraduates in radio, audio and podcast studies. We have a friendly group of participants from not just the UK and Ireland but around the world. This means that as we all take turns to raise a point or make suggestions, some of us are relishing a cup of breakfast tea whilst others are supping their mug of bedtime cocoa! Selecting the readings for this online group means we are helping to identify and circulate both prominent and as-yet little-known academic work, taken from classic texts as well as contemporary publications. The group is open to newcomers and offers opportunities to broaden one’s knowledge of ideas, methods and research contexts. It also provides a safe place in which to practice critiquing and to develop one’s own writing skills:
There have been some scholarly articles featuring MeCCSA RSN published this year by members of the Steering Group. In Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media, there is a Chairs’ report on the work of the RSN in 2017 (Vol 16:1). Janey Gordon edited a symposium of papers from the two RSN-sponsored conferences in 2017, marking the 50th anniversary of BBC Local Radio in Journal of Radio and Audio Media (Vol. 25:2). Helen Gubbins (outgoing Deputy Chair, RSN) published a piece on Taylor & Francis’ Author Services blog about online reading groups. https://tinyurl.com/y9xvwwkv
Those of us attending the forthcoming annual MeCCSA conference in Stirling are looking forward to a busy few days with two RSN panels: Re-sounding Community Voices: Finding Meaningfulness in the Mundane and Digital Media Practice: Radio Voices and Authorial Control. And we are excited to announce that we have appointed an interim Deputy Chair, Pam Myers (University of West London), whose post is to be ratified at the annual networking lunch. This photograph was taken at last year’s successful and enjoyable conference.
Looking ahead to 2019, members of the RSN do so in the knowledge that our field is evolving and consolidating at the same time – evolving as we adapt and react to social, technological, economic and political realities, and consolidating in the sense that we share the belief that pursuing and propagating knowledge and understanding in the field of radio studies and related media practices is a worthwhile way to live.