Three-D Issue 34: Radio Studies Network

Janieann McCracken
University of Stirling

Brighton seems a long time ago now and a very different place! In our network meeting there we welcomed new members to our steering committee bringing a variety of different research interests. These were Jerry Padfield (Doctoral Student at The University of Falmouth), and Dario Llinares (Principal Lecturer in the School of Media, University of Brighton). These interests have been reflected in some of the work the network has done over the last few months. As the landscape alters and shifts with the country reacting to Coronavirus and our government’s response, academics too have had to change their research plans and teaching schedules on an almost weekly basis. I’m pleased to say that despite all this, our network has taken the opportunity to explore the impact of Covid-19 on community radio stations, to expand and grow our popular ECR and PG Reading Group, to explore a range of texts from BAME academic colleagues for review and discussion and to initiate our very first Podacademic discussion group.

The changing circumstances caused by the UK-wide lockdown at the end of March were felt acutely in the radio and broadcast industries. A research project conducted by steering committee member, Jo Coleman, entitled “Digital Technologies in Community Radio Production Practices: responding to COVID-19 social distancing measures”, sought to ascertain how, and the extent to which, stations were able to successfully adapt and continue broadcasting as the crisis ensued. There is a fuller article in this issue of Three-D. RSN members have also been taking a scholarly interest in recent reports of the growth of commercial radio in the UK – achieving its highest ever total reach in the first quarter of 2020; 36.3m (vs the BBC’s 33.5m).

Our online reading group has continued throughout this time, discussing international Community Radio in articles by Dr Emma Heywood (University of Sheffield), Dr Paula Serafini (University of Leicester) and Rute Correia (ISCTE Lisbon). New steering committee member, Jerry, is now running the scheme with our colleague Kim Fox (American University in Cairo) and they have initiated an extension of the group involving online Q&As with the selected authors. Next term they have selected texts from BAME authors for review and discussion. With the postponement of conferences and indeed our own conference in 2021, online discussions like this provide vital opportunities to engage with the research and teaching practices of others, to share best practice and be inspired to try new approaches. With this in mind, we have made these reading group Q&As available via our new MeCCSA Radio Studies Network YouTube channel.

RSN has always had an active social media presence and this in turn has led to an increasing interest in podcasting and its use in academia. With many members both teaching and producing in this area it was inevitable that interest in its research would follow. As several Twitter threads converged, recently we saw the first Podacademic online chat; with discussions around podcasts as dissertation, peer-reviewed academic podcasts and podcast metadata.

Thus our role in promoting research and encouraging dialogue and collaboration has flourished during lockdown. Looking ahead, August sees the start of a new 5×5 sandbox series, an alternative to Pecha Kucha, giving radio and audio studies participants the opportunity to share their research projects and plans as we hopefully move to more settled times.

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