University of Sheffield
World Radio Day on 13th February this year was yet another milestone celebrating the importance of radio as a global source of vital information and entertainment. Over the course of the pandemic, radio has increased its listenership acting as a constant support in these challenging times. With no need to social distance, radio can be that missing friend providing company, smiles and laughs, keeping people in touch with the outside world but also acting as reliable source of news.
The centrality of radio has given the Radio Studies Network plenty to work on and, with its active social media presence, our network continues to grow. We have a new leadership team with Chair and Vice Chair going to Emma Heywood (Sheffield) and Alex Kocic (Edinburgh Napier) respectively, and we have created a new role for Jerry Padfield (Falmouth) – ECR Development Officer – to reflect the significance of our Reading Group in encouraging PG and ECR engagement with radio studies. Jo Coleman (Brunel), our former Chair, becomes Communications Officer to reflect her key contribution to the network’s ongoing success.
Our online reading groups continue to run throughout the pandemic with 4 international academic papers for discussion per term, with two terms per year. The group recently took inspiration from BLM to highlight work by BAME academics, including Kim Fox and Hayes Mabweazara. A new Q&A initiative is providing authors of papers with the opportunity to engage with reading group members and discuss ideas from the initial discussion. These are recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpG3x9SuiEs-ZVI6enF7vEg). So far, the group has engaged with Rute Correia and Paula Serafini and more Q&As are planned for the spring. Given the continued absence of face-to-face conferences and workshops, these groups provide a popular and welcome environment to meet, discuss and engage with the work and practices of others.
Activities have been extended to include 5×5 Sandbox events where academics talk about their research for 5 minutes with 5 slides. This is yet another popular and timely opportunity to network and receive feedback on research ideas. The network strives to diversify the content and attendance of these events by featuring work from the Global South and by meeting at different times to make it easier for people to join from around the world. Additional information on our schedule and how to attend is at: https://radiostudiesnetworkreadinggroup.wordpress.com or on Twitter (@RadioStudies).
We also congratulate Jo Coleman (Brunel) on the very recent publication of her book entitled Digital Innovations and the Production of Local Content in Community Radio which is part of the Routledge Disruptions series https://www.routledge.com/Disruptions/book-series/DISRUPTDIGJOUR. Janey Gordon (Bedford) is also representing radio on a panel with DCMS, examining the impact of the pandemic on traditional forms of listening. This important research is being conducted with the Community Media Association and using RAJAR. There is a particular emphasis on BME listening habits. A report will be published in spring. Reflecting the global scope of UK scholarship in radio studies, Emma Heywood (Sheffield) continues her ongoing West Africa research working on a new Elrha-funded Covid project examining the use of radio and social media to address misinformation about Covid-19 amongst Internally Displaced Persons in Burkina Faso.
Radio Studies Network continues to promote research and encourage dialogue in these trying times. Not only is radio becoming an integral part of our lives as we live through the pandemic but radio studies and its network, from both academic and practical perspectives, continue to flourish too.