6 Pages

Introduction: Making Radio Strange

ByJason Loviglio, Michele Hilmes

A little more than a decade ago, we embarked on a project that was hailed at the time as a landmark in radio studies. The Radio Reader, a collection of essays on the past, present, and future of American radio, signifi ed to many readers that, at last, radio had achieved the status of a legitimate fi eld of study, on a par with the visual and literary arts, a medium in its own right. Radio had arrived. The authors whose work we selected for that volume hailed from a wide range of disciplines-American studies, history, literature, communication and media studies, cultural studies, political science, journalism-but all had discovered in broadcast radio a signifi cant cultural technology whose intersections with the broader currents of twentieth-century American history had for too long been ignored. However, as disparate as our backgrounds and individual interests were, all of us who contributed to that volume were confi dent that we knew what radio was: sound waves streamed over the electromagnetic spectrum, carried by an infrastructure of stations and networks and transmitter towers, pulled out of the air by the electronic devices in our cars and stereos and portable receivers: broadcast radio.