chapter  1
15 Pages

Listening in the Digital Age

WithKate Lacey

Radio in the digital age is arguably becoming more prolifi c, more fragmented, more manipulable, more mobile, more global, more personal. It is carried on a wider range of platforms and is less diff erentiated from other media than it seemed to be in the analogue age. But through all these contradictory and complex changes, and across all the variety of formats, one of the key threads of continuity that sustains the defi nition of radio is the construction of a dispersed and privatized public through the act of listening. The act of listening itself, however, is rarely problematized. And yet listening, as a cultural practice, is also subject to change and re-defi nition. This means that we do not just listen diff erently in diff erent times and places, but that the way in which listening is experienced, and how it is confi gured and valorized as an activity in the public sphere is historically contingent. Listening is not changed by media technologies, but it does change in relation to changing technological constellations. And so the question arises about how to make sense of the continuities and changes in listening as radio rides its latest wave.