A Cultural History of Radio-Internet Convergence
In talking about contemporary media, we often use a language of newness, applying words like “revolution” and “disruption.” Yet, the emergence of new sound media technologies and content—from the earliest internet radio broadcasts to the development of algorithmic music services and the origins of podcasting—are not a disruption, but a continuation of the century-long history of radio. Today’s most innovative media makers are reintroducing forms of audio storytelling from radio’s past.
Sound Streams is the first book to historicize radio-internet convergence from the early ’90s through the present, demonstrating how so-called new media represent an evolutionary shift that is nevertheless historically consistent with earlier modes of broadcasting. Various iterations of internet radio, from streaming audio to podcasting, are all new radio practices rather than each being a separate new medium: radio is any sound media that is purposefully crafted to be heard by an audience. Rather than a particular set of technologies or textual conventions, web-based broadcasting combines unique practices and features and ideas from radio history. In addition, there exists a distinctive conversationality and reflexivity to radio talk, including a propensity for personal stories and emotional disclosure, that suits networked digital media culture. What media convergence has done is extend and intensify radio’s logics of connectivity and sharing; sonically mediated personal expression intended for public consideration abounds in online media networks.
Sound Streams marks a significant contribution to digital media and internet studies. Its mix of cultural history, industry research, and genre and formal analysis, especially of contemporary audio storytelling, will appeal to media scholars, radio and podcast practitioners, audio journalism students, and dedicated podcast fans.
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