Ex-static but not Ecstatic: Digital Radio and the End of Interference
Authors: Karathanasopoulou, E.
Editors: Starkey, G., Oliveira, M. and Stachyra, G.
Conference: ECREA Radio Research Section: Radio the Resilient Medium
Dates: 11-13 September 2013
Journal: Radio: The Resilient Medium
Publisher: Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies
Place of Publication: Sunderland
Since its beginnings radio has struggled to rid itself of interference, which was regarded as a nuisance and a threat to its messages. Mainstream radio broadcasting, especially, has focused on delivering spotless, studio-quality sound with digital technology being at the centre of its development. This paper argues that it is time to reconceptualise ‘interference’, to consider it not as an impairment of radio’s messages but, more inclusively, as an integral part of its special texture. In a curious way, it has contributed to radio’s authenticity and its status as a medium of magic and intimacy and in that sense it performs an aesthetic role. Drawing upon radio theory as well as wider media and cultural studies, this paper will be looking at the positive functions and implications of interference as well as its connection with issues of space, both physical and imagined. With digital radio becoming ever more popular and the end of analogue in prospect, this paper argues that the transition involves a degree of loss as well as gain. Will radio ever be the same without the on-air meetings and clashes between broadcast sounds? What will on air mean if we can no longer detect broadcasting’s interaction with the physical space and objects around it? Is the digital domain a lonely space compared to the analogue radiophonic ether?