Radio Waves: Network Building and the Making of Modern Europe.

Why should the radio matter to us in the 2020s? What could the distant crackle of a short-wave broadcast possibly have to tell a gamester in 2023 about her attachment to the latest Xbox release? Is a teenager seriously to understand that his desire to curate a profile on Instagram has its roots in an analogue medium? Many have come to think of those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s – the ‘Gen Zers’ – as digital natives, attuned from birth to the complexion and mechanisms of a virtual media ecology. So much so that it may feel right to declare that all those predictions about the ‘global village’ have come true, and that a medium as dedicated as the radio has been to extending just one of the human senses is well and truly defunct. Rewind sixty years and ask a media historian: in 1964, busying himself with Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan was happy to forecast a cool and decidedly televisual future. In contrast to TV, McLuhan claimed, radio ‘doesn’t invite the same degree of participation in its users. Radio will serve as a background-sound or as noise-level control, as when the ingenious teenager employs it as a means of privacy. TV will not work as background. It engages you. You have to be with it’ (1964: 332).

The project hosted on this website – Radio Waves – advances on the premise that McLuhan was mistaken about the medium’s waning significance. Having commenced in 2023, a small team of literary and cultural historians at the University of Padua is gathering evidence of several kinds in order to demonstrate that broadcasting in the years following the Second World War was not only more versatile, adaptable and ‘involving’ than McLuhan thought it ever could be, but that it played a formative role in shaping what we know today as modern Europe. By attending on a granular level to the evolution of three radio cultures – that of Britain, of Greece, and of Italy – Radio Waves is investigating the extent to which broadcasting after the war was harnessed by many different parties as a means of liberation, control, and reconstruction; it was a means of energising culture on a number of scales – regional, national, international – and of mediating therefore the ways ideological agenda such as decolonisation and the unification of a European bloc could be made legible and meaningful for all manner of listeners.

6 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Kasia Boddy Reply

    This sounds fascinating – I look forward to seeing how the project develops!

    • Edward Allen Reply

      Thank you, Kasia! Our blog is now underway – under the ‘Radio Bites’ section – which will enable us to present some of our findings and thoughts over the next few months.

    • Edward Allen Reply

      Thank you for having a look at our project, Thomas. Your work on the Radio Spectrum Archive is terrific! Pleased to have made contact with you.

  2. Opia Reply

    This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post.

    Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!

    • Ester Lo Biundo Reply

      Thank you so much for your interest in our project and joining our feed, Opia! Keep on watching this space.

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