In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, writer Ben Fong-Torres devoted more than half of his radio column to the topic “What is Radio?” Prompted by an invitation to speak at the What is Radio? conference, Fong-Torres opted to write about the question in lieu of attending the event. I agree with Fong-Torres that it’s challenging to define radio. Despite that, he does a worthy job addressing the query by outlining radio’s strengths (it’s “intimate and immediate,”) as well as its weaknesses (in commercial radio “revenue is the only motivation”). He argues that radio is “at times annoying and self-destructive; other times, entertaining, enlightening and vital.”
It’s for those very reasons that I’m excited to be attending (and speaking at) the What is Radio? conference in Portland, Oregon in April, 2013. Hosted by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, the conference will,
“feature a unique coalescing of radio professionals, media scholars and students, government and community officials, as well as interested community groups and the public. The event will feature keynote speakers, roundtables, paper presentations, and other events, in an attempt to answer questions about the changing nature of radio.”
Very few academic conferences (with the notable exception of the Radio Conference: A Transnational Forum) concern themselves with the topic of radio, so this will be a great opportunity for radio scholars and radio enthusiasts to dissect the medium.
At the What is Radio? conference, I plan to speak about the history of radio at Haverford College and hope that it will illustrate not only the ever-changing nature of student radio, but also its ongoing relevance. Although the conference schedule is not yet posted, I’m excited to spend several days delving into the topic of radio. My Radio Survivor colleague Matthew Lasar will also be speaking at the conference, so you can be assured that we will not only keep you updated about the conference program, but we will also be reporting from the event.