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Are you still a radio deejay if you just text?

What is Radio conference banner - the University of Oregon at Portland.


This Thursday the What is Radio conference begins in Portland, and Radio Survivor will be there. Both Jennifer Waits and I are presenting papers. Expect some blogging about the conferences activities too.

My paper is titled “The rise of the radioText” deejay, and wonders out loud whether it is possible to function as a radio deejay without speaking, that is, to interface with one’s listeners via text messaging and text chatting only. Most texting and IRC style chatboarding in radio today comes in hybrid form. Take for example UC Santa Cruz college radio station KZSC’s chat feature, or of San Francisco’s chatterbox widget.

Radio Valencia chatterboxBut some of it is entirely text based—a service like comes to mind with its very busy music room chat boards, or Radio Reddit’s IRC chat feature.

In my paper I write:

Do these innovations substantially differ from on air deejays who deploy, say, a Facebook announcement page? I think that to some degree they do. They take deejay conversation far away from the realm of the human voice, replacing it entirely or in part with a text based discussion. They decentralize the deejay. He or she often becomes a collective of discussants, rather than a single individual.


As texting more and more approximates the pace of the human voice, the big question is whether “radioText” approximates the deejay voice. I think that to some degree it does. Your thoughts are welcome.

Pictures to above right and below, in order: chatterbox,, KZSC chat, and Reddit Radio IRC.

KZSC chat.

Reddit Radio IRC chat


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2 Responses to Are you still a radio deejay if you just text?

  1. Derek Hoyle April 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    While admittedly I’m ‘old school’ starting in radio 30 years ago, and I don’t text, I do pay attention to current trends in communication (thank you KFJC), and I’m not sure how a broadcast DJ could be putting together a live mix and still have the time for meaningful ‘live’ texting at the same time without the flow of the mix suffering.

    I see it the same as too long a listener call, it interrupts one’s flow, but then, as I said, I don’t text, so I’m open to other views here.

    Aside from that question, I totally believe that someone who texts can develop a familiar identity via that medium, I see it as no different than voice in the sense that one whom texts regularly will develop their own recognizable style.

    Similar to the old Morse Code operators who using only a code key (Dot . Dash – ), developed their recognizable styles, or “hands”.

    Further, since texting appears to be the medium of choice for many, than it’s only human nature to adapt to using that medium for communication.

    Humans want to communicate, and throughout history any medium possible has been used to facilitate communications due to local or other circumstances, so using a text based medium for the DJ to reach-out to their audience is only human nature.

  2. april November 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    im still radio deejay…

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