Radio / body

Author: Farokh Soltani

Radio / body draws from the philosophical discipline of phenomenology to question a number of prevalent ideas in radio theory and practice. The intention is to shift the basis for comprehending the experience of radio drama from theoretical systems such as semiotics, and abstract metaphors such as ‘visual imagination’ and ‘theatre of the mind’, towards a model that understands it in terms of perceptual, bodily experience of a holistic, graspable world. It posits that radio drama works because the sonic structure created through its dramaturgy expresses the perceptual experience of encountering the auditory world – a ‘listening to a listening’ – and radio dramaturgy can be understood as a process of structuring sounds that listen to the dramatic world. Using this insight, it is posited that conventional radio dramaturgy generates a mode of listening focused on the referential meaning of the sounds, rather than their affective qualities – this is labelled the semantic paradigm of British radio. The history of this paradigm is explored in depth, revealing its emergence to be the product of contingent cultural and technological factors. Now that these factors have changed radically due to the rise of digital technologies, it is argued that a paradigm shift is taking place, with a move towards a more bodily, more resonant dramaturgy.

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