Susan Douglas is one my favorite professors at the University(and not just because she was on Oprah), so I was excited to read a piece by her. She is big on the history of communication methods and the representation of women in the media.
ps her favorite LFO song is Girl on TV
Douglas talks about how radio allowed for listeners to flex their imaginations. Radio solely gives the listener an aural description go characters, scenery and action; it is left to the individual to fill in the rest. TV gives viewers everything that Radio leaves out. You can see where the characters are, their faces, their body language etc. I agree with her that allowing the imagination to roam free is important for people, but I think that TV has figured out ways to make viewers think in other ways. For example in Lost, there was a never ending stream of clues, red herrings, and easter eggs dropped weekly. Viewers could collectively talk about what they saw, compare notes on theories etc. ( Yes, Lost was a major let down in the end, but it did something different)
Making viewers think fills the need that radio left. It creates a dialogue. Viewers aren’t going to the symbolic water cooler to talk. Fandom crosses borders worldwide online. Douglas talks about how radio allowed for men to negotiate the changing notion of masculinity through amateur Ham radio communities. I think that this negotiation can be taken a step forward, people of all different religious and cultural backgrounds have the potential to bond over a fandom of some sort, be it a tv show, movie, or radio show.
Regardless of new technologies, radio has persevered. The only time that I ever really listen to the radio is when I’m driving. I like to be able to flip through a number of stations, however I hate it when I go from one station to another and the same exact song if playing on both. This plus the number of commercials on the radio is what driving young people away from traditional broadcast to streaming from their phones, and satellite radio.