Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Sociology

Academics

Importance of Radio

Posted on June 18, 2013

Janine Kopeski

Rob Rosenthal, an accomplished radio producer and teacher, came in my Visual Sociology class to discuss the importance of radio. What makes radio shows different than most media broadcast is that the audience can only hear the show, they cannot actually see anything except in their imagination. Therefore, the radio producers must make sure to blend sounds that are important to the story because the sound is what gives a radio show its edge. The interviewers for a radio show must record all the sounds organically meaning that the sounds must come from the people that they are interviewing in a natural setting. For example, one of the radio interviews that Professor Rosenthal had us listen to was of a man who would spend his days recording everything that he does on his typewriter, “Robert Shields, World’s Longest Diary”. The radio interviewer integrated the sound of the man’s typewriter and classical music (because that is what the man would listen to when he wrote on his typewriter). In order for the radio interviewer to get those sounds he had to record them from the typewriting man doing it himself. He couldn’t ask the man just to type on the typewriter but had to record the man when he was doing it himself. The same goes for the recording of the classical music; the interviewer recorded it when the typewriting man was playing his music on his own.

Radio is important because it gives the listeners a chance to hear the truth about people’s lives through recorded interviews. It also allows people to really listen to others stories and not to become distracted by what people look like. For instance, the audio clip called “Leaving a Mark” is an interview given by Emily Hsiao and she interviewed a freed prisoner who has a swastika tattoo. It turns out that the prisoner had no reason for getting the swastika tattoo aside from the fact that he thought it looked cool when he was younger. He actually now wants to get the tattoo removed. We can only hear the conversation between Emily and the prisoner but I felt that I could really just sit and listen to what the prisoner had to say without being distracted by what he looked like. The prisoner told Emily what he really felt about the tattoo and I was able to listen to the story without judging the prisoner because all I could hear was the recording of the interview. Radio shows allow an audience to listen to the people and the world around them. Listening is something that sometimes gets taken for guaranteed, but radio shows are a way to remind us why it is important to listen to what people have to say without judgment.

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