Transgressing boundary rituals on radio

McMurtry, LG ORCID: 2022, 'Transgressing boundary rituals on radio' , in: The Routledge Companion to Radio and Podcast Studies , Routledge, London.

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One of the hallmarks of radio has always been its imaginative and immersive potential. From the 1920s on, listeners have frequently found broadcast reality/fiction to be problematic. Once boundary rituals were established, demarcating out for listeners where one program ended and another began and contributing to the concept of the schedule, such rituals could be transgressed. This frequently happened when carefully crafted fictional programming was framed to sound like news. This is the case with the most famous example, The Mercury Theatre of the Air’s ‘The War of the Worlds’ (Welles, O., Houseman, J., and Koch, H. (Writers). (1938, October 30). War of the Worlds [Radio program], The Columbia Workshop. New York, NY: CBS.). Such phenomena, however, are not confined to science fiction. Biting and surrealist radio satire On the Hour (Iannucci, A., and Morris, C. (Producers). (1990–1991). On the Hour [Radio series]. London: BBC Radio 4.) used the conventions of radio news to fool its audience. More recent forms like the podcast have exploited this transgression as well, many of them re-working the aesthetics established by WBEZ Chicago/PRI’s true crime/investigative journalism podcast Serial (Koenig, S., Chivvis, D., and Snyder, J. (Producers). (2014). Serial [Radio series]. Chicago: This American Life/WBEZ Chicago/Public Radio International), such as The Black Tapes (2015–), TANIS (2015–), and Lime Town (2015–). Soap operas, such as The Archers (1951–), have listeners who have chosen to interpret their storyworlds as a form of ‘truth,’ regardless of whether they represent factual reality. Throughout its existence, radio has been shaped by its unique ability to transgress of boundary rituals, which allows listeners a uniquely immersive experience that blurs the nature of reality.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Journal or Publication Title: The Routledge Companion to Radio and Podcast Studies
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781003002185
Depositing User: LG McMurtry
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2022 15:46
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 09:02

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