Instructor: Dr. Sean Graham

Course Description:

This course will explore the way in which the radio has been used through the 20th century. From its origins in nautical communications to the central outlet for popular culture to a secondary medium reserved largely for conservative pundits, radio has evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of the listening public. Throughout the century, radio announcers struggled to earn their listeners’ trust. Once it was earned, however, radio personalities became some of the century’s most influential cultural and political figures. At times that trust has been abused, however, and has served as a reminder that listeners must remain vigilant and critical of what they are hearing on radio.

To explore these dynamics, students will examine radio’s growth and evolution through the 20th century. This will include sound and audio theory to assess what makes a successful program, engaging in a material examination of the physical device itself, as well as listening to old programming in order to fully appreciate how broadcasts sounded through the century. Through the course, students will directly engage with primary sources, including audio, text, and physical. Students will also have the opportunity apply the course material through experiential learning by producing their own radio program.