‘Talk of the Town’ is a practice-based research project investigating how an internet-only radio station might be programmed to best serve its local audience(s) and make a positive contribution to community life.
Since around the turn of the 21st century there has been a shift of emphasis in media studies away from primarily textually deterministic approaches towards analysing the consumption and production of media as a set of practices.
This doctoral project dovetails with this shift in emphasis, yet does so with a distinct practice-based methodology which aims to further explore and analyse the ‘real experience’ of media – specifically radio – production and consumption. By physically, intellectually and emotionally engaging in the radio communities to be studied – as participant observer and then as active participant – the thesis seeks to encounter the practices of both producers and the consumers, providing invaluable insights and a ‘bottom-up’ perspective.
The aim is to develop a practice-based, ethnomethodological approach to explore the creative production practices of locally-specific programming for internet community radio. The practice element of the research will be to make, transmit and distribute on-line radio/audio packages that aim to resonate with a sense of place and reinforce a sense of belonging to the local community. To what extent that purpose is achieved will be critically considered, alongside wider issues of what ‘local’ and ‘community’ means in and to society today.
Jo is a graduate of Cambridge University, with an MA in Geography. She began her professional career in radio in 1987, in the marketing and public relations department of the Chiltern Radio network of independent local radio stations (on FM and AM) across the Home Counties and the West of England. In 1992 she joined a specialised-music radio station in London, Jazz FM. From 1994 she volunteered at and received hands-on training in public access (community) cable television and radio production, first in Northern Virginia, USA and then back in Hertfordshire, England. In 2001, she joined local BBC Three Counties Radio as a broadcast news journalist, producer and presenter. Following a stint at the National Film and Television School as Course Coordinator for the MA in Documentary Film-making, she studied for a Masters in the History of Film and (Audio-) Visual Media at Birkbeck; drawn irresistibly back to the realm of radio for her thesis: Hear Today … Gone Tomorrow: Radio docudrama in the Digital Age.