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Music, Radio and the Public Sphere: The Aesthetics of Democracy [Hardcover]

Charles Fairchild

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Book Description

Aug. 7 2012 0230390501 978-0230390508

Radio remains one of the most popular mediums through which people experience music. Yet there have only been a few studies examining the dynamic effects of radio on music. In this innovative study of community radio, Charles Fairchild uses a novel combination of critical analysis, interdisciplinary theory and ethnographic writing to compare commercial and community radio institutions and practices. By situating community radio in the dominant context of consumerism, Fairchild shows how people can create democratic discourses by speaking through other people's music. He argues that the social relations produced by playing music on the radio, and the inherent ambiguity of music itself, hold the potential for cultural democracy. The book shows how community radio's aesthetic practices accord with the ideals of an open and equitable public sphere, contributing to civil society and a potentially democratic aesthetics in which the "old medium" of radio holds profound lessons for "new media."

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"This monograph offers a theoretical intervention into and a detailed analysis of the democratic space opened by community radio against the backdrop of commercialism and corporate power typically associated with the music and radio industries. As the author explains, a scathing critique of the commercial music and radio systems alone would not reveal the democratic potential of these popular forms, and the book's attention to the democratic aesthetics of community radio addresses this critical question persuasively." - Bethany Klein, University of Leeds, UK

About the Author

CHARLES FAIRCHILD is Senior Lecturer in Popular Music, University of Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Pop Idols and Pirates (2008) and Community Radio and Public Culture (2001). He has published articles in journals such as Popular Music, Media, Culture & Society and Television and New Media. 

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