Re-Imagined Radio is a research project led by John F. Barber, faculty with The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver, that re-imagines retro-radio dramas from the 1930s-1950s as live contemporary storytelling performances. The focus of each performance is seeing, hearing, and participation.
By seeing, audiences are aware of processes and techniques for producing live radio dramas.
By hearing, audiences reconnect with lost sound experience(s), fostered by radio, that can focus their imaginations like no other mass media.
And through participation, audiences are reminded of the power and pleasure of shared engagement with others.
A number of research inquiries inform this creative practice, and provide an evolving conceptual framework, as well as a growing list of outcomes. This node provides access to these inquiries, the information they provide, and listening opportunities.
Begun in 2013, Re-Imagined Radio considers how radio dramas and other programs from the so-called "Golden Age of Radio" (1930s-1950s) were originally created, communicated, and consumed as a form of storytelling, and how they might be re-imagined as live literary-media art and performance for contemporary audiences. Literary-media art and performance combines literary experiences (like writing, reading, speaking, and listening), media art (like digital sound and graphics and social media) to re-imagine radio as a medium for engaging, immersive, shared multimodal storytelling. LEARN more.
These inquiries consider different aspects of radio and sound art to inform the practices of Re-Imagined Radio.
Aural / Oral Stories
Two approaches for knowing through sound(s). One with people, the other with ambient sounds. LEARN more.
Radio combines dialogue, music, sound effects, and silence to spark listeners' imaginations. LEARN more.
Evolving underpinnings and framework for radio and sound research and creative practices. LEARN more.
As a research project, Re-Imagined Radio explores how scripted dialogue, sound effects, music, silence, and imagination, the components of radio drama, can create and sustain an engaging narrative, a sequence of events experienced by listeners. Radio drama provides different narrative experiences, suspense, horror, historical, fantasy, for example. Direct engagement between sound(s) and listeners' imaginations prompts emotion, interaction, participation, and immersion.
Re-Imagined Radio investigates ways of understanding the creation and consumption of radio art and drama outside representation by text, code, and other formal systems associated with the ways "meaning" has been traditionally approached. Instead, this project considers classic and contemporary radio art and drama through its re-imagination and re-creation as live community performance and literary media art. This approach, called research-as-practice, action research, and/or practice-based research, combines research and creative practice to promote systematic inquiry conducted via practical action in order to devise or test new information and communicate knowledge. Specific research questions include . . .
- How, through their re-creation, might we understand live radio drama and other programs as a form of storytelling during the so-called "Golden Age of Radio" (1930s-1950s)?
- How might we re-imagine and re-present such programs for contemporary audiences, sophisticated in their use of multiple forms of digital media?
- How might these efforts inform best practices for creating engaging and immersive, live performance literary-media art (neé storytelling for the 21st century?
- How might these re-imagined performances inform our understanding of embodied, shared experience of sound as capable, even desirable, for conveying storytelling?
Re-Imagined Radio offers re-creations of radio dramas from the so-called "Golden Age of Radio," the 1930s-1950s, as live community performances. These performances are provided in parthership with community voice actors associated with Metropolitan Performing Arts, a non-profit organization nurturing live arts through education and performance opportunities in Vancouver, and Kiggins Theatre, a 1936 movie theatre in downtown Vancouver offering independent and classic cinema, and more.
Community voice actors, sound artists, musicians, singers, and other creative people help re-image live performances of radio dramas and other types of programs as community storytelling opportunities. Support comes from the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver.
Re-Imagined Radio promotes immersive auditory experiences for its audiences, rich with narrative opportunities. With the addition of Internet streaming and recording, Re-Imagined Radio reaches listeners separated by time and distance, unites them in the shared act of listening, and prompts consideration of whether radio art + transmission art = new mode for community storytelling?.
Although undertaken to satisfy the research requirements of Barber's position as university faculty, Re-Imagined Radio has as its mission to promote community engagement through radio art and performance. What is learned is believed helpful for how future forms of storytelling might be informed by our embrace of digital technology. Desired results: radio art, transmission art, community art. Radio as never before seen, or heard. Radio, an old medium, providing new opportunities for 21st century multimodal storytelling.
Information about publications and presentations from the Re-Imagined Radio research project.
Barber, John. "Preservation through Re-Creation: Re-Newing Radio as Community Storytelling." A Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal Conference, 22-24 Oct. 2020, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. (Accepted)
—. "The War of the Worlds Broadcast: Fake News or Engaging Storytelling?" Radio's Second Century: A Reader, edited by John A. Hendricks, Rutgers University Press, 2020, pp. 96-118.
Barber, John. "Future Radio and Social Knowledge Creation in the Humanities." Social Knowledge Creation in the Humanities, Vol. 2, edited by Aaron Mauro, Iter Press. (In press)
—. "Electronic Literature and Sound." Electronic Literature as Digital Humanities: Contexts, Forms & Practices, edited by James O'Sullivan and Dene Grigar, Bloomsbury. (In production)
—. "A Mighty Span: Sound, Practice, Community." Resonant Practices in Communities of Sound, SpokenWeb Symposium, 30-31 May 2019, Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Barber, John. Martians, Moustaches, and Radio Drama. A Case Study for Sound Art Curation by Re-Creation. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, vol. 33, no. 3, Dec. 2018.
Barber, John. Radio Art: A (mass) Medium Becomes An (artistic) Medium. Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, vol. 17, 2017. https://doi.org/10.20415/hyp/017. Rpt. in French translation as L'art Radiophonique: Histoire d'un Médium de Masse Devenu Médium Artistique, Appareil, vol. 18, 2017. Rpt. in Art Médium, Média, edited by Pascal Krajewski, L'Harmattan, 2018, pp. 209-226. ISBN: 978-2-343-13800-8.
—. Radio Nouspace: Radio, Sound, and Digital Humanities. Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, vol. 7, no. 1, 13 Oct. 2017. (See https://www.digitalstudies.org/collections/special/the-digital-humanities-summer-institute/) Rpt. in Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, vol. 8, no. 1, 28 Feb. 2018. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/dscn.275
—. "Broadcasting from the Barricades and Beaches: BBC Listeners and Producers Learn the Power of Radio." BBC and the World News Service: Debts & Legacies Conference, 3-4 Feb. 2017, King's College, London, England.
Barber, John. "Curation by Re-Creation: Innovative, New Knowledge Model for Classic Radio Drama." New Knowledge Models: Sustaining Partnerships to Transform Scholarly Production, INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments) Conference, 19 Jan. 2016, Whistler, BC, Canada.
Barber, John. Internet Radio and Electronic Literature: Locating the Text in Aural Narratives. ebr [electronic book review], 3 May 2014.
—. Future Audio Drama: Imagine the Possibilities. Audio Drama Seminar, 19-20 Aug. 2014, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. See Birmingham School of Media's Radio Blog.
—. "Radio: Local, Global, Collaborative, Mobile." ICA Mobile Preconference, 21-22 May 2014, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
—. "Sound Curation by Re-Creation: The War of the Worlds Radio (Re)broadcast, Martians with Mustaches: A Case Study and Suggestions." International Sound Arts Curation Series, 15-17 May 2014, Goldsmith's, University of London and The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England.
Barber, John. Audiobiography: 1960s: A Sonic Memoir. Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion, vol. 9, Apr. 2013.
—. "Internet Radio and Electronic Literature: Locating the Text in Aural Narratives." Electronic Literature Organization 2013 International Conference, 24-27 Sep. 2013, Paris, France.
—. "Internet Radio: Radio after the Future." What is Radio? Exploring the Past, Present, and Future of Radio Conference, 25-27 Apr. 2013, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Portland, OR.