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What if history had a sound track? What would it tell us about ourselves? Based on a thirty-part BBC Radio series and podcast, Noise explores the human dramas that have revolved around sound at various points in the last 100,000 years, allowing us to think in fresh ways about the meaning of our collective past.

Though we might see ourselves inhabiting a visual world, our lives have always been hugely influenced by our need to hear and be heard. To tell the story of sound—music and speech, but also echoes, chanting, drumbeats, bells, thunder, gunfire, the noise of crowds, the rumbles of the human body, laughter, silence, conversations, mechanical sounds, noisy neighbors, musical recordings, and radio—is to explain how we learned to overcome our fears about the natural world, perhaps even to control it; how we learned to communicate with, understand, and live alongside our fellow beings; how we've fought with one another for dominance; how we've sought to find privacy in an increasingly noisy world; and how we've struggled with our emotions and our sanity.

Oratory in ancient Rome was important not just for the words spoken but for the sounds made—the tone, the cadence, the pitch of the voice—how that voice might have been transformed by the environment in which it was heard and how the audience might have responded to it. For the Native American tribes first encountering the European colonists, to lose one's voice was to lose oneself. In order to dominate the Native Americans, European colonists went to great effort to silence them, to replace their "demonic" "roars" with the more familiar "bugles, speaking trumpets, and gongs."

Breaking up the history of sound into prehistoric noise, the age of oratory, the sounds of religion, the sounds of power and revolt, the rise of machines, and what he calls our "amplified age," Hendy teases out continuities and breaches in our long relationship with sound in order to bring new meaning to the human story.

Radio in the Global Age offers a fresh, up-to-date, and wide-ranging introduction to the role of radio in contemporary society. It places radio, for the first time, in a global context, and pays special attention to the impact of the Internet, digitalization and globalization on the political-economy of radio. It also provides a new emphasis on the links between music and radio, the impact of formatting, and the broader cultural roles the medium plays in constructing identities and nurturing musical tastes.

Individual chapters explore the changing structures of the radio industry, the way programmes are produced, the act of listening and the construction of audiences, the different meanings attached to programmes, and the cultural impact of radio across the globe. David Hendy portrays a medium of extraordinary contradictions: a cheap and accessible means of communication, but also one increasingly dominated by rigid formats and multinational companies; a highly 'intimate' medium, but one capable of building large communities of listeners scattered across huge spaces; a force for nourishing regional identity, but also a pervasive broadcaster of globalized music products; a 'stimulus to the imagination', but a purveyor of the banal and of the routine. Drawing on recent research from as far afield as Africa, Australasia and Latin America, as well as from the UK and US, the book aims to explore and to explain these paradoxes - and, in the process, to offer an imaginative reworking of Marshall McLuhan's famous dictum that radio is one of the world's 'hot' media.

Radio in the Global Age is an invaluable text for undergraduates and researchers in media studies, communication studies, journalism, cultural studies, and musicology. It will also be of interest to practitioners and policy-makers in the radio industry.

Radio Four has been described as 'the greatest broadcasting channel in the world', the 'heartbeat of the BBC', a cultural icon of Britishness, and the voice of Middle England. Defined by its rich mix, encompassing everything from journalism and drama to comedy, quizzes, and short-stories. Many of its programmes - such as Today ,The Archers, Woman's Hour, The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy, Gardeners' Question Time, and The Shipping Forecast - have been part of British life for decades. Others, less successful, have caused offence and prompted derision. Born as it was in the Swinging Sixties, Radio Four's central challenge has been to change with the times, while trying not to lose faith with those who see it as a standard-bearer for quality, authoritativeness, or simply 'old-fashioned' BBC values. In this first major behind-the-scenes account of the station's history, David Hendy - a former producer for Radio Four - draws on privileged access to the BBC's own archives and new interviews with key personnel to illuminate the arguments and controversies behind the creation of some of its most popular programmes. He reveals the station's struggle to justify itself in a television age, favouring clear branding and tightly-targeted audiences, with bitter disputes between the BBC and its fiercely loyal listeners. The story of these struggles is about more than the survival of one radio network: Radio Four has been a lightning rod for all sorts of wider social anxieties over the past forty years. A kaleidoscopic view of the changing nature of the BBC, the book provides a gripping insight into the very nature of British life and culture in the last decades of the twentieth century.
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