Fall 2019 Franke Lectures to examine ‘The Secret Life of Radio: Fringe Practices of a Mass Medium’

An old-timey radio

The Secret Life of Radio: Fringe Practices of a Mass Medium” is the topic of the fall 2019 Franke Lectures in the Humanities sponsored by the Whitney Humanities Center (WHC).

This semester’s lecture series has been organized in conjunction with the Yale College seminar taught by Brian Kane, associate professor in the Department of Music.

Susan Douglas will deliver the opening lecture, “From Jazz to Rock ’n’ Roll: Radio as a Turnstile between White and African-American Cultures,” on Monday, Sept. 23. 

Susan Douglas
Susan Douglas

Douglas is the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of “Celebrity: A History of Fame” (with Andrea McDonnell); “The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild”; “The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Undermines Women” (with Meredith Michaels); “Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination,” which won the Hacker Prize for the best popular book about technology and culture; “Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media”; and “Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922.” Her new book, “In Our Prime: How Older Women Are Reinventing the Road Ahead,” is forthcoming.

She has written for the Nation, In These Times, the Village Voice, Ms., the Washington Post, and TV Guide, and was media critic for the Progressive from 1992 to 1998. Douglas has appeared on the “Today Show,” the “CBS Early Show,” the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” CNBC’s “Equal Time,” and NPR’s “Fresh Air” and “Talk of the Nation,” among others. She is the 2009 recipient of the Leonardo da Vinci Prize, the highest honor given by the Society for the History of Technology to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the history of technology through research, teaching, publications, and other activities.

Other guest speakers and lectures in the series include:

Josh Shepperd, “From Activism to Advocacy: Media Reform Strategies in the Development of U.S. Public Media, 1934–1952,” Oct. 7

Josh Shepperd
Josh Shepperd

Shepperd is assistant professor of media studies at Catholic University and national director of the Library of Congress Radio Preservation Task Force. For 2018 to 2020 he is a Humanities and Information Fellow at Penn State University and the Sound Fellow of the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board.

His forthcoming book project, “Shadow of the New Deal: The Victory of Public Broadcasting,” examines the institutional origins of public media in advocacy work conducted by the media reform movement during the New Deal. In addition, Shepperd is coauthoring the official “History of Public Broadcasting” with Allison Perlman (University of California-Irvine) for Current and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

David Goren, “Tracing Neighborhoods in the Sky: Pirate Radio in New York City,” Oct. 28

David Goren
David Goren

A radio producer and audio archivist, Goren has created programming for the BBC, Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio, the Wall Street Journal Magazine, and NPR’s “Lost and Found Sound” series, as well as audio-based installations for Proteus Gowanus and the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective. In 2016, he was an artist-in residence at Wave Farm, a center for the transmission arts.

After several years researching New York City’s pirate radio community, he recently released “New York City’s Pirates of the Air” for the BBC World Service, “Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD” for KCRW’s “Lost Notes” podcast, and the “Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map,” which was featured in The New Yorker.

Galen Joseph-Hunter and Tom Roe, “Radio Out of Bounds: Artist Experiments with the Electromagnetic Spectrum,” Nov. 11

Galen Joseph-Hunter and Tom Roe
Galen Joseph-Hunter (right) and Tom Roe

Since Joseph-Hunter has served as executive director of Wave Farm, a non-profit arts organization driven by experimentation with broadcast media and the airwaves. Wave Farm’s programs — Transmission Arts, WGXC 90.7-FM, and Media Arts Grants — provide access to transmission technologies and support artists and organizations that engage with media as an art form. From 1996 to 2015 Joseph-Hunter worked closely with Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), serving as assistant director and then executive consultant. Over the past two decades, she has organized and curated exhibitions and events internationally, including “Wave Farm (in residence)” for TuftsPUBLIC at the Tufts University Art Galleries (2018-2019). She was the co-organizer of “Groundswell,” an annual exhibition event featuring broadcast, performance, sound, and installation works by contemporary artists, which was conceived within the 250 acres of the Olana State Historic Site from 2013 to 2015. She curated the Columbia University Sound Arts MFA spring exhibitions in 2015 and 2016. She has produced numerous radio programs for Wave Farm’s WGXC and stations internationally, including Climactic Climate for Kunstradio Vienna. Joseph-Hunter is the author of “Transmission Arts: Artists and Airwaves” and “Transmission Arts: The Air That Surrounds Us.”

Roe is the artistic director at Wave Farm. He is a sound transmission artist who performs with transmitters and receivers using multiple bands (FM, CB, walkie-talkie), as well as prepared CDs, vinyl records, and electronics. One of the original founders of free103point9, which is now Wave Farm, Roe has written about music for The Wire, Signal to Noise, and The New York Post, among others. His writing also appeared in “Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music.” Roe has led many “Radio Lab” education lectures and workshops, speaking about how to perform with transmitters and the history of radio performance and microcasting at venues such as Columbia University, Brown University, Brooklyn College, NYU’s ITP Program, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, among others. Roe’s weekly radio show “Donald Drumpf Theatre” is broadcast by over 30 stations.

All events will be held at 5 p.m. in Rm. 208 of the WHC and are free and open to the public.

The lectures are made possible by the generosity of Richard and Barbara Franke, and are intended to present important topics in the humanities to a wide and general audience.  

For more information, contact the Whitney Humanities Center at 203-432-0670 or email whitneyhumanitiescenter@yale.edu.

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