You are on page 1of 12

Radio Production and Theory Plan:

No pronouns, no direct address, BU Harvard, proof read, logical constructions,


quotes in quotes, no contractions, no informal writing style, proof read, word count
and page numbers.

Critical Analysis: Discuss the development of broadcast talk on radio. What,


in your opinion, have been the main factors influencing changes in talk?

Main factors:

Original development of broadcast talk.

The reception of the audience demographics changing through time.

Post War social developments and movement away from social strata.

Loss of listeners at Radio 1 Blackburn to Evans.

Plan:

Abstract/Intro setting out the plan.

Scannell and the introduction of the concept of Broadcast Talk what is it?

Remember it is created with the intention to bridge public and private


discourses.

Tolson/Scannells 3 components: Liveness/spontaneity/intimacy

Evidence historical movement

BBC Matheson and the Talks department

Blackburn and pirate radio BBC

Evans and Zoo radio

Other countries? Germany pre war -


Broadcast Talk as the erosion of social deference and equalising of the styles
of social interaction between public and private (more so now with interaction
and the internet)

Dont forget about other bits of work comparison between UK and Germany
and the use of radio to keep indigenous languages. Language and society.

We inevitably start with Scannells work:

Broadcast talk Tolson building upon Scannells work identifies 3 key concepts:

Interactivity: Long held belief by BBC that audiences should be active listeners
were talking direct address conversational analysts suggest the adjacency pair
principle, some utterances conventionally expect a response and an engagement
from the listener. If this is a standard hello welcome to the show the lack of reply
could cause the listener to pay more attention due to the breach of expected speech
patterns. On the other hand it may introduce the concept of a place for possible
interaction a quasi- interactive situation (this is all Tolson pgs 9-10 in Media Talk).
From this perspective radio exists in a strange place within the home. It blends in
with the domestic life that surrounds it, either competing with other activities or
accompanying them. (pg 8 Media Talk, Tolson) So does the language of Broadcast
talk exist to accompany our lifes rhythms or does it vie for attention with everything
else using direct speech and attempts at empathy to keep our attention?

Perfomativity:

The mediated quasi interaction between host, guest and audience. Scannell states
that broadcast talk is meant to be overheard. While this is obviously the case with
the direct references to the audience by the presenter, it is also the case with the
interactions between the presenter and others involved in the show along with
those who have phoned in. Double Articulation re Scannell 2 simultaneous forms
of communication occurring the implied communication between the presenter and
his guests and the inferred communication between the discussion and the
audience. So, even though the discussion may sound like a typical discussion
between two people it has in fact been designed to be overheard by the mass
market audience. Interviewees know they are required to speak to two audiences,
not only to an immediate co-participant but also to the unseen audience out there.
And as fair as the latter is concerned, the pressure is on to come across, in other
words, to perform.

What historical research shows is that the new practices of Broadcast Talk
pioneered in the 1930s-1940s, did not initially come naturally and had to be
developed (Tolson pg 10) Broadcasters had to learn effective ways of
communication through a microphone. This was partly a technical matter of adopting
the right tone of voice for an intimate medium some of the earliest broadcasters
who were unused to this situation commented on the particular problem of
communicating with an audience you couldnt see One one level, any form of
public talk is a performancewhere the audience is co-present, it is possible to
adjust the performance to accommodate perceived reactions. Somehow, when those
reactions are absent, performativity becomes even more of an issue more self
conscious and reflexive (pg 10 tolson)

Liveliness (Tolson):

Though it is designed to sound spontaneous and everyday the vast amount of


radio is pre-recorded and scripted in order to create that feeling. Hilda Matheson
first Director of Talks was one of the first to understand the importance of making
scripted radio sound informal and spontaneous not like a lecture (key concepts in
radio studies, Chignell pg 10) and thus leading to the listener to turn off the radio.
The key point here is that, unlike dialogue in a play, the most interesting forms of
broadcast talk have a feel of spontaneity. As in most interviews, the speech seems
to be made up on the spot and is, to some extent, at least potentially, unpredictable.
(Tolson pg 11) Liveliness is most effective when the determinacy of a script is
concealed (ibid) Ellis states that the illusion of liveness is maintained by the
language used now, here, we and today but there is also the idea of the lack of
script the illusion of the spontaneity of performances which are not perceived as
acting. (Tolson pg 12) Producers wanted to give the impression of real life
conversation despite the creation of radio personae.

Tolson again pg 13 In the 1930s there were as many challenges facing the
producers of the scripts as there were for the performers behind the microphone.
Initially it was felt that scripted dialogue was necessary in case speakers, unfamiliar
with the demands of live broadcasting, dried up. It was also judged necessary to
script some working class speakers for fear of what they might say publicly. At the
same time, however, particularly where ordinary people were involved, it was
preferable that these scripts should reflect the pattern of every day speechthe
scripted approximation of everyday speech is not ordinary enough. Gradually it
seems that broadcasters have learned to adopt a lighter touch.

Pg 14 Tolson Para Social Interaction Horton and Wohl (1956) The audience, for
its part, responds with something more than mere running observation: it is, as it
were, subtly insinuated into the programmes action and internal social relationships
and, by dint of this kind of staging, is ambiguously transformed into a group which
observes and participates in the show by turns.

Pg 15 Tolson

Here the para-social relationships fostered by broadcasting are part of the general
cultivation of mediated relationships with absent otherswhich allow for the
development of intimacy at a distance. New forms of group identity. Imagined
community

Broadcast Talk: Scannell et al.

Introduction: The Relevance of Talk Scannell: pg 1-13

pg 1.
All talk on radio and TV is public discourse, is meant to be accessible to the
audience for whom it is intended. Thus broadcast talk minimally has a double
articulation: it is a communicative interaction between those participating in
discussion, interview, game show or whatever and, at the same time, is designed to
be heard by absent audiences.

Pg 2.

if you want people to listen or to watch your programmes you must make them
listenable to and watchable.

If the broadcasters are seemingly masters in their own domain there is, however,
one omnipresent consideration that compels them to treat their arrangements as
more than a purely internal matter and that is, of course, consideration for absent
viewers or listeners.

Pg 3.

The pivotal fact that the broadcasters, while they control the discourse, do not
control the communicative context.

The burden of responsibility is thus on the broadcasters to understand the


conditions of reception and to express that understanding in language intended to be
recognised as oriented to those conditions.

From the start it was recognised that listening and viewing took place in the sphere
of domesticity, within the spaces of the household and normatively in the small,
family living room.

It was recognised that broadcast output, though articulated in the public domain as
public discourse, was received within the sphere of privacy, as an optional leisure
resource. Within this sphere, as Matheson noted, people did not expect to be talked
down to, lectured or got at. They expected to be spoken to in a familiar, friendly and
informal matter (?) as if they were equals on the same footing as the speaker.

Pg 7

Broadcasting is an institution a power, an authority and talk on radio and


television is public, institutional talk, an object of intense scrutiny, that gives rise to
political, social, cultural and moral concerns.

a complicated struggle between the conflicting interests and attitudes of writers,


producers, administrators and audiences.

Pg 10

Scannell argues:

there has been a significant shift in the communicative ethos of broadcasting from
an earlier authoritarian mode to a more populist and democratic manner and style
the key moment of this transformation being the late 1950s to the late 1960s.

As Above:

10. Talk, Identity and Performance: The Tony Blackburn Show Graham Brand
and Paddy Scannell pg 201-226

Re: Blackburn show and identity

Pg 202

Broadcast programmes build identity through repetition and regularity via formatting
and scheduling.

Pg 203
Thus what began to be established was a familiar, regular pattern of daily output,
reproduced through the weeks and the months of the year that meshed in with the
day to day routines of the population.

Pg 204

Institutional identity is mediated through that of the shows host, and his or her
identity is mediated very largely through talk.

Brand and Scannell go on to discuss the communicative ethos of the Tony


Blackburn show by examining what is both said and not said on the show thus
showing how the language used creates a consistent identity for the show that the
audience identify. Pg 204

Pg 205.

To the performed personality of Tony Blackburn, the chattering DJ, was added the
real Tony Blackburn, the private individual. The dividing line between a professional
and a personal identity began to erode.

Pg 208

This melange of sound creates a specific audio environment of fun which


Blackburn himself endlessly reiterates

Pg 209

The discursive would of Blackburns show in multiple ways his editorial comment,
his preoccupation with sex as fun, his phone-ins, dating service and competitions
creates a tabloid radio equivalent of the Sun. Link to Evans show that followed with
Zoo radio the lad culture of the 90s and changing demographics speaking to the
audience.
Pg 210

One crucial resource is voice, and it is not difficult to hear several different voices
routinely deployed by Blackburn to signal momentary changes of footing in his own
discourse or in his interactions with audience members on the phone.

Pg 216

For listeners and callers the fun is optional: for its presenter it is not and this is why
Blackburn patrols its boundaries so carefully, since he alone must manage and
maintain the shows expressive idiom.

Pg 220:

The change from DJ voice to intimate voice keys the tone of the talk to be
initiated

Pg 222

This two-way talk underlines the ways in which the identity of the programme and its
presenter are in part interactively sustained by a dialogue between institution and
audience.

A Social History of British Broadcasting vol 1 1922-1939: Serving the Nation


Paddy Scannell and David Cardiff, Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1991.

Pg 166

Matheson had wanted to develop accessible, informal styles of talk for dealing with
serious issues, but this lapsed after a few yearsthe use of personal, populist style
seemed a breach of the conventions of learned discourse and argument. Only a
dispassionate, academic mode of presentation would legitimate and authenticate
what was being saidthe use of the personal style seemed to undermine the ethic
of impartiality, impersonal speech sounded more neutral.

Hilda Matheson first head of the Talks attempted to experiment with forms of
broadcast talk. This was blocked by a ban on controversy until 1928

Pg 167:

Speakers such as G.B. Shaw, G.K. Chesterton and Bertrand Russell were well
known as opinionated, witty public performers. Their speeches were scripted and, if
the results were often awkward, this was partly because the distinguished speakers
were unwilling to rehearse or consider the requirements of broadcasting.

Pg 168

The scripted discussion was used throughout the decade, but in 1935, greatly
daring, Talks ran a series of unscripted, impromptu debates before live audiences on
controversial topicsin part this venture seems to have been intended to counter
criticisms of BBC censorship.

The shackles of scripted speech were lifted from the studio discussion in a 1937
Talks series, Men TalkingIts producer, Roger Wilson, hoped that these
unrehearsed and unscripted discussions would reveal the way people felt about
subjects rather than a potted scientific analysis of the problem

Pg 171

The Talks Department was always more at home with public figures and men of
letters. It was less successful than other departments in bringing ordinary men and
women to the microphone, though not for want of trying. Referencing the show My
Days Work a scripted series where people described their routine Bill, a docker
finished his talk with the lines
It was somewhere in this reach of the river that David Copperfield said adieu to his
Mrs Peggotty and Mrs Gummidge, where little Emly waved her last farewell

The series, designed at first for the unemployed (Men Talking), gave rise to
objections from its audience. A listening group in Morecambe, for instance,
complained that, in a discussion on education, all the speakers appeared to belong
to the same minority group and evidently did not have children in state schools.

Pg 173

A departmental memorandum on Talks Standards, written by Norman Luker in


1938, divided listeners into three groups. Group A were intelligent and well
informed, and therefore needed to be catered for only occasionally. Group B were
the intelligent and not so well informed whom Luker identified as the most important
target for TalksGroup C, the largest part of the potential audience, included the
not-so intelligent and mostly uninformed who, because of their extreme simplicity
would only listen to adventure or personality talks.

Pg 176

The BBC was a middle-class institution, and it sounded like one, especially in
London. Its institutional voice, expressed through its announcers, was often aloof
and supercilious.

The golden mean was an educated, but classless voice that all might find
acceptable and none offensive.

The search for the acceptable mean was the thread running through the efforts of
the Talks Department to find ways of distinguishing serious and popular styles of talk
via impersonal and personal forms of address; techniques for managing controversy
and for escaping the limitations of the straight lecture talk; and methods of present
ordinary people, their experience and points of view.
The common purpose of these developments was to find ways of communicating
with a new, unknown audience which took account of the person and status of the
speakers, the form and substance of their talk and the circumstances in which it was
heard. In addressing such issues the broadcasters were breaking quite new ground
as they tried to overcome the limitations of existing practices of public speech and
rhetoric.

Pg 176-178

The long term trend, on radio and television, had been to shift the relationship
communicators and audiences away from distanced, authoritarian patterns towards
more relaxed, informal and interactive styles of communication. This trend, spread
over sixty years, has been the expressive register of the erosion of social deference
and of more equal styles of social interaction between people in public and private.

The change in communicative ethos has been broadcastings fundamental


contribution to the quality of social relations in modern society. Post war
demarcation between class boundaries and positions eroded and BBC producing
middle class entertainment that needed to appeal to all.

The unknown audience needed to be known and understood in order to provide it


with programmes that satisfied its interests, tastes and wants.

Ellis, J., 2000. Seeing Things: Television in the Age of Uncertainty. London: I.B.
Tauris

Shapley, O., 1996. Broadcasting a Life. London: Scarlett Press

Scannell, P., 1991. Broadcast Talk. London: Sage Publications

Tolson, A., 2006, Media Talk: Spoken Discourse on TV and Radio [online]
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Hutchby, I., 2006, Media Talk: Conversation Analysis and the Study of Broadcasting
[online] Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw-Hill Education

Scannell, P, & Cardiff, D., 1991, A Social History Of British Broadcasting, Oxford:
Basil Blackwell

Brand, G. & Scannell, P., 1991 Talk Identity and Performance: The Tony Blackburn
Show in Scannell, P., 1991. Broadcast Talk. London: Sage Publications, 201-226.