Weekly Blog #13: The Final Frontier

After I graduate, it’s tough to say if I will continue to produce more podcast episodes for “All Betts Are Off.” I don’t know how much I’ll be able to release publicly until I complete the interviews as the disc jockeys I plan to interview may have an issue with privacy even though I don’t plan on asking questions that would otherwise get them in trouble. However, each episode will be a part of my portfolio that I will use to apply for jobs. If I don’t end up using this podcast after graduation, I hope to still get into the podcasting game and produce something that suits my personal interests. “All Betts are Off” could serve as a launching pad should I decide to go a different route.

Weekly Blog #12: A Look Back & A Look Ahead

MA Project Workshop was a very productive experience. At the beginning of the semester, it seemed very overwhelming because up to this point, my main focus was getting through Communication Concepts, Research Methods and Media Tech & Culture. I was able to take a series of different ideas and cut it down to a concise, straight forward project. I was able to get some additional production experience and even work on my interviewing chops for next semester. I really liked getting the feedback from the instructors and my fellow classmates. I also like that I we were able to get our committees together. It was also great to get some of their early feedback as well. I look forward to working with them next semester.

Next semester, I need to pick the top disc jockeys on my list that I want to interview and reach out to them to see if they would be interested. I would also have to work out a time and place to hold the interviews. Once I do that and hold the interviews, I want to make sure to include everything I learned from the interviews in the paper. This semester, it was tough to try to put the paper together without the interviews and I hope that changes next semester and I can pull direct examples from each of the interviews. I also hope that I get a deeper understanding of what it’s like working in radio from those who have been in it for years.

Weekly Blog #11 Another Source Analysis and Look Ahead

Savage, M. E., & Spence, P. R. (2014). Will You Listen? An Examination of Parasocial Interaction and Credibility in Radio. Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 21(1), 3–19. doi: 10.1080/19376529.2014.891214

This article examines how the emergence of social media has affected the parasocial interaction between the personalities and listeners. One of the earliest arguments made in this article is that social media is a great place to get the direct feedback needed to run the station (Savage/Spence, 2014). The article also talks about how radio has adapted to meet the needs of listeners (Savage/Spence, 2014). Listeners may interact with the personalities on social media and feel an attachment to them because of similar music tastes or even similar viewpoints (Savage/Spence, 2014). Social media has given radio personalities the ability to be an influencer due to them being public figures with a platform (Savage/Spence, 2014).

This article is helpful as it reinforces a lot of viewpoints in a lot of other sources I’ve found. I also feel a level of personal attachment because there are radio personalities that I regularly interact with on social media and that has brought me closer to them. It’s also how I’ll most likely reach out to them to possibly interview them. I hope to use this article as a way to show how the growth of social media has affected radio stations since it shows how they’ve adapted to new media. Social media may be a topic I’ll bring up when I do the interviews.

My next step in the process is to complete the draft by this weekend. I’m also in the midst of planning to meet with Kara Koser (Temple Grad and Recording Artist) and go over some ideas for a theme song for the podcast. I’m hoping to meet with her sometime next week. I think it’ll be a fun way to transition from the intro of each episode to the interview itself making the intro into a “cold open.” I may end up seeing a few of the D.J.’s in the coming weeks at an event at Parx Casino and another one here at the Liacouras Center so if the topic of the podcast comes up, I may ask them if they are into the idea of the podcast.

Weekly Blog #10: The Source Analysis Strikes Back & Look Ahead

Spangardt, B., Ruth, N., & Schramm, H. (2016). “… And Please Visit Our Facebook Page, Too!” How Radio Presenter Personalities Influence Listeners’ Interactions With Radio Stations. Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 23(1), 68–94. doi: 10.1080/19376529.2016.1155710

This article by Sangardt and Schramm further emphasizes the parasocial interactions between radio personalities and listeners. The research question they look to explore is, “To what extent do presenters influence the degree of off-air contact or interaction between music radio stations and their listeners?” Essentially, do the personalities keep the listener engaged to the specific station even if their favorite personality is not currently on the air? The article also talks about how listeners engage with stations. Listener interactions typically come through on-air contests and call ins to the station. It also goes into the history of the parasocial theory, which was founded by Horton & Wohl, which essentially is defined as a listener’s perceived closeness to a media personality, similar to their relationship to their friends and family (Spangardt/Schramm, 2016). Spangardt and Schramm describes the three dimensions of this theory as affective, cognitive, conative which look at specific behaviors amongst the listeners, like if the listener really trusts advice from the presenter (Spangardt/Schramm, 2016). The authors conducted a study in the form of an experiment where they had listeners listen to a radio show with a rotating group of personalities to see what types of traits the personalities have that the listeners latch onto the most. The findings were presented in a chart, with more of the listeners gravitating towards humor and quick-witted personalities (Spangardt/Schramm, 2016).

This article will be valuable to my project as it really breaks down parasocial interaction. It includes some of the history of the theory. I hope to get a full understanding it as it will really help conducting interviews. I’m sure a lot of the disc jockeys I’m interviewing aren’t very familiar with this theory but they’ve definitely experienced it firsthand. I’m sure it will also generate some great interview questions, which I hope to have with my pre-production binder, which I’ll be working on this weekend. The survey conducted in this study was definitely interesting though I don’t see myself utilizing it because I imagined my study going in more through the perspective of the personalities themselves because I want to get more of a look behind the scenes rather than just interacting with a listener, which would be easy.

I’m in the midst of organizing everything for my pre-production binder. I’ve assembled a list of potential interviewees arranged in order of probability of interest in being interviewed and level of personal relationship with the DJ. Once it is ready, I’ll send everything over to my committee members to get their feedback. Once that is sent, I hope to dig into my essay draft (I can only balance so much at the same time). I also hope to get some feedback on my initial media. I received some great feedback in class last night, which I will implement in my next deliverable and podcasts in the spring.

Weekly Blog #9: Analysis of Source Plus Next Steps for Project

Johnson, J. M. Q., & Patnoe-Woodley, P. D. (2016). Exploring the Influence of Parasocial Relationships and Experiences on Radio Listeners’ Consumer Behaviors. Communication Research Reports, 33(1), 40–46. doi: 10.1080/08824096.2015.1117440

I found an article from ‘Communication Research Reports’ that looks at how the parasocial relationship between a radio personality and the listener can influence a listener’s purchase habits. Authors Jessie M. Quintero Johnson and Paula D. Patnoe-Woodley created a survey that looked at the purchase habits of several listeners after personalities endorse products on the air. The survey questions related to uses and gratification theory which is when people use a specific form of media to satisfy a need in their life. The parasocial relationship comes at the listener’s need for companionship, which fuel’s the listener’s need for radio (Johnson/Woodley, 2016). The station looks at this relationship for commercial gain and looks to their personalities to sell products on the air because of the trust listeners have with the personalities.

I feel this article is helpful with adding more depth to my research. It looks at the other end of the parasocial relationship. It looks at how media companies can use the trust listeners have with on-air personalities for financial gain. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because the products they are endorsing on air can be great products. However, it puts that trust to the test because it makes you question whether the personalities are reaching out to listeners via social media just so their bosses can make more money. I personally don’t see it that way but I can see why that idea is a valid opinion.

I’m currently in the midst of writing an introduction and conclusion to my interview with Nancy Morris for my proof of concept submission. I’m writing an introduction that introduces my audience to Nancy Morris and the 2 studies I interviewed her about. I’m also writing a closing that ties together everything I discussed with Nancy Morris in the interview. I have a recording booth reserved for this Monday afternoon, which will help eliminate any background noise and hopefully any static. I’m also going to submit my bibliography to my committee to get some insight on what my next steps should be in regards to my project. I would like to get insight on the types of questions I should ask in the interviews I plan on conducting next semester.

Week 8: Summarizing the Initial Media Feedback and Looking Ahead at the Next Steps

I was pleased to receive mostly positive feedback and great constructive criticism on the demo podcast I submitted for my initial media. My classmates praised the questions I asked and how Dr. Morris was so open in all her responses. They also said how relevant her answers were to the topic of identity through radio. A lot of my classmates and I had Dr. Morris for the Masters Colloquium class last year and we had no idea she had such a strong interest for radio, let alone, publish 2 studies about radio. It was great to really open with her about the topic of radio and I’m glad this piqued the curiosity of my classmates. The main criticism I received was that the audio quality was not up to par. My classmates (and I) noticed a lot of static, which I didn’t notice until it was played over the computer in the classroom. I don’t know if this was an issue with my recorder or an issue that happened after I uploaded the file. The students also heard a lot of background noise. The other criticism was that as an interviewer, my overall tone seemed too relaxed and not as energetic, which is a valid criticism.

As I move along with my project, I will make sure to test the audio quality of whatever recording device I’m using and try to test the audio file over several different speakers to make sure I notice if anything can be addressed. It’s tough to address background noise unless I can record the interview in a soundproof studio. Since my project is 100% audio based, the sound quality is the most important because poor quality is very distracting. As far as tone is concerned, I will make sure I come off as more energetic. I will make sure I continue to ask very thought provoking questions. My next step in this process is to create my proof of concept and my plan is to really examine the current file to see if I can address the static and also add an introduction and a closing that will welcome the listeners to the interview and summarize it in a way that leaves everyone with the ability to take something from the interview.

Week 7: Meetings with Committee Members, Librarian and Initial Media

In the past week, I got further along with my M.A. project.  I met with each member of my committee. First, I met with my chair, Jack Klotz and went over the progress I’ve made over the past few weeks. He is really excited and loves my idea for my podcast. He even recommended that I read up on Tom Donahue and Jocko Henderson, two influential radio DJs. We also talked about the interviews I’ll hold next semester with Philadelphia-area DJs and after I told him that I’m interning at WMMR, he recommended that I try to interview Pierre Robert, longtime WMMR disc jockey because he would provide a lot of historical information and most likely has some great stories to tell. The next day I met with Andrew Iliadis and went over a lot of the same information. He recommended that I check out the interviewing section of the research methods textbook as it provides some great information especially for podcasts. 

After I met with Jack and Andrew, I held a demo interview with Nancy Morris and had a great discussion about the studies she has published about identity and radio. One highlight of our interview was talking about DJs who voice track. Voice-tracking is the illusion of a live disc jockey on the radio. This DJ could be someone from another part of the country pre-recording all their speaking breaks or a local DJ pre-recording their breaks. Nancy also recommended that I check out author David Crider, a former Temple student who published a book about how DJs create their on-air personas. Nancy even offered to put me in touch with Crider. He could be someone I could interview for the podcast. As of this writing, I am currently editing the podcast for my initial media. I plan on adding an introduction and closing for the proof of concept later this month. 
Next, I met with Kristina DeVoe to get an overview of the resources offered by the library. Kristina suggested 2 specific databases Communication & Mass Media Complete and Music & Performing Arts Collection and even found some great books for me to check out. It was refreshing to actually explore the library’s resources with someone who knows exactly what terms to search as doing it without direction can be frustrating. Lastly, I met with my other committee member Sherri Culver and we discussed what I’ve done up to this point. She’s also really excited to see this project come together. She was also impressed about this workshop class and how this will really help me come January once I start scheduling interviews.

Weekly Blog #6: First Round of Updates on Project

Over the past week, I’ve been taking extra steps to get further to my goal of getting my podcast off the ground. This week, I decided to schedule an interview with Nancy Morris, whom has written about identity and radio while living in Scotland and Spain. I met with her on Wednesday to catch up with her since I haven’t seen her since my Masters Colloquium last year. We also talked briefly about each of the studies that she did, which she said all started with a level of curiosity. I’m currently in the midst of scheduling a recording session in her office sometime next week. I am also working to prepare a list of questions to ask her in the interview. Since Nancy will be unavailable in the spring semester, I feel the information she could provide me will be valuable. I will eventually reach out to several radio personalities in the spring, when I have more time to schedule interviews with them. I think they would be tough to get a hold of on short notice and I would like to be totally immersed in the research before I even meet with them so I can make sure I’m prepared. Nancy also recommended a book that I should check out that deals a lot with how radio disc jockeys create a sense of identity. I ordered it off Amazon and it should be delivered by next week.

In regards to meeting with my committee, I have a meeting scheduled with my chair, Jack Klotz this Monday after my Recording Industry Practicum class. I plan to update him on my progress which includes getting my committee set, my upcoming interview with Nancy Morris and any tips he has for the recording process, my idea of focusing the “identity” research on the fan culture of radio, getting a list of potential interviewees in order of priority and address any other concerns. I also reached out to Andrew Iliadis and Sherri Culver and as of this writing, I’m waiting to hear back from them. I hope to schedule a meeting with them next week following the meeting with Jack Klotz or if they are unavailable, I’ll email them a few bullet points about my progress. I hope to meet with all 3 of them at the same time, at least once a month in the spring or more often if there are any concerns that may surface. I have a meeting scheduled with Kristina DeVoe next Wednesday to go over my next steps in the research process. I also plan on digging into the video tutorials I was skimming through last week.

In an effort to find some inspiration, I sat in on a podcast recording at Temple’s WHIP radio station. I reached out to Victoria Leese, the program director at WHIP and she recommended I sit in a podcast recording. WHIP has a podcast recording booth right next to their on-air booth which is complete with 3 microphones, a mixing board and a MAC desktop. I sat in on the recording of “It’s Always Spooky” where hosts Asa and Sybil, both Temple students analyze bizarre stories that deal with ghosts and the paranormal. This week was Asa and Sybil’s first recording of the podcast so I got to see them really find a rhythm that works for them. I had discussed with them that since this was their first podcast they’ve ever recorded, it was going to be very structured and scripted. As time goes on, they’ll start to loosen up and be able to improvise more often. Their topic for the first episode was history of grave robbers in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. I think they have a really interesting concept that is unlike anything I’ve ever listen to before so I’m excited to see what they are able to put together. I was also able to network with them and offered to contribute any further feedback and maybe even participate in a future episode.

To recap, this week, I set up an interview with Nancy Morris who has published several studies about identity and radio. This interview will serve as my initial media and I will build on it with my proof of concept. My interview will be scheduled for next week, once she gets back to me. I met with her in person to go over my project, set up this interview and catch up since I haven’t spoken with her since last year. She also recommended a book for me. I have a meeting scheduled with Jack Klotz this Monday to go over my progress with this project and the next steps. I hope to meet with the rest of my committee pending their availability for next week. I will also be meeting with Kristina DeVoe next week to go over my next steps in the research and what resources are available in Charles Library.

Weekly Blog #5: Analysis of Another Source, Update on Project

This article looked at how fan media consumption has transformed overtime with the emergence of new technologies. The author looks at the history of the relationship between producers and watchers and states that they have a symbiotic relationship. One example author Roberta Pearson cites is that the U.K. show 33 premiered in the UK several weeks before it debuted on U.S. After the U.K. airing, several viewers of the show uploaded the show on a peer to peer file sharing site and U.S. viewers were able to watch the show before it even aired on U.S. television (Pearson, 2010). One would think that would cause less people to tune in, however, this caused the opposite, viewers were telling all those close to them to tune in and 33 continues to be one of the most popular shows on the SciFi network (Pearson, 2010). However, when Napster was active, it caused a huge slump in music sales so this relationship is able to go both ways (Pearson, 2010). Pearson mentions this relationship between producers and fans predates the digital age and cites Star Trek fans successfully protesting at NBC Studios in Burbank, CA in an effort to keep the show from being canceled. The show would eventually be renewed for a new season.

I think this article is very valuable to my project because it shows how fan passion can drive how content is received. The choice of what songs get played on the air will affect the size of the listening audience. I hope to find out when I hold the interviews is how commercial terrestrial radio continues to adapt in this digital age. I hear passionate listeners calling into Preston & Steve every morning so you can tell this is part of their morning routine. I also had a friend of mine who recently moved to Alaska said one of the biggest things he misses about living in Philadelphia is being able to listen to Preston & Steve live every morning. I hope to find out what drives this passion as I continue to work there.

As of this writing, I’m establishing the next steps in my project. I have a meeting next Wednesday with Nancy Morris, who has written about identity and radio in international markets who has offered herself as a resource for the project. I may interview her and use her for my initial media as a test interview especially since she’ll be unavailable in the spring. I’m still waiting to hear back from her to see if she is comfortable with being recorded. If she isn’t, I may try to interview the program director at WHIP and just meet with Nancy and have a regular discussion. I think waiting till the spring to interview the disc jockeys at WMMR and Radio 104.5 is the way to go since by then I’ll be more prepared and will have more time to try to schedule interviews. I also have a meeting set up for the following Wednesday with Kristina De Voe to help with finding additional resources. I also will meet with my chair, Jack Klotz this week during his office hours to get some input for the project. I hope to get some advice to how to record the project and see if he has input as far as content is concerned.

Pearson, R. (2010). Fandom in the Digital Era. Popular Communication, 8(1), 84–95. doi: 10.1080/15405700903502346

Weekly Blog #4: Analyzing a Source and Update on Project

In Chapter 5 of Only Connect: a Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States, author Michele Hilmesdocuments how radio adapted after The Great Depression. During the 1930s, radios were first introduced in cars and the cost of receivers dropped even though at the time, they were expensive (Hilmes, 2014). Hilmes cites a survey taken during the depression where if people had to choose what they would give up, their radios would be at the bottom of the list since radio acted as a voice outside of their own world (Hilmes, 2014). Radio also served as the primary home for vaudeville which ushered in a new era of comedy which influenced a lot of future comedic programming seen on television like Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman (Hilmes, 2014). After radio comedies seemed to make a permanent shift to television, music became the prominent fixture of radio content. Music seemed to open doors for a whole bunch of musicians across many cultural ethnicities like Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and later with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby who were known as ‘crooners’ (Hilmes, 2014). These big breaks in radio came through radio gigs (live in-studio performances) and radio’s ability to group musical genres which gave acts a even bigger platform to be heard.

While I don’t think this chapter mentions explicitly about identity, it provides great background information. Early on in the podcast, I think it’s important that I establish some of the history of music radio programming. I really like that this chapter talks briefly about musicians playing radio in-studio performances as that it something still done today. Musicians use radio as a platform to get their name out there so they visit local radio stations to do interviews and in-studio performances. It’s done especially if they are promoting a concert later that same day or they are a relatively new act trying to make a name for themselves in a big market, like here in Philadelphia. Since music radio was only a small section of this chapter, I don’t feel this chapter was fully helpful since it mostly talked about scripted dramas and comedy that dominated radio in the 1930s and 40s.

So far, in regards to my project, I have tapped Jack Klotz, Sherri Culver and Andrew Iliadis to serve on my committee and all 3 have signed on to do so. I have a meeting later this coming week with Nancy Morris to sign the Committee form and to go over some sources as she offered herself as a resource for this project since she has written several articles about identity. Once I’ve received feedback on my project treatment, I plan on sending it to my committee members as a way to ‘break the ice’ with my project since I’ve only discussed it briefly with them. This will help spur the discussion and ideas back and forth. While I could send them the treatment now, I think waiting until I get the feedback will add more depth to my treatment and provide a solid foundation to spur the work I will do with my committee.

Hilmes, M. (2014). Only Connect: a Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.