Ieuan franklin

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A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Bournemouth University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

November 2009

This copy of the thesis has been supplied on condition that anyone who consults it is understood to recognise that its copyright rests with its author and due acknowledgement must always be made of the use of any material contained in, or derived from, this thesis.
This thesis investigates a variety of uses of actuality (recorded speech), oral history and folklore (vernacular culture) in radio broadcasting in Britain and Newfoundland (Canada). The broadcasting of vernacular culture will be shown to foster intimate and interactive relationships between broadcasters and audiences. Using a theoretical framework that draws upon the work of communications theorists Harold Innis and Walter Ong, the thesis will explore the (secondary) orality of radio broadcasting, and will consider instances in which the normative unidirectional structure and ‘passive’ orality of radio has been (and can be) made reciprocal and active through the participation of listeners. The inclusion of ‘lay voices’ and ‘vernacular input’ in radio broadcasting will be charted as a measure of the democratization of radio, and in order to demonstrate radio’s role in disseminating oral history, promoting dialogue, and building and binding communities. The thesis will predominantly focus on local and regional forms of radio: the BBC Regions in the post-war era; regional radio programming serving the Canadian province of Newfoundland both pre- and post-Confederation (which took place in 1949); and the community radio sector in the UK during the last five years. A common theme of many of the case studies within the thesis will be the role of citizen participation in challenging, transgressing or eroding editorial control, institutional protocols and the linguistic hegemony of radio production. Conversely, close attention will be given to the ways in which editorial control in radio production has circumscribed the self-definition of participants and communities. These case studies will provide evidence with which to investigate the following research question - is the democratization of radio possible through the incorporation of citizen voices or messages within radio production or programming, or is it only possible through changing the medium itself through citizen participation in democratic structures of production, management and ownership?


This study was undertaken as a Studentship at Bournemouth University. I would like to thank my supervisors Sean Street, Hugh Chignell and Christine Daymon for their invaluable guidance and input. I would particularly like to thank Professor Street, who has been unfailing and unstinting in his support and encouragement for my work throughout the last three years. I would also like to thank all members of the Centre for Broadcasting History Research at Bournemouth University and all members of the Southern Universities Broadcasting History Group. In 2007 I received a Bournemouth-Memorial Travel Bursary to conduct research in Newfoundland for the period of one month, which represented a very valuable opportunity and useful experience. In Newfoundland, Patti Fulton of the Memorial Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) at Memorial University in Newfoundland was hugely supportive and a true friend, and Jeff Webb of the History Department and Philip Hiscock and Peter Narváez of the Folklore Department at Memorial kindly gave up plenty of their time to be interviewed and to share their considerable knowledge of Newfoundland radio. I would also like to thank the former CBC producers and presenters Dave Quinton, Dave Gunn, Des Browne and Anne Budgell, the freelance radio producer Chris Brookes, and the documentary producer Paul McLeod. Thanks also to Ivan Emke, Fred Campbell and Ryan Hermens for providing interesting information on community radio developments in Newfoundland. Back in Britain and Ireland, the radio producers Alan Dein, David Prest and Ronan Kelly gave up their time to be interviewed about the oral history dimensions of their work. Thanks to Phil Gibbons, Carlton Romaine and Mary Ingoldby for discussing their memories of Commonwealth FM with me. Thanks are due to the staff of various archives – Patti Fulton at MUNFLA; Paul Wilson and staff at the National Sound Archive in the British Library; Jeff Walden and colleagues at the BBC Written Archives in Caversham; Ken Puley and colleagues at the CBC Programme Archives in Toronto; Ken Dahl at the Saksatchewan Archives Board in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; staff at the Charles Parker Archive in Birmingham Central Library; Francis Jones and colleagues at the BBC Northern Ireland Archive in Cultra, near Belfast; Luke Kirwan and colleagues at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin; Mike Weaver and colleagues at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford; and Alison Fraser at the Orkney Sound Archive. Canadian archivists/historians Ern Dick and Denis Duffy provided valuable information about CBC’s oral history work and archives. Thanks to Sara Beth Keough for sharing her research on Newfoundland music radio and to Helen Gubbins for providing me with information about the use of Radio Éireann’s Mobile Recording Unit. Thanks to Armin Medosch for sharing unpublished work on the Hidden Histories project, and for uploading my short article on Hidden Histories to his excellent Next Layer website. Thanks to Marjorie Ruse for sharing her memories of working as Denis Mitchell’s secretary in the BBC North Region during the 1950s. Thanks to Peter Cox, Ben Harker, Paul Long, Mike Rosen and Francis Hywel for help in researching the work of Charles Parker. Thanks to Padmini Broomfield for supplying me with oral history publications relating to the Southampton area. Thanks also to Derek Paget, Janet Graves, Lesley Borzoni, Mary J. Brody, Alex Gray, Keith Skipper, Gerry Harrison, Beth Lloyd, Frances Wilkinson, Fiona Julian and Sue Newhook. To Syd Lewis and colleagues – thanks for giving me a fantastic welcome to the world of Cape and Islands National Public Radio on that drizzly day in Woods Hole, Cape Cod. Thanks to Gary Noel, Sheldon Stone and Gary and Joni in Norris Point, Newfoundland and the Mayo family in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Last but not least, thanks to Céline for her support.

Table of Contents

1.0 Rationale 4

1.1 The Spoken and the Written 10

1.2 Radio and Orality 16

1.3 The Space-Bias of Radio 26

1.4 The Professionalization of Speaking 28

1.5 The Emancipation of the ‘Common’ Voice 38

1.6 Broadcasting as Social Contact 47

1.7 Broadcasting and Mass Observation 49

1.8 Knowable Communities 53

Chapter 2: From Paternalism to Participation? The Post-War BBC Regions 64

2.0 Radio Research Methodology 64

2.1 Radio Features in the Post-War Climate 69

2.2 Brandon Acton-Bond’s Micro-Local West Region Features 80

2.3 Sound and Subcultures: Denis Mitchell in the North Region 89

2.4 An Antiphony of Voices: Sam Hanna Bell in Northern Ireland 109

Chapter 3: Newfoundland’s Vernacular Radio Culture 125

3.0 Folklore and Popular Culture 125

3.1 The Barrelman 131

3.2.0 The Gerald S. Doyle News Bulletin 141

3.2.1 The Bulletin’s Creation of an Imagined Community 148

3.2.2 Humour, Folklore and Vernacular Usage 151

3.3 The Fisheries Broadcast 156

3.4 The Chronicles of Uncle Mose 169

3.5 Between Ourselves 175

3.6 Challenge for Change 182

3.7 The Fogo Process 185

Chapter 4: Editing and Editorial Control 195

4.0 The ‘Weaving Medium’ 195

4.1 Fieldwork, Poetry & Ethnography 199

4.2 Urban Soundscapes 203

4.3 Between Two Worlds: Five Generations 209

4.4 Shared Authority and the Radio Ballads 216

4.5 The Ethics of Editing 226

4.6 Charles Parker: The Admissibility of Montage after the Radio Ballads 233

4.7 New Horizons: The Wheeler/Prest Collaborations and The Reunion 238

4.8 Micro-Local Radio Features: Alan Dein (BBC) and Ronan Kelly (RTÉ) 248

4.9 Oral History and Authority 253

Chapter 5: Oral History, Local and Community Radio and Social Gain 261

5.0 Introduction 261

5.1 The Millennium Memory Bank and The Radio Research Project 263

5.2 The Linguistic Mapping of the UK for Broadcast Purposes 267

5.3 The Preservation of Local and Community Radio 274

5.4.0 Commonwealth FM 278

5.4.1 Technology, Oral History and Participation 281

5.4.2 Programming: Empire, Free Speech and Traditions 283

5.4.3 ‘Steam Radio’: Bridging the Past and the Present 286

5.4.4 The Relationship between Commonwealth FM and the Museum 288

5.5 The Philosophy, Funding and Social Gain of Community Radio 292

5.6 Connecting Histories 296

5.7 Community: A Contested Term 300

5.8 Conclusion: Communication as Ritual 305

Appendix A 320

Orality and Presence 320

Appendix B 323

The BBC’s Talks on Unemployment During the 1930s 323

Appendix C 329

The CBC’s Use of Oral History 329

Imbert Orchard 332

Appendix D 342

Notes Towards a Communication Dialectic 342

Telephone Trottoire 348

Hidden Histories 355

References 365

Chapter 1: Radio and the Orality and Literacy Debate
Radio, the new tree of speech, is capable of rekindling the key tradition of oral expression in which speech builds the village (Aw, quoted in Moore 2008).

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