Radio's Digital Dilemma: The Proto-Book Tour

It’s been less than two months since I turned in the manuscript to Routledge, but there’s already some interest in what’s coming. I’ll be speaking on Radio’s Digital Dilemma in a variety of places around the globe this fall:
Brooklyn College Media Nights, New York, October 15. Consider this a dress-rehearsal of the book-talk, which I first tested on unsuspecting radio scholars this spring in Portland, to some shock and no heckling. This is part of a two-day event organized by my work-home, BC’s Department of Television and Radio, and will feature a variety of speakers on pressing topics regarding media and journalism more broadly. Tickets to Media Nights are free, but you do have to reserve them. For more details on the event, follow me on Twitter.
Union for Democratic Communications, San Francisco, November 1-3. This is an awesome annual conference for critical communications scholars, and this year it’s being co-hosted by Project Censored, the folks who track the failings of journalism on major stories every year. I think the story of radio’s digital transition in the United States fits this bill, and hope for a lot of constructive feedback about how we might go about working to change its trajectory.
Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, Sydney, November 14-17. I’m giving a keynote address at the CBAA’s annual conference, which brings together community broadcasters from across the continent. The story of radio’s digital transition in Australia is worlds apart from the U.S. model—or the rest of the world, for that matter.
Community radio is actually enshrined in Australian communications law as a defined segment of the broadcasting environment, and thus receives a level of public support that in many respects is envious. More than 380 community radio and TV stations are on the air there, relying on the work of more than 22,000 volunteers. A quarter of Australian radio listeners tune into community radio stations at least weekly.
However, Australia is also struggling with the imposition of austerity politics and policies, and significant threats to public subsidies for community broadcasting are imminent. Furthermore, the country has adopted a dual-technology digital radio transition: the DAB+ standard is being deployed in the cities and Digital Radio Mondiale in the rural areas. In the latter, 34% of all local programming is provided by community radio stations. However, community broadcasters are not guaranteed any real purchase on either of these platforms, and this is a real threat. In some respects, I think my story may give them some levity and hope: things could be much, much worse.
National Communication Association, Washington, D.C., November 22. This is part of the NCA annual conference, by far the largest gathering of communications scholars in the U.S. I’m one of several thousand players, but I’ll be talking about how useful historiographical research is in contemporary media policy issues. Many believe that "history" is the analysis of things that have already happened, but I believe that historical research actually has the potential to help us shape the future…if we are responsive enough to write it before there’s no chance of changing it.
In many respects, the U.S. digital radio transition is approaching a critical juncture, at which point broadcasters will have to choose between forcibly adopting HD Radio en masse or thinking of a better way. If we don’t lay the groundwork to intervene in this debate, we’ll have missed any chance to reclaim some of the principles which have made radio broadcasting such a unique and effective medium for the last 100 years.
As for the book itself, we’ll be doing the pre-proof copyedit this month, with indexing to take place in October-November. This should make for a release in January/February of 2014. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon at 8% off the list-price, which knocks it down from "You’re kidding, right?" to "Obscenely expensive." Routledge has promised an e-book version…but no details yet on whether it’s pricing will be more sane.
As I’ve mentioned before, there will be a follow-up paperback run if initial demand is good—and for an academic publisher like Routledge, "good" means a couple hundred copies. That’s why I’m advocating that folks contact their local libraries and have them order a copy, so the cost can be spread around. I’d also suggest contacting Routledge directly to let them know that their pricing is insane, and actually inhibits the flow of useful knowledge…but it is such a sprawling company (part of a larger publishing conglomerate) that I don’t even know who to complain to myself.
I’m working to set up more opportunities next year to tell the story of Radio’s Digital Dilemma, so if you’re interested in having me, I’m interested in coming—just drop a line.