Who doesn’t love radio? While other media have struggled to keep up with (and remain profitable amidst) seismic technological changes, radio (in the form of podcasts) has actually gotten better. The media theorist Marshall McLuhan said that the content of any new media is always the format of the medium that came before it—early films looked like theatre, early television took after film. The “golden age of television” is happening, in large part, because television creators realized their medium wasn’t beholden to the same narrative strictures as film.
Radio, as an old technology, has been through several of these technological vicissitudes, but it’s always been able to adapt. It began as the centerpiece of your family room; then it was in your car; now it’s in your pocket. Even better, now it’s on-demand. It is also cheap to produce and distribute, and getting cheaper all the time—new technologies like Pro Tools and Garage Band, and distribution networks like the iTunes store, have served to democratize radio. It’s the punk rock of media technologies.
All of this has led to an explosion of amazing radio/podcasting. Like the rest of us, the Brooklyn Academy of Music has taken note. This June, BAM is partnering up with WNYC to host a five-day RadioLoveFest. Highlights include: a live This American Life taping of true stories staged as radio drama; Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, featuring interviews with Jennifer Egan and Andrew Bird; a live taping of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!; a screening of the Talking Heads’ concert film Stop Making Sense, presented by Brian Lehrer; and a live RadioLab event, wherein hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich “will be joined by some smart friends (and one crazy musician) as they guide the audience through a series of experiments to spot the betrayers, backstabbers, and brotherly lovers among us.” There will also be live musical performances, StoryCorps recording sessions, and a screening of The Princess Bride.
For all the details, go to the festival’s website. Tickets go on sale next week.
Follow Phillip Pantuso on Twitter @phillippantuso.