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Participatory Dynamics in Talk Radio

The post-lunch session at Future of Journalism 2017 starts with Irati Aguirreazkuenaga, whose interest is in participatory dynamics between journalists and their audiences; indeed, is there any meaningful form of participation, for instance in public broadcast radio programming?

Radio has long had talk radio formats, of course, where tensions between populism and public accountability, free expression and rational discussion are managed more or less successfully and conscientiously. How did this play out in the context of an event like the Scottish independence referendum, for example?

In Scotland, professional and institutional elites have largely dominated public life, cementing a view that politics is best left to the experts, and that talk radio shows are just for sport. In talk radio, the shape or formulation of questions strongly affects what form the response takes, too – and the the level of thematic shaping by the broadcasters also plays an important role, of course.

But voice and sound are the great forgotten factor in communication research, Irati suggests; it is therefore important to consider the variables of voice and topic. Irati analysed the nature of the human voice sound in talk radio, therefore, classifying factors such as pitch, tone, and emotionality for a number of Spanish talk radio shows. One key question here is also how this relates to the topics under discussion, and whether the findings from such research could be operationalised in programming.