Article summary: Enrico Menduni

In Honours blog on August 5, 2009 at 8:30 am

Menduni, Enrico. “Four steps in innovative radio broadcasting: From QuickTime to podcasting”. The Radio Journal Vol. 5, 2007

Menduni explains what contributed to our current online music situation. From gramophones to live streaming, to the iPod. He says that podcasting is not a more democratic medium than radio, it operates in a very similar way, just with more producers. He makes an interesting connection with the flaneur, or city0walker. Could be very useful in my exegesis. He also suggests that it could be the mobile phone that is the next step forward in radio consumption. But it kind of is already, with the iPhone, etc.

“The diffusion of sound through the net would dramatically change the distrib-
ution, economy and culture of music, not to mention all related social
systems, including radio and the recording industry. Among the various
consequences, we can distinguish two important categories:
1. Almost everybody could broadcast. The former enormous social and
economic distance between broadcaster and listener could evolve
towards an almost peer-to-peer (P2P) relationship, at least potentially.
10 Enrico Menduni

2. Almost every existing radio station could ‘webcast’ (broadcast on the
net), breaking space and time boundaries and many (if not all) forms of
social control and censorship.” (pp. 10-11)

“Streaming software allowed one to access a digital sound (or, later, video)
file before it had been completely downloaded. Before the introduction of
streaming, downloading time could be so long – due to the dimensions of
the file – that it would discourage potential listeners,” (pg. 11)

“The iPod allowed its user to hold a personal encyclopaedia in which all his or her history in
music, video and photos is stored: in other words, a complete set of tastes
and preferences.” (pg. 14)

“At the moment, podcasting does not operate as a more democ-
ratic medium. Just as it is valued and exploited by the recording industry,
radio stations and even political or cultural organisations have adopted it
in order to promote closer bonds with their listeners and clients, i.e., as
with any form of subscription.” (pg. 15)

But despite the fact that the commercial side of broadcasting has jumped on the bandwagon it does still have independant roots:

“Podcasting, as a social practice, seems to be
considered by the young as more individualised than radio listening and
music compilation-making, involving a relationship with several
providers, the podcasters, seen not as institutions but as peers.” (pg. 16)

“All these hints, however provisional, suggest a role for podcasting as a
niche prosumer activity, not as random listening or a passive feed from the
podcaster. While Internet radio is highly static, rooted in the household,
podcasting could be the true heir of the urban explorations of the
Walkman, both having as their ancestor the flâneur (city-walker) of
Baudelaire: the person who ‘marries the crowd’, who likes most ‘to be out
of home, and nevertheless to feel at home everywhere, to watch the world,
to be in its centre and to be in hiding’ (Baudelaire 1885: 64–65). Indeed,
even more than the Walkman, podcasting implies a component of manual
manipulation on the computer keyboard, accessible to a niche of passion-
ate lovers of music and radio. It seems to indicate the future of radio but,
nevertheless, it is difficult to think of mass podcasting given that it requires
a component of specialised computer work.” (pg. 16)

But it may not be the future, there is perhaps more evolution of radio yet to come…

“As an interesting and effective social technology, podcasting would appear to retain the mobile and
interactive aspects of radio, its valued attributes as a medium. Yet podcasting may still not offer the definitive mode of radio consumption.” (pg. 16)

He suggests that it is the mobile phone that could be the future way we consume broadcasting, and everything else:

“It may well be that the mobile phone will
create its own political economy as a technological and social platform to
carry other media, like a radio set or a camera, a recorder or an MP3
player, and a popular billing system. Indeed it may be that radio in the
digital era may profit more by establishing some form of alliance with
mobile phones, including an evolution of podcasting, as suggested by the
presentation in December 2006 by Apple of an iPhone. Technology in the
UMTS generation of mobile phones could be ready for this but, once again,
it will be the social uses of technology rather than the technology itself
that will finally decide.” (pg. 17)


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