Living Language, Resurgent Radio: A Survey of Indigenous Language Broadcasting Initiatives
Read Mark Turin and David Danos recently published piece in Language Documentation & Conservation.
For a demise that has been predicted for over 60 years, radio is a remarkably resilient communications medium, and one that warrants deeper examination as a vehicle for the revitalization of historically marginalized and Indigenous languages.
Radio has not been eroded by the ride of new media, whether that be television, video or newer multimodal technologies associated with the internet. To the contrary, communities are leveraging the formerly analogue medium of radio in transformative ways, breathing new life in to old transistors, and using radio for the transmission of stories, song, and conversation. In this contribution, we highlight effective and imaginative uses of radio for Indigenous language reclamation through a series of case studies, and we offer a preliminary analysis of the structural conditions that can both support and impede developments in Indigenous language radio programming.
The success of radio for Indigenous language programming is thanks to the comparatively low cost of operations, its asynchronous nature that supports programs to be consumed at any time (through repeats, podcasts, downloads and streaming services) and the unusual, even unique, quality of radio being both engaging yet not all-consuming, meaning that a listener can be actively involved in another activity at the same time.