‘Public radio voice: Hearing institutional racism in the American soundscape’ MFH online seminar by Laura Garbes

Online seminar by Dr Laura Garbes (Brown / U Minnesota) presented by the Media Futures Hub in the School of Arts and Media, UNSW

All welcome. Please circulate widely

Thursday 5 May, 2pm (AEST, Sydney, Australia)

Please RSVP to mediafutures@unsw.edu.au for the Zoom link

ABSTRACT: How does institutional racism shape who gets heard in the public sphere? In this talk, I outline the institutional practices of racialized voice evaluation within American public radio production processes. I find that institutionalized practices of finding sources and narrating stories have racially exclusionary impacts on whose voices make it onto public radio airwaves. Drawing on the experiences of 82 nonwhite employees in the American public radio industry, I show that voices evaluated for broadcast are coded as nonwhite, their clarity and expertise are more likely to be questioned.  For each institutionalized norm of voice evaluation, I identify strategies that these workers use to expand the voices that make it on air. These findings suggest that these evaluations place a burden on public radio employees of color that seek to deviate from these institutionalized norms. The research contributes to a growing literature on racialized evaluation by highlighting the role of the voice and sound in how institutional racism shapes cultural production. It also brings in the sociology of work to understand how racialized evaluation shapes the workplace experiences of employees of color in the cultural industries.

BIO: Laura Garbes is an incoming assistant professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She received her PhD in Sociology from Brown University. She has received fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the American Association for University Women for her work, which focuses on the relationship between voice, whiteness, and cultural organizations. Her current research project interrogates the racialization of sound in American public radio. Her article “When the “Blank Slate” Is a White One: White Institutional Isomorphism in the Birth of National Public Radio” is published in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. Her most recent publication, ““Anti-Colonial Struggles on Air: Challenging the Colonial Soundscape through Indigenous Soundwork” can be found in Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture.

RESPONDENT: The seminar will feature a response by Nicola Jospeh, Media Futures Hub Higher Degree Researcher. Nicola has worked across the community and public radio sectors in Australia for more than 30 years. She worked at 4ZZZ as a journalist was one of the team who started Radio Skid Row including Radio Redfern in Sydney. She has been a presenter and executive producer at ABC RN and was also SBS Radio’s station manager in Sydney. She has won awards for her efforts in diversifying Australia’s media. These days she is (still) writing her Phd, Listening while Producing, which draws on her own experience together with Indigenous and BPOC producers, which focuses on voice, listening and whiteness in community and public radio in Australia.

For more on the Media Futures Hub, check the website https://mediafutureshub.org/  and follow us on Twitter @MediaFuturesHub

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