Tunes for All?
356 pages
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Tunes for All?


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En savoir plus
356 pages


In ten original essays, Danish music and media scholars discuss aspects of music on the radio from the 1920s until today. Understanding music radio as a distributed phenomenon or as a multiplicity, the authors draw upon anthropology, cultural studies and media studies along with sociological and historiographical theory. The intention is to further develop interdisciplinary approaches that may grasp the complex interrelations between radio as an institution and as practices on the one hand and music, musical practices, and musical life on the other. The essays' examples and cases are all related to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) and offer a music radio production perspective. They span the period from when broadcast music was only live to today where almost all of it is prerecorded and digitized. Some of the essays approach broad topics like early music radio's contributions to the regulation of national centres and peripheries, the debates on music radio as mechanical music, and the general changes in music repertoires and in the status of the institution's live ensembles. Music radio's roles as gatekeeper through automatic music programming are discussed in several articles as are the many ways music genres and radio formats interact. Some of the authors turn to detailed analyses at programme level in order to explain aspects of modern music radio and to suggest analytical models. The essays come with an introduction consisting of an extended overview of international music radio studies since the 1930s, and overview of the development of Danish music radio, and a theoretical preamble.



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Date de parution 31 décembre 2018
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EAN13 9788771847109
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Morten Michelsen, Mads Krogh,
Tunes for All? Music on Danish Radio
Iben Have & Steen Kaargaard Nielsen (eds.)
Tunes for All?
Music on Danish Radio
For almost a century, music on the radio has been an important part of Danish music culture.
Tunes for All? Music on Danish Radio presents the many ways music and radio have co-existed
and interacted from the 1920s until today. Music radio is a complex network of sounds,
technologies and people, and the book spans programmes and channels, presenters and listeners,
music genres and programme genres, stakeholders and different interests primarily in relation
to the all-dominant national broadcasting institution, Danmarks Radio.
In 10 chapters, the authors address this network with an interest in programme content and
production from various media and music perspectives in order to contribute to analytical and
theoretical knowledge about music on the radio. The many cases cover chart shows, morning
radio, live ensembles, automatic music programming and sports radio.
Aarhus University Press Morten Michelsen, Mads Krogh,
Iben Have & Steen Kaargaard Nielsen (eds.)
108645_cover_tunes for all_r2.indd 1 05/07/18 11:04Morten Michelsen, Mads Krogh,
Iben Have, Steen Kaargaard Nielsen (eds.)
Tunes for All?
Music on Danish Radio
AArhus u niversity Press | a
108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 3 29/06/18 09:48Tunes for All? Music on Danish Radio
© Authors and Aarhus University Press 2018
Cover: Sigrid Astrup Haraldsen
Layout and typesetting: Ryevad Grafsk
Publishing editor: Leif V.S. Balthzersen
This book is typeset in Vulpa
E-book production: Narayana Press, Denmark
ISBN 978 87 7184 710 9
Aarhus University Press
Finlandsgade 29
DK-8200 Aarhus N
Published with the fnancial support of: The Independent Research Fund Denmark,
Humanities, and Aarhus University Reseach Foundation.
International distributors:
Oxbow Books Ltd.
The Old Music Hall
106-108 Cowley Road
Oxford, OX4 1JE
United Kingdom
70 Enterprise Drive, Suite 2
Bristol, CT 06010
/ In accordance with requirements of the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the certification
means that a PhD level peer has made a written assessment justifying this book’s scientific quality.
108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 4 29/06/18 09:48Contents
11 Foreword
13 Introduction
Music Radio Perspectives
I: Music Radio Research 15
by Morten Michelsen
Radio Studies 16
Radio Studies and Music 18
Early Music Radio Research and Sociolog 19
German Music Radio Research in the 1980s and 1990s 21
Anglo‑American Perspectives: Social History and Cultural Studies 22
Music Radio Anthropolog in France, the US and Scandinavia 24
Music Radio and Multidisciplinarity after the Turn of the Millennium 26
II: Danish Music Radio 29
by The RAMUND research team
Music, Mass Media and Democracy 29
Live Music on the Air (1925‑1962) 32
Records, Profles and P3 (1963‑1991) 38
Flows and Files (1992‑) 41
III: Music Radio Multiplicities 46
by Mads Krogh
A Century … 47
… of Radio … 49
… and Music … 50
… in Denmark 51
108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 5 29/06/18 09:48Perspectives, Themes, Tracks and Traces 52
Main Themes 53
Concluding Remarks 57
Mads Krogh
67 Non/Linear Radio
Genre, Format and Rationalisation in DR Programming
DR Rationalisation 69
Genre and Format – Categorical Difference? 73
Genre and Format Rationality 76
DR Ir/Rationality 78
Concluding Remarks 85
Katrine Wallevik
91 To Go with the Flow and to Produce It
The P3 Head of Music’s Work in Practice
Hero or Villain? Myths About the Head of Music and DR 93
A Practice Perspective: ANT and Empirical Sensibility 95
The Head: Ideas of ‘Structural Identity’, Corporate Thinking
and Questions of Agency 96
The Head in a Network of Actors 103
The P3 Network of Humans and Things 116
Conclusion 123
Iben Have
129 A Lost Link Between Music and Hosts
The Development of a Morning Music Radio Programme
Go’ Morgen P3: A Classic Morning Music Radio Programme 130
Mapping the Host Constellations 1989‑2015 132
Development of Content in Five Programmes 133
Comparative Observations and Development 136
108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 6 29/06/18 09:48Familiarity, Moods and Everyday Life 139
Global Competition and ‘Radiotised’ Audio Culture 143
Appendix 149
Nicolai Jørgensgaard Graakjær
157 Oscillations, Interruptions and Interphonic Gearings
On Music in Studio-Based Sports Radio
Sports, Radio and Music 160
The Assortment of Playlist Tracks 163
The Placements of Playlist Tracks 166
The Introduction, Interruption and Ending of Playlist Tracks 172
Conclusions: On the ‘Grammar’ and Modes of Listening 175
Appendix 182
Kristine Ringsager
187 Presenting a World of Music
Musical Diversity and Cosmopolitan Practices
Within the Danish Broadcasting Corporation
Musical Globalisation, Cosmopolitan Awareness and the Agency
of Radio Presenters 189
Broadcasting Ethnomusicolog: The Case of Poul Rovsing Olsen 191
A Popular ‘Musical Missionary’: The Case of Ole Reitov 197
Embedding the World: The Case of Sveta Rubin 203
In Closing 209
Henrik Smith‑Sivertsen
213 When the Hit Parade(s) Hit Denmark
The Pre‑History – Hit Parades in Europe 215
Teenagers and Hit Parades 218
DR Hit Parades 1962‑1968 225
Conclusion 237
108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 7 29/06/18 09:48Anja Mølle Lindelof
241 Why Do Broadcasting Corporations Have Orchestras?
Understanding the Production Mentality of DR Through
the Case of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra
Live Music on Air – More than a Necessity 242
What Is a Radio Orchestra? 244
Questioning the Existence of an Orchestra – The History of RUO 246the Role of Live Music Production in a ‘Modern Media
House’ 255
Steen Kaargaard Nielsen
259 The Cautionary Tale of Emil Holm and
the Gramophone
Controversial(ised) Uses of Recorded Music and Music
Recording in Danish Radio Broadcasting Before the Second
World War
Gramophone Music at Last 261
DR and the 1931 Debate on ‘Living Music’ Versus ‘Mechanical Music’ 264
Holm in Defence of His Gramophone Programmes 268
Unoffcial In‑House Music Recording 272
Offcial In‑House Music Recording During the Gramophone War 277
In Conclusion: A Missed Opportunity? 279
Charlotte Rørdam Larsen
283 Radio, Music and the Provinces
The Danish State Broadcasting Corporation’s Creation
of Musical Provinces
A Radio for All? 284
Odense Listeners Positioned in the Space of Places 286
The Battle of Places: When Aarhus Got Its Own Orchestra 291
The Periphery as a Space for Old, Graceful Memories 298
108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 8 29/06/18 09:48Radio Programmes as a Space of Places: A True Jutlander Comes
to Town 302
Conclusion 305
Morten Michelsen
309 Negotiating Musical Hierarchies
Music Programming and Genre on Inter-War Danish Radio
Musical Genres and Hierarchies 312
Public Debates on Musical Hierarchies and Genres 315
Genres According to DR Discourse 318
DR Programming Practices 324
Balancing Popular and Serious Music 330
Questions of Popularity 332
Compartmentalisation and Cohesion 337
Appendix 342
345 Photos
347 Index
357 Contributors
108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 9 29/06/18 09:48108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 10 29/06/18 09:48Foreword
Most scholarly articles and books on music and radio begin with a few sentences
establishing that music has always been extremely important to radio, and Danish
th stmusic radio in the 20 and 21 centuries only proves this point. Music programmes
have taken up about half of the broadcasting time on Danish national radio since its
inception in 1925, and when the amount of DAB specialist channels peaked in the
2000s music accounted for around 80 per cent. Simultaneously, radio as a medium
and radio as an institution has afected Danish musical life in numerous ways. This
intricate state of mutual infuence and intertwined development is the topic of this
collected volume.
The background to this anthology is the research project ‘A Century of Radio and
Music in Denmark. Music Genres, Radio Genres, and Mediatisation’ (RAMUND,, which ran from 2013 to 2018 and had 11 members from
four Danish universities and the Royal Danish Library. Among the most important
results are three anthologies. The frst, in Danish, is a popular historical overview of
music and DR (Michelsen et al. [eds.] 2018). The second, this one, presents each
project member’s contribution to the overall project – a total of 10 subprojects spanning
th stthe 20 and 21 centuries. The third reports from an international seminar on how
music radio contributed to the articulation of musical genres and nation-building
around the world. In addition to these anthologies, the project has resulted in a PhD
thesis by Katrine Wallevik as well as several articles by the members.
RAMUND was made possible by an earlier radio research project, the LARM
Audio Research Archive (2010-2014), a humanities research infrastructure for radio
and audio-cultural heritage. LARM’s main objective was to create an IT architecture
that ofers access to a huge cultural heritage archive. It has resulted in a digital online
platform, (, containing nearly all surviving broadcasts from
national radio and several from commercial radio and a digitised, searchable version
of all ‘programmes as broadcast’ (the DR programme log, from 1925 to around
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 11 29/06/18 09:482005). By November 2016 the collection consisted of a couple of million radio and
television programmes. also provides various search tools and
opportunities for organising, annotating and sharing material. In addition, RAMUND has
produced an annotated and tagged database containing a) all programme
information, including playlists from the frst week of November 1925 to 1962 with a focus
on music broadcasts, and b) all information about the Danish National Symphony
Orchestra’s main concert series 1928-2015 (the Thursday Concerts). Having access
to such archives and materials has fundamentally changed the prospects of Danish
radio research, and from 2010 to 2015 it spawned a rich milieu resulting in
anthologies, PhD theses and exhibitions. Since 2015 has been part of a national
digital humanities project, DIGHUMLAB (
We want to thank the many invited speakers at the RAMUND project seminars.
They have contributed more than they know. They are Alf Björnberg, Heiner Stahl,
Julio Arce, Kate Lacey, Paddy Scannell, Richard Witts, Jason Toynbee, Sune Auken,
Patrick Valiquet, Stig Hjarvard, Holger Schulze, Nick Prior, Golo Föllmer, Pedro
Moreira, Aaron Johnson, Andreas Lenander Ægidius, Marcio Giacomin Pinho,
Brian Fauteux, Mark Campbell, Johannes Müske, Giorgio Biancorosso, Eric
Weisbard, Meri Kytö, Heikki Uimonen and John Howland. We would also like to thank
Leif Wiwelsted, Karlo Staunskjær, Karin Fich, Esben Tange, Mathias Buch Jensen
and Niels Fez Pedersen, all seasoned programme presenters, mainly from DR.
They have participated in our seminars and answered more questions than anybody
could dream of. Also, thank you to Kåre Christensen for building the programme
database. Finally, we would like to thank the Independent Research Fund Denmark,
Humanities, which has made both RAMUND, the seminars and the publications
possible through a generous grant, and Aarhus University Reseach Foundation for
supporting this publication.
On behalf of RAMUND,
Morten Michelsen
Mads Krogh
Iben Have
Steen Kaargaard Nielsen
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 12 29/06/18 09:48Introduction
Music Radio Perspectives
This book is about a century of music and radio in Denmark. It is a book about the
many ways in which music and radio have intertwined. It is about programmes and
channels, presenters and listeners, music genres and programme genres,
stakeholders and conficts of interest and the all-dominant national broadcasting institution,
the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (Danmarks Radio or DR in the following).
In the intricate network of sounds, technologies, people and materialities that make
up music radio we identify and consider macro-social changes, and through detailed
analyses, we demonstrate the intertwining of practices that have surrounded and
permeated its production and still do. We have taken on the hyper-complexity of
the meetings and integrations of a modern mass medium, radio, and an established
cultural practice and art form, music, not in order to explain what they are ‘really all
about’ in a research perspective, but in order to contribute to the font of analytical
and theoretical knowledge about music radio as well as to continuing discussions
within the research feld.
Tunes for All? Music on Danish Radio consists of 10 chapters all resulting from
the research project RAMUND, a slightly adjusted acronym for ‘A Century of Radio
and Music in Denmark’ with the subtitle ‘Music Genres, Radio Genres, and
Mediatisation’. Despite the general acceptance that radio has had and still has a
tremendous infuence on music and musical life and, conversely, that diverse musical
practices have impacted on how radio was and is made, relatively few have taken
up the gauntlet from Adorno and other early radio scholars. It means that a host of
subjects ofer themselves for investigation, not least in a Danish context, where only
a few monographs and articles have appeared. Here we add 10 chapters addressing
very diferent topics in very diferent ways, but focusing more on programme
content and production and less on institutional and organisational history or media
reception. Hopefully, they will contribute to the international development of the
research area by critically refecting upon ways to study music radio and by drawing
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 13 29/06/18 09:48upon contemporary radio research and cultural musicology to raise fundamental
questions such as: What is music? What is radio? And how can we work with such
complex multiplicities with an open attitude and without reducing them to one or
the other?
Writing in the tradition of general radio studies (see below) Kate Lacey has
suggested some lines along which to understand and study radio if its complexities have
to be met:
[R]adio needs to be radically decentred if the challenges of writing cultural histories of
radio are to be met. […] It is an argument about the refusal to treat ‘radio’ as a discrete
object, but to accommodate its porous and shifting boundaries, be that in terms of
its technologies, its institutions, its texts or its listeners. It is also an argument about
contextualising ‘radio’ in the broadest terms, understanding how the discourses of
broadcasting have been interwoven with – produced by and reproducing –
of technology, class, gender, nation, public and private, sense perceptions and so on.
It is a call for radio to be studied as part of a wider matrix of communications media,
rather than in isolation, and in cross-cultural and cross-national contexts. Finally, […]
I also want to make a case that, alongside the thick description and critical analysis
of historically specifc programmes or stations, genres or audiences, cultural history
also requires a consideration of the longue-durée, to (re-)connect the ephemeral
incarnations of this most elusive form of communication with the deeper tides of
history. (2008, 22-23)
Lacey argues for transgressing the borders of radio studies characterised as
‘evidence-based analyses of radio past and present’ (2008, 21), and, taking her cue from
historiographical theory informed by cultural history, she argues for a more ‘messy’
history writing that even challenges the very concept of radio. However, this challenge
does not dissolve the concept of radio, as she reminds us that the feld of study is
never clear-cut, never completely defned, but always marked by ‘porous and shifting
boundaries’. As an object of study radio does not exist in and by itself. Instead, it is
always already a part of something else, and, therefore, the question ‘What is radio
and to whom?’ is always needed – together with a fne-tuned sensibility to its shifting
historical meanings (Lacey 2008, 25).
In the rest of this introduction, we present three paths leading to the chapters.
First, we ofer a brief overview of the positions, traditions and trajectories in
Western music radio research that are important to the chapters and serve to introduce
the feld of study of which this anthology is a part. Second, we provide a historical
sketch of music radio in Denmark. It is a reworked translation of the introduction
to Michelsen et al. (eds.) (2018), and it provides a general context for the chapters.
We make two incisions based on music’s contribution to changes in underlying
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 14 29/06/18 09:48notions of what constitutes entertainment and education and how this has afected
programming. The frst incision is in 1963 when the dedicated popular music channel
P3 began to broadcast, and the second is in 1992 when programming was reformed
based on a combination of distinct listener groups (segments) and specifc musical
genres with a view to developing tightly controlled playlists. The overview
demonstrates that the many tracks and traces of music radio are intertwined, sometimes
as Gordian knots, sometimes as parallel threads, and often in ways that challenge
periodical divides and evolutional narratives. Third, we discuss how the complexities
of the topic and research feld may be conceived in relation to the anthology’s general
framework. That is, we attempt a critical interrogation of what it means to study ‘a
century of radio and music in Denmark’ combined with short presentations of how
the chapters ft into this framework.
I: Music Radio Research
Morten Michelsen
Relations between music and radio have not been among the most popular topics
in either media studies or musicology, sociology, popular music or cultural
studies. Nevertheless, since the 1930s the contours of a research feld have gradually
emerged – a diverse feld marked by interdisciplinarity and rather weak relations
between predominantly national traditions (which makes it, of course, a feld only
in a weak sense). The insularity of national traditions of music radio research may
be due, in part, to researchers’ preoccupation with media use and institutions in
1their own countries along with language barriers. Moreover, inspiration from the
various disciplines just mentioned has gradually entered the feld, again with national
diferences, adding to its somewhat disjointed status.
Early research into music radio drew heavily on sociology, and after almost three
decades of nearly complete research silence from the 1950s to the 1970s due to the
impact of television, diferent combinations of media studies and musicology – often
with quite a sociological slant – came to dominate. As popular music studies
developed into a distinct feld of study in the 1990s, it also became an inspiration, not least
because some researchers’ main interest was pop music radio. This focus remains a
1 It is clear from their references that most researchers have stuck to literature in their own language,
some even to literature from their own country, even though, e.g. English-language literature
has been available.
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 15 29/06/18 09:48general characteristic of the feld today, as only a few have taken up subjects related
to art music, jazz or world music. The cultural studies tradition has taken an interest
in music and radio, and cultural history has been quite important as well. At the risk
of oversimplifying, one might argue that German-language music radio research has
tended to operate in a feld between the sociologically infuenced poles of qualitative
and quantitative studies. English-language research, on the other hand, has tended
towards traditions within cultural studies and cultural history. In the last decade
or so the idea that radio sounding is not just music radio, but every kind of sound
produced by the apparatus has gained ground, thus questioning the borders between
music and sound. Anthropology has also had a signifcant impact on music radio
research in recent years, in particular with scholars attempting to understand the
many uses of music radio among listeners and the details of music radio production.
Research into music radio has not turned into yet another ‘studies’, as there are as
yet no signs of institutionalisation. This adds to the caution with which we propose
to talk about a research feld, just as the outline of positions that we provide from
a (mainly North-Western) European point of view should be regarded as a basis of
Radio Studies
As an additional lead-in to this discussion, I will provide a brief note on perhaps
the closest feld of research to become a ‘studies’, namely radio studies. As a distinct
feld, radio studies is primarily present in the native English-speaking countries,
Canada, Australia, the UK and the US. Most radio researchers agree that research
into radio has been a somewhat neglected topic within mass media research, one
important reason being that television and flm research has dominated the feld
(Åberg 1999, 11; Lewis 2000; Hilmes 2002, 2-8). They also agree that over the last
two decades this situation has changed, especially in English-language countries,
but also to some extent in most European countries and several Latin American
countries (Hilmes 2002, 8; Lacey 2008, 21-22; Chignell 2009, 1; Chignell 2010).
The German situation is somewhat diferent, as radio studies has been an integrated
part of Studienkreis Rundfunk und Geschichte (study group for broadcasting and
2 It goes without saying that music radio research has been published in other languages than
German and English, and I will also refer to literature in the Roman and Scandinavian languages.
Language is still an obstacle, though, as I do not read Russian, Slavic or Greek. The vast scale of
research available in Western European languages alone prevents us from mentioning everything
here; therefore, we will mainly refer to monographs and anthologies.
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 16 29/06/18 09:483history). English-language radio studies has become institutionalised as a separate
feld within media studies by using the usual paraphernalia of academic
institution4 5alisation: journals focusing on radio, academic associations and research networks,
6 7conferences, a mailing list, university curricula (Starkey [2004] 2014, 25) and a
multi-volume encyclopedia (Sterling [ed.] 2004).
Theoretically, radio studies are very diverse, although the culturalist thinking
developed in the sphere of cultural studies has been a signifcant stimulus in forming
the feld, especially in the English-speaking parts of the world. Moreover, Chignell
(2010, 1235) points to a series of topics, which he considers the most researched:
talk radio, radio history, radio technology, relations between commercial and public
radio, genre studies (e.g. news, drama, features) and, fnally, to a small extent music
A primary reason for the rise in radio research over recent decades is the gradual
opening of radio archives. In some countries, these archives used to be completely
closed, even to researchers, while in others access could be gained, but without
sufcient tools for engaging in the often overwhelming amounts of material. In
general, archive politics have become more user-friendly, and following debates on
cultural heritage and digitisation, parts of radio archives have become accessible
online. The BBC genome project is probably the most voluminous, containing
programme information from as far back as 1923 and some of the surviving broadcasts
as sound fles. In some instances, processes of newspaper digitisation have included
radio magazines. One example is the Austrian radio magazine Radio Wien published
from 1924 to 1938. Both of these examples are accessible across national borders.
A project with more limited access is the Danish database mentioned in
3 The Studienkreis was founded in 1969. It holds annual meetings and has published Rundfunk und
Geschichte since 1976. In connection to this, German music radio scholars established a network
in 2015, Fachgruppe Musik im Radio, headed by Thomas Wilke. The French Cahiers d’Histoire de
la Radiodiffusion, which has been published since 1982, is a French-language parallel to Rundfunk
und Geschichte. The interested reader will fnd articles on music radio in both journals.
4 The American Journal of Radio & Audio Media since 1992, the British The Radio Journal: Inter‑
national Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media since 2003, the Brazilian Rádio‑Leituras since 2010
and the international ECREA-based Radio, Sound & Society Journal since 2016.
5 Among the research networks are GRER (Groupe de Recherches et d’Études sur la Radio, an
independent French organisation), Radio Studies Network (part of the UK-based Media,
Communication and Cultural Studies Association [MeCCSA]) and the Radio Research Section (part
of the European Communication Research and Education Association [ECREA]). A temporary
network was the EU-funded international research project Transnational Radio Encounters
(TRE) headed by Golo Föllmer.
6 Biannual conferences organised by the Radio Studies Network (since 1997) and the ECREA
Radio Research Section (since 2009), respectively.
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 17 29/06/18 09:48the foreword. By default, only Danish students and researchers have access to this
Radio Studies and Music
How, then, do practitioners of radio studies relate to music? Textbooks introducing
radio as such typically include a chapter on music, as they acknowledge the paramount
importance of music to programming (e.g. Crisell [1986] 1994, 48-52, 64-79;
Barnard 2000, 124-139; Starkey [2004] 2014, 89-118; Chignell 2009, 33-37; Dubber
2013, 75-100). It is also noticeable how some radio-historical studies have included
music either as a major narrative thread or in separate chapters (e.g. Scannell and
Cardif 1991; Méadel 1994; Douglas [1999] 2004; Jauert 1997a; 1997b; 2003a; Koch
and Glaser 2005; Lommers 2012; Kufert 2016).
Media scholar Andrew Crisell’s textbook Understanding Radio ([1986] 1994)
was among the frst books to reintroduce radio in the English-speaking world, and
because it has infuenced many later textbooks, there is reason to look at its claims
concerning music. While accepting music’s importance to radio, Crisell posits that
music is difuse and therefore difcult to analyse. Within his semiotic framework
he states that music ‘alone is insufciently meaningful’ ([1986] 1994, 64), and that
music radio ‘apparently consists of long stretches of the same thing in which the
only real variations are the changes of presenter – a kind of acoustic prairie where
there are no natural features to mark the boundaries, merely the arbitrary fences of
those who are working it’ ([1986] 1994, 65). He adds that modern music radio avoids
such ‘monotony’ because of its mix of nearly all radio genres (talk, music, phone-ins,
commercials, and so on).
What is striking in Crisell’s account is that music is so anonymous; it is merely
the vacant other of meaningful radio talk. Of course, radio-mediated music is very
often used as background – as a mood setter – but that does not make music blank.
Listeners still choose the music programmes as a background because of the music
they play, maybe not specifc artists, but specifc genres (Tacchi 2009), and
background can suddenly become foreground if the music you like is on the air. This way
of thinking about radio also seems to exclude certain contemporary music genres
and most of the pre-1960s radio based on live music. The notion that the DJ’s words
determine the meaning and signifcance of the music is rooted in a very strict
structuralist reading of semiotics. These views are echoed in much later textbooks, for
example Key Concepts in Radio Studies by Hugh Chignell (2009, 33), but discussions
within musicology and cultural theory moved beyond this point long ago and have
demonstrated that complex and nuanced processes of signifcation are at play (e.g.
Born 2005; Hennion [1993] 2015).
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 18 29/06/18 09:48 With a bow to radio theory pioneer Rudolf Arnheim ([1936] 1971, 133-203) Crisell
begins his book by stating that radio is a blind medium. There is nothing to see. As
Chignell (2009, 63-67) states, this has also caused debate. For example, Shingler
and Wieringa state that the handicap metaphor is not well-chosen, as it was in fact
not Crisell’s intention to highlight a defciency. Instead, they suggest talking about
radio’s invisibility and ascribing to radio a visual dimension because of the
imagination involved in listening (1998, 73-93). In this way, Shingler and Wieringa also
acknowledge diferent ways of listening depending on what is listened to, where it is
listened to, who is doing the listening, and that the borders between these categories
are hard (and maybe unnecessary) to defne. As will appear below, studying music
radio may be a particularly potent route to complexifying the meaning production
radio may trigger and how producers’ and listeners’ imaginations enter into this.
Early Music Radio Research and Sociology
Understanding this meaning production was important even to early music radio
research, as broadcasting radio became an integral and defning part of inter-war
mass culture. Mathematical statistical analyses of listener questionnaires
concerning programming became contested tools for deciding on strategies. Such research
either became embedded in broadcasting corporations or in privately funded,
university-based research institutes such as Paul Lazarsfeld’s Princeton Radio Research
Project which was founded in 1937 (e.g. Bausch et al. 1980, vol. 4; Desmond [ed.]
1996; Björnberg 1998, 33-36). The quantitative analyses of listeners’ preferences
had music as one focus, as listeners were asked if they wanted more, less or the same
quantity of specifc genres. Lazarsfeld made the questionnaires more complex in
search of broader listener profles, and he invited Theodor Adorno to join his US
research project to focus on music.
However, even before this US development, in 1931 Hungarian conductor
Alfred Szendrei published what is probably the frst musicological thesis on music
and radio, Rundfunk und Musikpfege, which sees all music come together for the
frst time in radio programming and discusses how radio as a mass medium and
musical life in general infuenced each other in a mainly educational perspective.
Radio also challenged philosophically, politically and artistically inclined writers
like Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht to theorise the new phenomenon. Both
contributed to the discussions of what radio was and how it might be used for
artistic and political ends, while flm and art theoretician Rudolf Arnheim presented
a comprehensive proposal for a radio aesthetics in his book Radio (1936, written
in German, but published in English). To Arnheim, music and broadcasting were
the only two forms of art that depended exclusively on the sense of hearing (1936,
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 19 29/06/18 09:4822). He made the traditional ideal of the formal integration of art music the basis
of a broadcasting aesthetics:
[M]usic is the purest embodiment of the essence of broadcasting, but at the same time
it is also the richest feld of wireless efect, only because in the feld of pure and no
longer representational sound the whole depth of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic
relations can be employed, and it is these things which constitute the inexhaustible
mine of expression in music. (1936, 196-197)
This part of Arnheim’s music (and broadcasting) aesthetics is extremely idealist and
in stark contrast to, for example, Brecht’s thoughts on radio and the social (1932). It
is interesting, nevertheless, because it demonstrates his use of art music to explain
radio and to legitimise the new medium. It is also interesting because part of his
argument is based on considerations about sound, music and space constituting an
abstract spatiality and implying a similar hearing perspective, a quite novel thought
at the time.
Despite the obvious interdependence of music and media, most musicologists
have chosen to examine music as if media were transparent. However, in developing
a sociology of music, understanding how radio works in relation to music cultures
became important to researchers like Theodor Adorno, Alphons Silbermann and
Kurt Blaukopf. Some of the authors associated with the Frankfurt School specifcally
took up the relations between culture and media. Benjamin did not touch upon music,
but his famous essay on ‘The Artwork …’ ([1936] 1963) could very well be read as a
comment upon music as mass-mediated. Adorno, for one, read it like that, and partly
in response to this he developed a detailed and scathing critique of music and mass
8media. Due to the increasing commodity character of music (a process radio helped
further), the symphony, for example, became a mere stimulus, something which could
be listened to without concentration or efort, causing it to lose its internal coherence
and its frail balance between detail and whole – it became distorted, fetishised and
atomised. To Adorno, music’s commodity character even more apparent in
contemporary popular music, because it was composed for the radio and followed a
8 The article ‘On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening’ (Adorno 1938)
was one of the frst important published texts to develop this (radio-related) critique. It was
written before Adorno was hired to do actual radio research with Lazarsfeld in the Princeton Radio
Research Project. This resulted in only a few published articles: ‘On Popular Music’ (1941a), ‘The
Radio Symphony: An Experiment in Theory’ (1941b) and ‘A Social Critique of Radio Music’
(1945). In 2006 Robert Hullot-Kentor published a 500-page book, Current of Music: Elements
of a Radio Theory, containing most of Adorno’s non-published writing on radio leading up to
and during his work for the Princeton project (Adorno [2006] 2009).
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 20 29/06/18 09:48schema of standardisation and pseudo-individualisation, two concepts that became
central to Adorno’s culture industry criticism. Adorno ascribed to radio the same
characteristics that he saw in popular music, so that medium and music in many ways
apparently merged. Among the radio characteristics he mentions are ‘the haunting
similarity between most musical programs’, that radio ‘serves to keep listeners from
criticizing social realities’, and that radio has contributed to a ‘regression in listening’
(1945, 212-214).
In 1954 Alphons Silbermann, another German sociologist with a particular
interest in music, took up the question of music and radio in his La musique, la radio
et l’auditeur. Étude sociologique, a 200-page research report on the relations between
music, radio and society commissioned by Radiodifusion-Télévision Francaise. His
empiricist stance positioned him in opposition to Adorno. The report was
fundamentally descriptive from a structuralist and functionalist perspective and targeted only
art music. The functions chosen for analysis or description include radio as patron,
as composer, as educationalist and interpreter, as musicologist, as impresario, as
programme planner and as sound technician.
German Music Radio Research in the 1980s
and 1990s
Hardly anyone took up the thread from these pioneering eforts, and throughout the
91960s and 1970s (music) radio research experienced almost complete silence. Only
in the following decades did the subject once again attract more serious attention, in
Germany thanks to a new generation of young scholars doing their doctoral theses.
Here, methodologically explicit sociology met with inspiration from the emerging
feld of popular music studies, mainly in its German rendition. Around 15
musicollogical doctoral theses were defended and often published as well between 1982 and
9 In their Grove Music Online entry on ‘Radio’ Goslich et al. (2017) mention only a few titles
published during the two decades, while Åberg et al. (1999) document the dearth of general radio
studies in the same period. The major exceptions are a few general broadcasting histories, which
of course include radio: Asa Briggs’ fve-volume history of the BBC (1961-1995; the frst four
volumes were published in 1961, 1965, 1970 and 1979), Erik Barnouw’s three-volume history of
US broadcasting (1966, 1968, 1970) and Bausch et al.’s fve volumes on German broadcasting
(1980). Concerning music radio, Austrian musicologist Kurt Blaukopf needs to be mentioned.
From the 1950s to the 1990s he had a continuous interest in the relations between music and
media and developed the term mediamorphosis (mediamorphose) to describe the metamorphosis
of music through the adaption of the musical message to technical conditions, the use of technical
possibilities for musical messages and the changes in musical reception caused by adaptions and
uses of possibilities (1989, 5-6).
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 21 29/06/18 09:482001. Remaining in the traditions of German musicology and media studies they all
dealt with German (or Swiss) (Engeler 1993) radio, both East German (Görnandt
1990) and West German, and they were based on the systematic treatment of large
amounts of empirical data either from archives or collected by the authors
themselves. Most of them discuss questions of contemporary popular music radio
focusing on programme planning and radio infuences on popular culture (Sieber 1982;
Görnandt 1990; Münch 1991; Sirch 1992; Handke 1995; Wernsing 1995; Gushurst
2000), while some (also) others turn to the issue of radio’s articulation of the high/
low divide (Behr 1991; Engeler 1993; Wernsing 1995; Stapper 2001).
The number of theses and the breadth of their themes indicate that music radio
10was not a neglected topic in pre-millennium Germany. The chapters on music
programming written by Ludwig Stofels and Susanna Grossmann-Vendrey,
respectively, in the two-volume Programmgeschichte des Hörfunks in der Weimarer Republik
from 1997 testify to this as well. They analyse the daily programme schedules and
present a music radio genres system, while also explaining radio’s role in German
musical life in a broader sense, thus combining systematisation of a considerable
range of materials with a culture-historical perspective. It is a detailed discussion of
the development of German programming during the frst 10 years of radio and of
single music radio genres including their intricate relationships. At the same time,
they ground such discussions in the broader cultural concerns of the times, like
mechanical music, new technologies for recording and distribution and cultural
mediations between high and low.
Anglo-American Perspectives: Social History
and Cultural Studies
Since the 1980s researchers arguing for the necessity of social or cultural history
have contributed to radio historiography in response to earlier paradigms of purely
institutional and technological histories (Lacey 2008, 26) or historical narratives
inspired by literary history (Bondebjerg 2002, 63). Media scholar Paddy Scannell
questioned the frst 25 years of BBC music policy (1981), while popular music
scholar Simon Frith discussed the BBC’s formation of light music entertainment
in the same period ([1983] 1988). Both adhered to a social history perspective.
While the focus on radio has only popped up intermittently in Frith’s later work,
10 See also Handke (1995, 40-51) for a discussion of how German musicology has taken up radio
under the infuence of the social sciences and Gushurst (2000, 21-25) for a review of German
music radio research.
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 22 29/06/18 09:48Scannell’s article led to the important book A Social History of British Broadcasting,
Volume One 1922‑1939: Serving the Nation (1991) written together with David
Cardif. They devote two substantial chapters to music and radio (and two others
to variety). Their general framework might be termed sociocultural historiography,
and their feld of enquiry is frst that of production understood as programme policy,
planning and making, and second that of social connections between production
and consumption understood as relations between institutions, programmes and
audiences (1991, xi). The music chapters contain a long series of sharp observations
and conclusions concerning the relations between radio and musical life in general
based on their archival research, for example that thanks to the BBC unionisation
among musicians grew sharply, that the BBC contributed a great deal to the idea
of music as a single and quite abstract cultural feld, and that the BBC accepted
both ‘serious’ and popular music by imposing separate standards of quality (1991,
While Scannell and Cardif did their research, Stephen Barnard published On
the Air: Music Radio in Britain (1989), probably the frst English-language extended
academic study of the relations between music and radio. The frst half is concerned
with a history of British music radio, the other half with four programming studies
(music industry infuence, music programming in general, and daytime and evening
radio). His theoretical framework is not made explicit (1989, x). Nevertheless, his
take is more cultural than institutional history, and the focus is on the decisions of
programme producers and how they have been infuenced by wars, governmental
politics, the music industry, and so on. Among his key points are that the music radio
conventions established by the BBC in its frst two decades of existence are still active
in both licence- and advertising-fnanced radio stations; that the pirate radios of
the 1960s infuenced neither radio nor popular music to any great extent; and that
it is important to investigate the relationships between radio and music producers
(record companies, musicians, publishers; 1989, 1-2).
Apart from the Frith article mentioned above, the developing popular music (and
cultural) studies contributed a few other seminal articles. Jody Berland’s ‘Radio Space
and Industrial Time: Music Formats, Local Narratives and Technological Mediation’
(1990) is probably one of the most quoted and anthologised texts on music radio.
In this and two other articles ([1993] 2012; 1994) she analyses then contemporary
music radio in Canada, among other things commenting upon how the interplay
between radio and the music industry combined local listeners and international pop:
‘If radio is local, then most of what we hear is not’ (1990, 189). Berland’s specifc
mix of communication, cultural and popular music studies, informed by French
post-structuralist thinking, is an early example of the critically refexive impetus
which later came to mark a renewed research interest in Anglo-American (music)
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 23 29/06/18 09:48 Despite such prominent work, music radio research did not develop substantially
in the Anglo-American sphere during the 1990s. A few doctoral theses on music radio
came about, but Jennifer Doctor’s archive-based study on the BBC and ultra-modern
art music (1999) was the frst to be published. General radio studies, though, took
of in this period, not least thanks to Paddy Scannell’s work in the feld ([ed.] 1991;
1996) and the early monographs by Kate Lacey (1996) and Michele Hilmes (1997).
Hilmes introduced her take on history with this question: ‘Traditionally, histories of
broadcasting begin with technology […] What if, instead, we regard radio […] as a
social practice grounded in culture [… as] a series of small crises in cultural control
[…]’ (1997, xiii). She has become the leading US representative of this paradigm
in her monographs (1997; [2002] 2013; 2012) and in several edited and co-edited
volumes (Hilmes and Loviglio [eds.] 2002; Loviglio and Hilmes [eds.] 2013). Not
least thanks to these authors, cultural history might be said to be the ruling paradigm
within historiographic radio studies.
Music Radio Anthropology in France, the US
and Scandinavia
Popular music studies was one of the disciplines which Berland referred to, and
before her, a couple of scholars with sociology backgrounds and with relations to
popular music studies had written on popular music and radio. Frith was one, French
Antoine Hennion another, who together with historian Cécile Méadel published the
article ‘Programming Music: Radio as Mediator’ (1986). It is an early example of the
anthropology of music radio. Based on feldwork, they studied music programming
at the radio station RTL (formerly Radio Luxembourg). Their main point is that
media, through a series of mediations (a term central to Hennion’s work in general),
construct their programmes and their audiences. Radio’s function is described as
a medium that changes talk and music into programmes by mixing its ingredients
(records, commercials, entertainment and news) and producing a ‘unity of tone which
characterizes a station’ (1986, 285). Due to its place in the fow, music on the radio
is fundamentally changed by being part of a larger whole. The music is not just the
broadcast of a recording:
Music serves radio as much as radio serves music. Radio gives to music that specifc use
which is reproduced in listeners, who also no longer use the radio simply as a neutral
intermediary which transmits the sound they want. On the contrary, by the means of
radio a new use of music has been constructed, which is completely irreducible to the
other forms of listening at their disposal. Radio grants an audience to music as it does
to advertising. (1986, 294)
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 24 29/06/18 09:48This is a succinct analysis of the interdependence between music and radio, and
Hennion and Méadel continue by pointing to the construction of the audience by
the media (including radio). It is constructed not as an empirical entity, but as a
representation helped along by a recording industry delivering links to an audience
along with the phonograms. In addition, RTL’s programming staf also served as
an ideal audience, and listeners participating via telephone in programmes came to
function as representatives of the ‘whole’ audience’ (1986, 297).
US media scholar Eric Rothenbuhler (1985) also did an ethnographic study
somewhat similar to the work of Hennion and Méadel. He asked several of the same
questions, but used statistical calculations to answer them. A signifcant fnding was
that local programme planners relied on national industry charts to make
programming decisions rather than on local information of some sort or another. Based on
other materials, this point is repeated in Rothenbuhler and McCourt (1987) with
the added prediction that ‘[t]he trend towards homogenization will increase as the
degree of concentration and control in the recording industry continues to grow’
(1987, 113).
In Scandinavia probably the frst monograph on music and radio was written by
Danish musicologist Per Drud Nielsen (1981). Connecting with the German music-
sociological tradition, he wrote about how popular music radio contributed to the
formation of the everyday. It was a one-of project. The same cannot be said of the
Swedish Ether Media project which has sponsored research into media history for
more than 20 years. By now there are more than 30 books in the series, one of which
is Alf Björnberg’s Skval och harmoni: Musik i radio och TV 1925‑95. Björnberg chooses
a media perspective for his ‘ether media music history’, warning that media studies
tend to ignore detailed content, while musicology tends to see media as transparent,
and he hopes to build a bridge between the two (1998, 14-15). In constructing a
historical narrative, he turns to music genre and the negotiations between high and low,
and his aim is to survey the entire history as a composite whole (1998, 17). Taking
his lead from Georgina Born, he considers his method institutional ethnography,
a mapping of the inner dynamics of programme-producing departments and their
infuence on the actual programme designs (1998, 18). Another important Swedish
publication is Carin Åberg’s The Sounds of Radio: On the Radio as an Auditive Means
of Communication (1999). She does not address music as such, but she is among the
frst to take radio seriously as a sounding medium and suggests a theory of radio as
a sounding mass medium consisting of both journalistic and aesthetic forms (1999,
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 25 29/06/18 09:48Music Radio and Multidisciplinarity after the Turn of
the Millennium
Since the late 1990s research on music radio has become a multidisciplinary afair
in earnest because of the increasingly globalised state of scholarly work. This
condition has eased the exchange of national traditions, adding to the coherence of the
research feld which we are attempting to map. Attempts at providing an overview
11of music radio history are still predominantly written from a national perspective.
However, even in this area Hilmes and Lacey have argued for an opening towards
transnational concerns, and thanks to some of the researchers involved in the
Transnational Radio Encounters research project a few publications have been produced
following this route (Badenoch 2010; 2013a; 2013b; Föllmer 2013; 2016). Moreover,
Suzanne Lommers has written a full chapter on music politics in her book on the
International Broadcasting Union (2012, 235-288).
Another exciting feature pertaining to recent research on music radio history is
the range of topics taken up by various authors – what might be regarded as a
tendency towards increased historiographical diversifcation. Examples are Rumpf’s (2007)
and Stahl’s (2010) enquiries into 1960s German radio, in general a period not much
studied, Baade’s (2012) detailed study of the BBC and popular music during the
Second World War, Kim Simpson’s (2011) exploration of the 1970s US format radio, Eric
Weisbard’s (2014) discussion of how formats helped articulate the pop-rock split along
with other generic demarcations in US popular music, and Brian Fauteux’s (2015)
investigation of Canadian campus radio as an alternative to commercial radio.
While Simpson and Weisbard investigate format radio from a historical
perspective, this topic has also been revitalised in recent years by scholars considering current
media industry developments. In this respect, Ahlkvist contributed a series of studies
around the turn of the millennium, nuancing established views on format radio as a
11 Examples are Chew ([ed.] 2007) on Czechoslovakia, Kurkela et al. ([eds.] 2010) on Finland and
Michelsen et al. ([eds.] 2018) on Denmark. The early radio years, until the Second World War
(or the Spanish Civil War), have attracted some attention in monographs by Bennet (2007) on
France and Arce (2008) on Spain. Esteban (2000) has focused on Spanish music radio after
around 1960. Earlier examples of monographs are Eberly (1982) on US radio and popular mus ic,
Barnard (1989) on UK radio and Björnberg (1998) on Swedish radio, while later examples include
Mortensen (2010) on jazz on Danish radio. Radio symphony orchestras, being the most impressive
(and expensive) expressions of music radio, have had their academic historians as well: Kenyon
(1981) on the BBC symphony orchestra, Granau (2000) on the Danish National Symphony
Orchestra, Pine (2005) on Ireland’s RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert
Orand van den Buys and Segers (eds.) (2013) on the Brussels Philharmonic. Moreover,
two of the aforementioned German doctoral theses concerned light music orchestras (Engeler
1993; Behr 1991).
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 26 29/06/18 09:48means of rationalisation as held by Berland and others (Ahlkvist and Fisher 2000;
Ahlkvist 2001; Ahlkvist and Faulkner 2008). Later contributions include Rossman
(2012) focusing on the role of format radio in the difusion of musical novelty, while
Dubber (2013) provides a discussion of the consequences of digitisation, one of which
is the convergence of radio with other media apparatuses (PCs, smartphones, tablets,
and so on.) and platforms (e.g. music streaming services), which in turn sustains the
need for refective enquiries into radio as a diverse or decentred phenomenon (cf.
Lacey 2008, quoted on p. 14). Another consequence of music radio’s digitisation is
that the datasets are getting ever larger. This points to a line of quantitative research,
of which the radio industry and national radio corporations themselves have a strong
tradition (either through in-house research departments or via commercial research
agencies). Holger Schramm is among the recent researchers who, from an academic
standpoint, stress empirical quantitative research and statistical processing related
to public broadcasting corporations’ and commercial research agencies’ ways of
doing research and posing much the same questions (cf. Schramm’s contributions
to Schramm [ed.] 2008).
Another tendency seen in recent years’ music radio research concerns the textual
analysis of programmes and programming. This has not been a major endeavour,
but in our view a signifcant one, supplementing the contextual inclination present
in, for example, studies of media-institutional and macro-social developments. In
Radio in the Global Age David Hendy suggests a useful framework and a series of
central terms for contemporary music radio production which can be used for analytic
purposes (2000, 69-114 and 168-177). More recently Carin Åberg has suggested a
sound analytics for radio in Radioanalys. Att undersöka lyssnare och program (2012).
It provides a general introduction to programme analysis aimed at students. In
‘Theoretical-methodical Approaches to Radio Aesthetics: Qualitative Characteristics of
Channel-Identity’ (2013) Golo Föllmer has taken up the analysis of radio stations’
channel identities from a sound perspective. He suggests analysing radio sound
according to musical parameters like timing, rhythm and mixing levels to consider the
use of sound-processing tools as well as the use of station IDs and jingles. The aim is
to identify what makes diferent radio formats sound diferent from one another, and
he lists a long series of qualitative features relevant to sound-directed programme
analysis (2013, 335-339). As a fnal example, Danish Torben Sangild has proposed
a model for how radio jingles signify in an analysis of Radiolab’s sound signature
(Sangild 2012; Stockfelt et al. 2012). The model consists of fve aspects of
signifcation: a formal/structural, an indexical perceptual, a gestural/virtual perceptual, a
discursive contextual and a function-contextual (i.e. radio programme) aspect.
Another and perhaps broader tendency stems from the anthropology of media,
which has fourished since the 1990s (Bessire and Fisher [eds.] 2012, 9), and which
has led researchers to do ethnographic work on radio stations: Tim Wall (1999) on a
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 27 29/06/18 09:48commercial music station in Birmingham addressing questions of identity, and Mark
Percival (2007) interviewing key people from the BBC and commercial stations in
addition to music industry people in order to shed light on the relations between
industry and radio. In New Zealand Charles Fairchild has produced a similar study
on the relations between music industry and radio, but with a focus on how
community radio stations, when presenting music, contribute to ‘creat[ing] open, civil
and potentially democratic social relationships’ (2012, 4).
A key fgure in developing an anthropology of music radio is Jo Tacchi. Her
doctoral thesis, Radio Sound as Material Culture in the Home (1997), demonstrates
an important change in perspective from an interest in production and ‘what went
on in the studio’ to a focus on listeners’ many uses of music radio. Moreover, she
dispends with a narrow conception of music to also consider radio as sound:
Coming from the perspective of material culture studies, I look beyond the text of
radio programmes, and consider radio sound as a sensory entity. Sound itself is thus
seen to contribute to domestic environments in a ‘material culture’ way world. […]
Through examining the use of radio sound in the home we can see how meanings
and relationships are negotiated and made, both within the household and beyond.
(1997, 15)
She has developed this perspective in a range of publications, most recently in her
contribution to Bessire and Fisher’s edited volume Radio Fields: Anthropolog and
Wireless Sound in the 21st Century (2012), which, as the title suggests, testifes to the
current importance of anthropology to radio studies. This is also the case with another
anthology, Jason Toynbee and Byron Dueck’s Migrating Music (2011), which has a
consistent musical focus (as opposed to Bessire and Fisher [eds.] 2012), though only
four articles thematise music radio either based on anthropological feldwork or as
reports on the mediation of world music.
The focus on listening introduced by Tacchi has been developed beyond the
context of radio anthropology by Kate Lacey, among others, who devoted an entire
book to theorising and historicising ‘the listening relation in modern public life rather
than focus[sing] on what was listened to’ (2013, 6). In order to avoid traditional
dichotomies of listening (e.g. listening/not listening) she suggests that ‘listening in’ and
‘listening out’ are more productive terms indicating that there is always some kind
of listening at stake beyond the dichotomy of active/passive. She develops this point
in relation to the radiogenic, that is, broadcasts that investigate and challenge radio’s
possibilities (2013, 93). While approaches to listening are often related to theories
of identity and subjectivity, Lacey discusses what kinds of ‘listening publics’ radio
may engender. Alternatively, radio has by some researchers been considered part of
public soundscapes or, to quote Brian Currid, ‘the acoustics of publicity’ (2006, 13).
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 28 29/06/18 09:48By ‘acoustics’ he means an ‘empirical description of the ideological conditions – ma -
terial and “cognitional” – that determined the sonic experience of the public’ (2006,
13) as well as their historicity. Music and music on the radio, of course, constituted
one important determinant in this, and Currid’s aim is to complexify music radio’s
various roles during the Weimar and Nazi regimes and how it constituted diferent
12audiences (2006, 21-64).
At the time of writing, Christina Baade and James Deaville’s edited anthology
Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences (2016)
is the latest major publication on music and radio and probably the one most
closely related to this volume. Half of the 14 chapters deal with (mainly) US radio (the
other half takes up television). Four of them discuss 1920s and 1930s radio based on
archival studies and focus on themes like liveness and genre, while the other three
investigate radio formats, Internet radio and prison community radio based on
ethnography. The chapters demonstrate approaches similar to ours, as they investigate
the cultural complexities of which music radio is always a part.
We end this attempt to provide an overview of tendencies in music radio research
by restating its tentative character. Much valuable work has not been mentioned,
and more could, of course, have been said about individual contributions, traditions
and infuences. Furthermore, insofar as it makes sense to talk about research on
music radio as a research feld, it is only in a weak – interdisciplinary and primarily
topical – sense. For these and other reasons, we consider the overview a starting
point for discussion, and we proceed along equally tentative lines in order to paint
a picture of the history of Danish music radio.
II: Danish Music Radio
The RAMUND research team
Music, Mass Media and Democracy
Between the two world wars radio landed like a UFO in the middle of Danish
musical and cultural life. It was voices without bodies, music without musicians. It was
listening to something that went on in an entirely diferent place. The sounds came
from far away, but were close by, and they mixed faraway places with the sounds of
12 See Scales (2016) for a related study focusing on French radio as part of inter-war auditory
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 29 29/06/18 09:48DR’s frst head of operations, bass singer Emil Holm (1867‑1950) at his desk in 1925, the year he
became head of operations. Notice the contemporary communication technologies in the picture:
the radio receiver in the back, the telephone and the latest loudspeaker model on the table. In 1914
Holm had returned to Denmark after nearly 20 years on German opera stages. One of his major
engagements was at the court theatre in Stuttgart where he was appointed royal court singer. He
used this title for the rest of his life and became known in radio circles simply as ‘the Court Singer’.
At the end of the First World War he became engaged in music politics, frst in the plans to establish
a full‑time symphonic orchestra in Copenhagen (a plan he only realised with the Danish National
Symphony Orchestra), then as chair at Dansk Solist‑Forbund (Danish Union of Soloists) and
from 1923 as artistic counsellor for Dansk Radioklub (the Danish Radio Club). Holm came to
defne DR’s music politics and acted as the radio’s representative to the world with loyal support
from the Radio Council chair, Chamberlain Christian Lerche. Holm’s legendary diligence and
uncompromising attitude made him well respected among friends and enemies, and his work on
building up the organisation, not least the future music section, had profound repercussions in the
following decades. Holm retired in 1937 after having supervised daily work on the development of
DR from almost nothing to a large corporation in its frst 12 years.
one’s own living room. It was a strange new technology, which for many was hard to
fathom (Larsen and Nielsen 2018). Nevertheless, it entered most homes before the
outbreak of the Second World War. Radio became a source of education, information,
entertainment and a sort of Eldorado for music educationists, music salesmen and
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 30 29/06/18 09:48music fans, among others. The many interests gave rise to debates, one of the most
basic concerning the balance between education and information, on the one hand,
and entertainment, on the other. This debate lives on to this day as the debate on
the obligations of public service institutions – and music has very often been at the
centre of these controversies.
Performing this balancing act on a daily basis, programme presenters have played
quite a lot of music belonging neither to one nor to the other extreme, but instead to
the rich repertoire of light and popular music somewhere ‘in between’. Balancing
entertainment and education also entailed an ideal of supporting democratic processes.
thThis has been one aspect of mass media since the second half of the 19 century
(Lehrmann 1997, 192) – including radio when it frst came about in the 1920s. The
aim was (and is) to ensure that everybody – frst through primary school and then
through more informal supplementary education ofered via, for example, media or
night schools – learned to act as independent citizens in a changing world. Through
the years DR has broadcasted many words to this efect, and the many music
programmes have contributed equally to these ideas of democracy and participation.
The balance has always been challenged by contemporary cultural beliefs, by
political deals and ideals and by commercial interests. The very question of balancing
diferent kinds of music only became relevant when radio became popular in the
1920s. Paddy Scannell and David Cardif have pointed out that the BBC during its
frst years juxtaposed many diferent musical practices from diferent regions and
social classes under a common idea of one music (1991, 182). This happened in
Denmark as well. All music came to belong to the same basic category, which then
had many diferent aspects. The attribution of value to specifc genres has changed
considerably through the years, but the acceptance of many diferent kinds of music
under one idea has continued. Despite this, the balancing will always be contestable.
It implies a dilemma, which cannot be solved, but also a dilemma that has functioned
13as a motor for public service radio.
Establishing a middle ground between high and low resulted in light music, and
later pop music, taking up most of the daily schedule. The consequence was not that
all genres were represented (some remained too vile or too amateurish, e.g. the music
of the streets and low dives), but in the decades following the Second World War,
DR broadcasted a still more comprehensive selection of music. Only seldom were
all listeners content, but nearly everyone could fnd something to listen to. In recent
decades the wide selection has once again been narrowed down, as ‘specialist’ music
has been downgraded. Instead of letting music become an argument for and part
13 Questions of repertoire and cultural value in relation to early Danish radio are discussed in detail
by Michelsen in this volume.
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 31 29/06/18 09:48of a cultural diversity, DR has chosen to divide its listeners into groups defned by
age and social standing, which they then cater for with music that DR assumes they
like. It is a somewhat diferent understanding of the public service obligation, but it
demonstrates that the changing uses of music are closely related to radio producers’
and parliament’s understandings of the concept of public service (Søndergaard 2006).
Live Music on the Air (1925-1962)
A broadcast on Christmas Eve 1906 by the Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden
playing the violin, playing a record and reciting the Bible is often mentioned as the
frst ever broadcast (Sterling and Kittross [1978] 2002, 44). He was the most recent
of a number of inventors and researchers who had contributed to the development
thof radio technology throughout the 19 century. Experiments concerning regular
broadcasts fourished after the First World War, frst in Holland, Argentina and the
US and a bit later in the UK. US politicians accepted a privately owned and
commercially funded broadcasting system, as did most of Southern Europe (or a combination
of private and public as in e.g. France). In Northern Europe state-concessioned,
non-commercial corporations became the norm.
The frst broadcast to be produced in Denmark was the Danish Radio Club’s
relay of an evening of song, speech and music in October 1922 (Skovmand [ed.]
1975, 11-12). As in Fessenden’s broadcast, music was central. In the following years,
programmes in Danish with an international music repertoire became everyday
occurrences (Skovmand [ed.] 1975, 22-24). The radio became both a fad and a societal
issue that engaged politically and socially committed citizens who discussed the
socalled ‘radio issue’ (radiosagen), that is, the many technological and societal issues
introduced by the new medium and the practical organisation of the many interests in
private organisations and clubs. An integral part of the radio issue was the bickering
among these clubs. Emil Holm was a prominent actor in this, and his club became
the leading one. That was a primary reason why he was appointed head of the frst
state-led experiments with radio in 1925. In the previous years he had developed a
radio programming practice which he implemented in the new organisation. This
meant that the transition from private to public radio was unremarkable in terms
of programming, and that commercially sponsored programmes appeared during
14the frst year despite the public takeover.
14 For example, on 6 June 1925 one programme was sponsored by the company Simonsen og Nielsen.
Two days later Køge Turistforening (Køge Tourist Association) was responsible for a broadcast
about Køge, a provincial town south of Copenhagen. Record companies arranged broadcasts
thas well, for example A/S Polyphon on 14 September and 16th November 1925. This practice
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 32 29/06/18 09:48 On 1 April 1925 Statsradiofonien (the Danish State Radio Corporation) began a
one-year test period as the state took over formal responsibility for the programmes
which the established clubs continued to broadcast on the existing transmission
networks. The government and the parliament had decided that the state would control
all radio activities and ultimately be responsible for the programmes. ‘Ultimately’
because the immediate responsibility was given to a semi-independent radio council
consisting of representatives from the civil service, the radio industry, the press and
listener organisations. In the following decade politicians managed to ease their way
in as well. This situation became permanent in 1926 through Lov nr. 45 af 13.3.1926
om Radiospredning (Act No. 45 on Radio Dissemination), which confrmed the state’s
monopoly on broadcasting. In the act, the only mention of programming was this:
15‘The programmes are of a varied cultural and educational nature’.
For a long time the Radio Council, the head of operations and the programme
producers agreed that ‘a varied cultural and educational nature’ meant that the radio’s
programme policy should be based on relatively conservative, nationalistic and highbrow
ideals (Svendsen 2015). As a mass medium, DR was obligated to educate the population
so that it might appreciate the best of European culture, so that it was kept informed
about important issues, and so that it might adopt a more nuanced view of Denmark as
16a nation-state and what it meant to be Danish. Radio as entertainment and as a tool
for relaxation for the family head when he returned from work was only mentioned in
a few asides. Scrutinising the daily schedules makes it clear that programme planners
prioritised the secondary radio function, as light music flled most of the airtime.
The many music programmes caused new aspects of music and its uses to appear.
One aspect was quantitative. The old cliché that ‘never has so much music been
available’ was as relevant then as it is now. And one might add ‘and for so many’. At
the same time, whole genres were not available to listeners via the new medium: The
rowdy music of the dives, ultra-modern music and genres like local traditional music
and hot jazz were not well-represented. Another aspect was practical, in the sense
that it became possible to listen to the radio in the privacy of one’s own living room.
Of course, music had also been part of the home’s soundscape before the advent of
radio, but only periodically, when somebody either sang, played an instrument or
stopped during 1926 (source: the ‘programmes as broadcast’ for the days in question; www.larm.
15 Historian Roar Skovmand has dealt with early Danish radio from political and institutional
perspectives in his contributions to the research volume DR 50 published when DR turned 50
(1975, 11-152). Media scholar Ib Poulsen has accounted in detail for the years until 1930 from a
programme policy perspective (2006b, 139-218).
16 In this volume, Charlotte Rørdam Larsen discusses how nation-building performed by the radio
was a contested process in the early years of radio.
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 33 29/06/18 09:48Season Licence holders
1926/1927 130,805
1930/1931 437,929
1934/1935 579,562
1938/1939 774,097
1942/1943 956,334
1946/1947 1,073,833
1950/1951 1,195,564
Table 1: The number of radio licence holders every fourth season in Denmark 1926‑1951 (Statistical
Yearbook 1926‑1952, based on information from DR). The statistics include only licence holders,
which means that the number of actual listeners is much higher. During the frst 25 years, we assume
that 70‑90 per cent of the population could listen to the radio at home. In the same period, the
population grew from 3.4 million (1925) to 4.3 million (1950). For many years, Denmark had the
highest number of radio sets per capita in Europe. The reasons for this might be the fat land where
radio signals could travel without meeting many natural obstacles, the high density of population
and the fact that the population was slightly more well off than in most other countries. Two years
after the beginning of national radio, radio signals reached nearly all parts of the country.
put a record on the gramophone. Listening to the radio, you could daydream to the
continuous accompaniment of music.
In this way, radio became the frst widespread medium to deliver continuous streams
of music to any citizen who could aford a receiver. Music was by far the largest single
programming area measured in both broadcast hours and expenses. To our knowledge,
nobody at that time speculated why music was appointed such a position. One reason
might be that it was relevant to use established cultural forms with an aural aspect in
this primarily auditive medium. Theatre plays and recitation became important to
programming, but they retained their ‘event’ character, and music was used in that way
as well. Music’s ubiquity on the airwaves probably has to do with much music being
inconspicuous and with its capacity for blending multi-modally into the spaces which
the sounds came to inhabit. It was not a new musical function, but one that was
intensifed by the new medium, and it was a musical function that became available to an
even more substantial part of the population, thereby changing their relations to
music in quite a fundamental way. That the extensive use of music in everyday
programming was self-evident to the producers can also be derived from the fact that music
programmes were among the most expensive ones due to the considerable personnel
demands (ensembles or orchestras, conductors, stage managers, to name a few).
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 34 29/06/18 09:48Season
Music 1,093 2,397 2,376 2,529 2,399 2,402 2,485 2,822 2,902
All programmes
2,941 4,484 4,711 4,942 4,466 5,152 5,616 6,748 6,969
(incl. music)
Share of music
37.2 53.5 50.4 51.2 53.7 46.6 44.2 41.8 41.6
Table 2: Number of broadcast hours dedicated to music and number of broadcast hours in gen‑
eral from the second season (the frst statement) until the season 1959/1960 (Statistical Yearbook
1926‑1961, based on information from DR). The numbers show the drastic growth in broadcast
hours in the frst fve‑seven years. The number of broadcast hours then stabilised until 1951, when
the second channel was introduced. It is not clear what has been included in the ‘Music’ category
in the DR statements. It is probably whole programmes, which means that music included in other
programmes is not accounted for.
Since the early 1930s, DR has been by far the largest cultural institution in
Danish musical life. The astronomical increase in licence payments made the radio rich,
and the many hours of music every day helped defne what music the populace knew
and perhaps bought in the form of sheet music or recordings. DR also became by
far the largest employer of musicians, attracting musicians from all over the country
by ofering regular positions, generous salaries and a high level of professionalism.
According to Holm, DR employed about 250 musicians in the mid-1930s with
various conditions of employment (1938-1939, vol. 2, 153). To this number, one
might add all the musicians that were relayed from restaurants. They received a
small bonus for their participation. With its many daily hours on the air, DR always
needed new music to add to the repertoire. This beneftted the composers, not least
because efective agencies for the collection of royalties had become established in
the mid-1920s in response to the fourishing radio.
17 A growing economy meant that Danish musical life thrived. The sector consisted
of many freelance employees (musicians) and a long list of minor entrepreneurs (band
leaders) who sought out engagements and saw to the logistics. Composers operated
17 For example, the income of the largest rights society, KODA, tripled through the 1930s, ending
at nearly 1 million DKK in 1939. A composer was paid roughly 50 DKK for the performance of
a protected, full symphony (Friis 1951, 71, 21).
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 35 29/06/18 09:48
1959/1960almost like one-man companies, as they tried to make band leaders perform their
music, the radio broadcast it and publishers publish it. Record companies evolved
slowly, but as sales numbers grew and records became part of radio programming,
record companies’ relations to DR became as precarious as DR’s relations to the
publishers had been from the very beginning because of the eternal dilemma between
advertising and educating.
Growth concerned all things radio: from a single studio at the central post ofce
to a massive radio building opening after the German occupation ended in 1945;
from radio signals covering the Copenhagen area to a nationwide network and cable
connections with the rest of the world; from a few dedicated employees to a vast
administrative apparatus; from a single piano trio to a full symphony orchestra, a
light music orchestra and several choirs and small instrumental ensembles. To this
was added an extra channel (and a television channel) in 1951, and the number of
hours dedicated to music programmes almost trebled from about 1,100 per year in
1926/1927 to about 2,900 in 1959/1960 (see table 2). The last number corresponds
to eight hours per day – and most of it was still live music.
Holm regarded himself as the manager of all areas of programming, and only
when he retired did an organisation proper appear. Separate sections were established
for music, drama/literature and lectures, respectively. In 1939 a section for reportage
and radio features was added, and 10 years later a variety section (in Danish known
as underholdningsafdelingen – literally, the entertainment section). The music and
variety sections each had their own orchestra: the 92-person symphony orchestra
(from 1948) belonged to the music section, while the light music orchestra belonged
18to the variety section (31 musicians in 1957). The existence of two music sections
underlined the cultural hierarchy being active at an organisational level. Despite
difculties in manoeuvring between high and low, DR also became an arena for
processes of cultural change, including the inevitable power struggles. It had to
accommodate broad and popular programmes like Giro 413 (a listeners’ requests
programme) and relatively narrow prlike the Thursday Concerts.
According to Holm, the radio belonged among the arts. In his memoirs, he
mentions the ‘artistic-radiophonic rendering of the programmes’ and the radiophonic
‘art institution’ (kunstanstalt; 1938-1939, vol. 2, 141, 161). The subsequent head of
the music section, Vagn Kappel, agreed. In 1948 he published Musik i Æteren (Music
in the Ether), where he described radio as an instrument (1948, 7) and the radio
producer as a conductor organising the collaboration of everyone involved in the
production of live music programmes. By comparing programme planning to the
18 In this volume Lindelof analyses the development of the light music orchestra (the National
Chamber Orchestra) from its beginnings until it was closed down in 2014.
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108645_danish radio_cs6_.indd 36 29/06/18 09:48