Opening up the debate: Irish radio, Facebook, and the creation of transnational cultural public spheres.
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractRadio has become an increasingly digitised medium in recent years with a growing online presence becoming ever more integral to the medium’s output and identity. Furthermore, it has become integral to radio stations’ audience recruitment and retention strategies. While radio has long been a platform for on-air public debate and discourse, the limitations of technology always meant that only a limited number of listeners could take part. The largest social network site, Facebook, now provides the infrastructure for public spheres to exist online which means a much wider audience can participate and contribute to discussions and debates including the extensive Irish diaspora – which has grown significantly as a cohort since 2008 due to mass emigration – making it a transnational phenomenon. Using the Irish radio industry and Radio Kerry as a case study this research found that although some instances of traditional Habermasian public spheres exist on radio station Facebook pages, such instances were very limited. Instead audiences are participating in what closely resemble cultural public spheres (McGuigan 2005) where the topics of discussion are of a cultural, social or emotional nature, eschewing debates on current affairs/public issues. This chapter looks at the use of Facebook for audience recruitment and retention from an Irish context and within that is focused on the local commercial radio station Radio Kerry. The methodology included textual analysis of Facebook page content, interviews with industry professionals, an audience survey and one in-depth interview with an audience member.
CitationMcMahon, D. (2018) ‘Opening up the debate: Irish radio, Facebook, and the creation of transnational cultural public spheres’, in Föllmer, G., and Badenoch, A. (eds.) ‘Transnationalizing radio research: new approaches to an old medium’, Bielefeld: Transcript, pp. 247-256.
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