This thesis examines the evidence of community among listeners to three radio programs, who gather online to discuss radio programming in blogs, message boards and discussion forums provided by those programs. The three programs of focus are Air America Radio’s The Majority Report, ABC Radio Networks’ Sean Hannity Show, and National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation. The shows are analyzed in terms of how they perform by a new standard of interactive radio, whose benchmark has been established by The Majority Report. First identified in this thesis, the concept of high-interactivity radio brings together both vertical (between audience and broadcaster) and horizontal (intra-audience) interactivities. The relative success of high-interactivity radio is judged by a comparative analysis of the evidence of community in radio-online discussion areas, and the use of these online spaces by show producers as a vehicle for listener feedback, interaction, and content generation. The observations made in these three radio-online discussion areas can be practically applied to the work of broadcasters. Toward this end, the thesis closes with a brief ethnographic description of Open Source, a new public radio program currently attempting to develop its own version of high-interactivity radio.
About Joellen Easton
In late 2015 Joellen Easton left nonprofit media for the first time in her career, and also made the daring move back to Maine from Southern California (in the winter!). She now serves as the digital product manager for the Bangor Daily News, where her one big goal is to make digital revenue overtake print revenue as quickly as possible, through launching of new products, optimization of digital performance, and innovation. Formerly she worked for American Public Media, leading the creation and partnership development of the Public Insight Network, a platform for digital editorial engagement.