Sonic Publics| Booming at the Margins: Ethnic Radio, Intimacy, and Nonlinear Innovation in Media

Larisa Kingston Mann


Pirate radio still flourishes in dense, multiethnic cities such as Brooklyn, New York, despite the rise of Web radio. For immigrants in particular, radio sounds mark identity and community and (re)claim social spaces of work, commutes, and the home. It is not only lack of access to digital technologies or broadband that shapes radio’s relevance, but also marginalized communities’ specific needs, histories, and values. Paying more attention to embodied social engagement with ethnic pirate radio illuminates key dynamics in how and when communities adapt or adopt new technology or integrate it into “old” technology. The power to make culture more autonomously is important for communities that exist in a hostile cultural environment that seeks to limit or shape their presence. Radio centers specific values unaccounted for in dominant discussions of radio: collective intimacy and synchronous listening, which help to produce that cultural autonomy.


pirate radio, ethnic radio, diasporic media, digital divide, intimacy, listening

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