Oral history and the radio – a rich history and a bright future.Posted: December 10, 2013
I am going to look at oral history on the radio as the main focus of my essay on oral history in public history. I confess that this interest stemmed originally from my being something of a radio addict. What a happy coincidence then that when researching this topic for our student-led seminar I learned that there is so much that radio offers as a means of communicating oral history. Initially I assumed that what we were really talking about was oral history documentaries aimed at “the Radio 4 Waitrose/Boden” listener. However, I learned about the rich, historical development of oral history on the radio, including the legacy left by the godfather of this genre, Studs Terkel. Oral history on local, community based radio stations proliferates. There are exciting opportunities too – collaborative working with documentary makers, learning from each other’s craft – and using podcasts and other digital media to reach more varied, younger audiences. Oral history on the radio can and does reach a much wider public than might at first be thought and I want to explore this in my essay. I hope too that I can use it as a way of developing my arguments about the wider challenges of oral history in public history.