Making up a face for radio: the search for an authentic "on air" identity

Wolfenden, H. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


I get paid to talk to interesting people for a living. Which, as far as job descriptions go, is not a bad one. But somewhere in the middle of that, as a radio presenter, you have to work out who or what you are in the dynamic. This paper will discuss the question for my doctoral research which problematises how presenters "be themselves" on air.

The process by which human individuals become a "self" has been an object of research and inquiry by seminal theorists across a diverse range of disciplines for the last century, from psychiatry and psychology through to sociology and history. This work universally describes the construction (or constitution) of the self (or subject, identity, or personality) as a highly complex and extended process, accomplished interactively in dialogue with different audiences and social processes.

The process of broadcasting requires the presenter to actively construct and reconstruct a self before an imagined audience, and to produce the symbolic indicators of friendship, sympathy, companionship, disclosure and intimacy, in a studio, for consumption by a listening public. In most current media training this process is viewed unproblematically as "just being yourself". Where the audience is not present and can only be imagined, the question of "which self?", and how the construction of such a self is accomplished, becomes problematic.

I'm keen to explore the processes by which radio broadcasters construct and maintain such a self. This will include the process by which they also construct their audience as a dialogue partner, and the way that their on-air self is managed in line with the corporate expectations of their employer.
Held atThe Radio Conference
Event typeConference
LocationMelbourne , Australia