Transnational encounters and peregrinations of the radio documentary imagination

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Ample evidence attests to the emergence of a ‘documentary project’ in radio by the 1930s, located in multiple sites of creation, many of which developed concurrently, or in dialogue, with the documentary movement in cinema gathering momentum in these same years. This chapter charts this documentary project across time, and by visiting multiple sites of production. As in the world of film making, a small number of key individuals – auteurs – and centres of production – workshops, studios – helped shape the wider field and offered a vision, as well as encouraging considerable institutional support. As with cinema, the expansion of the documentary in radio and sound has evolved over almost a century, and in relation to other arts and literature, and develops with the rise of another new field: broadcast journalism and reportage. This chapter registers transnational interactions of ideas and the specific programs, departments and producers who helped to build the diverse forms which emerged by the 1970s. The chapter highlights key centres of production and individuals from Germany, France, the UK and beyond, and offers a reflection on the role and impact of public service broadcasting to this story, identifying distinct traditions and movements of work which crossed national boundaries. The chapter considers the impacts and legacy of these developments from broadcast to podcast.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransnationalizing radio research
Subtitle of host publicationnew approaches to an old medium
EditorsGolo Föllmer, Alexander Badenoch
Place of PublicationBielefeld, Germany
PublisherTranscript Verlag
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783839439135
ISBN (Print)9783837639131
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameMedia studies
PublisherTranscript Verlag

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • radio history
  • documentary (radio and film)
  • media history
  • broadcasting history
  • radio features and documentary radio programmes (forms and history)
  • radio documentary
  • Transnational history
  • public broadcasting radio
  • broadcast media forms and history
  • BBC history
  • European radio history
  • ABC radio history


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