Book Title
Mass Communication: Living in a Media World 7th Edition

978-1544332345 Chapter 7

August 4, 2020
Chapter 7: Audio: Music and Talk Across Media
Summary and Learning Objectives
The ability to record sounds began in 1877 with Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph.
Although Edison’s machine could record and play back sound, it was relatively fragile, and the foil-
covered cylinders could not be reproduced and did not stand up to repeated playing. Emile
Paley saw its potential as an advertising medium that incidentally provided entertainment. KDKA,
the first commercial radio station, went on the air in 1920, ushering in the golden age of radio, in
which radio was the dominant medium for home entertainment. Radio was also a major source of
news, offering an intimacy and immediacy that newspapers couldn’t match.
A wide range of recording formats has been used over the years, including the 78-rpm disc, the 45-
producer to the forefront, a move that accelerated with the development of disco and rap. Hip-hop
culture brought together playing music, talking over the songs, dancing, and a distinctive graffiti art
Parents and other adults have expressed concern about lyrics that include profanity, references to
suicide and violence, and sentiments that are derogatory toward women.
FM has gradually replaced AM as the dominant radio band. Although FM has a shorter broadcast
range, it has much higher quality sound (higher fidelity).
Although the majority of radio stations are commercial, public radio--a staple of FM radio
programming--provides an important alternative. Terrestrial radio is still the dominant sound
medium; however, it faces growing competition from digital alternatives such as HD radio, satellite
radio, streaming audio, and podcasting.
Learning Objectives
After studying this chapter, you will be able to:
1. Describe how major developments in audio technology changed how people experience music.
2. Explain how rock ’n’ roll developed out of two different music traditions.
3. Explain how radio transformed from a channel for interpersonal communication to one for mass
4. Describe how different recording formats have given rise to concerns about the purchasing of
5. Discuss how long-tail audio technology is changing the radio and recording industry for everyone
from music fans to international stars.
Review Questions
1. How has the musical Hamilton helped bring hip-hop music to a new audience?
2. Is radio still a distinct, separate medium, or is it just part of a larger world of audio programming?
Why or why not?
3. What is the role of a producer in music like rock, R&B, and hip-hop? Why do producers seem to
have such a big influence on the music industry?
4. Can musicians still make a living in the music industry today? Why or why not? How has this
changed over the last twenty years?
5. How are musicians using long-tail tools to create new ways of sharing their music while still
making money?
Media Literacy Exercises
Listen to hr of news on NPR (either Morning Edition or All Things Considered). After the initial 5-
min news update, time how long each story lasts. What was the major topic of each story? How did
these stories differ in terms of content and length from what you would hear (and see) on television
news? You can listen to these programs on your radio, or you can hear the Webcast at
All Things Considered
Morning Edition
Notes: The biggest challenge for this assignment is that students may not have taken a serious look
at a full ½ hr evening newscast. You might consider asking students to do both for the assignment.
In addition to making a good out-of-class writing assignment, this could also serve as a good
springboard for class discussion.
As always, feel free to use whatever grading scheme works best for you. I use a criterion-based
system, where I assume that most students will complete the assignment in a competent manner
and should earn a grade of B. A graduate student grades my papers using the following standard:
For a grade of B, students should provide a log of the news stories from NPR. They should
have comments that the stories are long. Students might also say that the stories are about
issues they are not familiar with. Finally, they may note that NPR does not have
For a grade of A, students should note the longer nature of stories, the greater depth in
reporting, and a look at longer term, less “spot news”-oriented stories.
For a grade of C, students may note that the stories lack the pictures that go with television
as their key difference.
Radio Formats
For hr, listen to a radio station that you don’t normally listen to. What station did you listen to?
What sort of format does the station have? Who is the station trying to appeal to? How does it differ
from the station you usually listen to? Would you listen to the station again? Why or why not? (You
may find it helpful to visit the station’s website, if it has one.)
Notes: Students will have fun with this assignment, though they may have difficulty finding
ownership information. The reference desk at your school’s library can probably provide help with
this information, as can the FCC website. Also encourage students to go to the SALES portion of the
station’s website, which will often have target audience information for potential advertisers.
The main criterion to separate an A from a B paper is completeness on the ownership question. A
good discussion of who owns the station, whether it is local or national ownership, and where the
station’s programming comes from is the best evidence of an A paper.
Music Videos
View a current music video. In a brief (300500 words) paper, name the video and the artist and
briefly describe what kind of music it contains. Then analyze what the lyrics of the song say and
compare them with the message of the video itself.
Notes: One of the startling things about music videos is the fact that the visuals and the lyrics are
often completely unrelated to each other, something that doesn’t seem to bother college students.
It’s also interesting to see how students try to see connections that may or may not exist.
Students should get a B on the essay if they give a fairly literal interpretation of the visuals
and the lyrics.
Students should get an A on the essay if they explain the metaphors and themes that show
up in the video and lyrics that go beyond a literal interpretation.
Essays that are short or incomplete in describing the video or lyrics should get a C or lower.
Suggested Readings
Witt, S. (2015). How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the
Patient Zero of Piracy. New York: Penguin. Fantastic history of the development of music file
sharing. It’s not the same narrative the RIAA has been trying to sell us for years.
Bilby, K. (1986). The General: David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry. New
York: Harper & Row. David Sarnoff was the most powerful man ever in the broadcasting
industry. This biography looks at Sarnoff and how he created the myths that surrounded him.
Stern, H. (1997). Private Parts. New York: Pocket Books. Stern tells his own story of his bumpy
road to radio stardom as the original shock jock.
Wertheimer, L. (Ed.). (1995). Listening to America: Twenty-five Years in the Life of a Nation, as
Heard on National Public Radio. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. Read the stories that
put National Public Radio’s news programs on the map.
Baldwin, N. (1995) Edison: Inventing the Century. New York: Hyperion. This is the most recent
authoritative biography of inventor Thomas Edison. You can view an interview with Baldwin
from C-SPAN’s video archives: https://www.c-span.org/video/?63449-1/edison-inventing-
Romanowski, P. George-Warren, H. & Pareles, J. (Eds.). (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of
Rock & Roll (Revised and Updated for the 21st Century), Completely revised and updated ed. New
York: Rolling Stone Press. The ultimate reference book for settling rock ‘n’ roll arguments. Just
don’t pull it out when you have work to do.
Miller, J. (1999). Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 19471977. New York: Simon
& Schuster. One of the best histories of rock ‘n’ roll covering the genre from its inception
through the release of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.
Early, G. (1995). One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco
O’Brien, L. (1995). She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul. New York:
Penguin Books.
Witt, S. (2015). How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the
Patient Zero of Piracy. New York: Penguin Books.
All of the Chapter 7 links posted to my RalphEHanson.com blog at
Lecture Builders
A Former Indie Musician Looks at the Telecom Act of 1996
The following link to a guest blog post comes from Matthew Warder, who at one time was lead
guitarist for a great indie power pop band called “The Argument.” In addition to providing us with
lots of entertainment, he was also my eldest’s bass guitar teacher for several years. I’ll let Matt give
you the background on how this post came to be. He’s now a financial and equity markets analyst. I
really recommend reading this linked post, even though it is quite long. It brings the analysis of an
indie musician together with a financial analyst--the perfect combination for understanding this
Learn More About Brian Ibbott’s World of Podcasting
I’ve been listening to Brian Ibbott’s podcast Coverville for most of 14 years, but Coverville is only a
small part of what he does in the world of podcasting. This link lists most of the programs he’s
associated with:
A Look Back at the 1970s Punk Scene
A great collection of photos by David Godlis from the punk scene in New York from the 1970s,
including images of the Ramones, Talking Heads, and Blondie.
Photo Galleries from Rolling Stone
Here’s a link to the latest photo galleries from Rolling Stone magazine on the current (and
historic) music scene.
A Great Collection of Music Videos
Here’s a link to a great collection of music videos from music history, including Elvis, Chuck Berry,
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Who, The Beatles, The Sugar Hill Gang, George Straight,
among others.
From Robyn to Lennon and Maisy--Call Your Girlfriend
Want to see how transformative a cover of a song can be? Take a look at how “Call Your Girlfriend
goes from Robyn’s pop/dance version to Lucy Wainright Roche’s melancholy ballad treatment, to
Lennon and Maisy’s undescribable mash-up of both!
robyns-tell-your-g punk-rock-scene/girlfriend/
Media Activities
Classroom Discussion: Mash-ups and the Long Tail
The music industry is going through an enormous period of change right now with the rise of
electronic music sales, peer-to-peer file sharing, and unsigned bands using the Internet to promote
themselves. The key thing to remember as we go through this is that change is going to happen. It
doesn't mean that the industry isn't right for resisting it, but it is going to change.
One of the ways music creation and marketing is changing is through the work of mash-up and
remix artists such as Girl Talk’s Gregg Gillis who builds all of his music from unlicensed samples of
work by other musicians. Make sure you read the Media Literacy box about Gillisand Girl Talk on
page 173 in your textbook. You will also want to review the section on hip-hop on pages 170171.
Also review the material about the long tail from Chapter 3 (pages 67-70).
Then take a look at the following links:
Here's a link to a video called Everything is a Remix.
You need to watch the entire video--it takes about 40 minu or so. But it addresses a lot of the
issues were talking about here. Especially the idea that people own songs that theyve
created. It puts creativity into more context. You arent required to respond to it, but I think
youll all find it really interesting and a great source of information for the ongoing discussion.
NPR's on The Media: They Say That I Stole This
Audio story on how sampling is now a central part of musical culture. You can read a transcript
of it if you want, but try to listen to the audio if at all possible.
Girl Talk--All Day/Annotated
Girl Talks album All Day features as many as 400 separate musical clips. This link gives you a
visual representation of how he assembled these clips into his new creation. Pick a couple of the
sections from All Day and look at what went into them. Please note that many of these clips
contain NSFW language that will likely be offensive to some of you.
Short Animated Film Based on Girl Talks Bounce That
This video was created by Prof. Matthew Soar and his students at Concordia University in
Montreal using rotoscoped video using a mash-up created by Gillis. This is an example of how
the work that Gillis created out of the musical creations of others gets transformed into
something yet again new.
Girl Walk//All Day
Watch a segment from the crowd-sourced dance film Girl Walk//All Day.
Make sure you do the reading/listening/viewing before entering into this weeks discussion:
Do you listen to hip-hop or other sampled music?
How does hip-hop style music differ from music in the past? How is it similar? (Make sure you
listen to some of Gilliss music!)
Do you think samplers (such as Gillis or other hip-hop artists) are stealing from the musicians
who created the sampled music? Why or why not?
Are mash-ups original creations? Why or why not? What can you bring to this discussion from
the Everything Is A Remix video?
Do we get a more interesting musical/creative world when we move beyond rigid ownership of
music and art? Who gets hurt by this?
Does it matter if the artist is rich or poor? Is there any precedence in history to support your
Do you have any examples to add of how samples contribute to music or are what you would
consider rip-offs?
Note: You do not have to answer all of these questions, but make sure you get at the big issues that
you can support with research--that is, don't just answer the ones that you can give opinion or
personal answers to.
Support your argument with specific examples from your readings.
Lady Gaga and Protest Music
Lady Gaga, in addition to being a big pop star and actress, has also managed to have some
fascinating connections to protest music from 1960s and 70s. I’ve got a couple of blog posts that
bring together music history and music videos to tell about Lady Gaga’s connection to politics and
protest music:
Politics, Lady Gaga, and the Super Bowl Halftime Show
Real Radicals Part I--Lady Gaga and Phil Ochs
Sparking Debate: Amos ‘n’ Andy
The Golden Age radio show Amos ‘n’ Andy featured two White performers writing and
portraying a host of African American characters. Did the fact that the stars were White and the
characters Black make the show racist? Why?
Notes: You would be hard pressed to find more controversial material in this text than that relating
to Amos ‘n’ Andy. The show was undoubtedly racist, drawing on stereotypes from the old minstrel
shows. But the show was virtually the only program on radio that acknowledged that African
Americans had lives, loves, and careers, even if they were being played by White actors.
You can listen to a sample of the radio show here: http://www.otr.net/?p=amnd
Classroom Debate: Parental Warning Labels
Do the “Explicit Lyrics” warning labels on CDs help teens and parents control the music young
people are listening to, or do they simply serve to make controversial CDs more attractive?