While comparatively little research had focussed on talkback radio in Australia until recently, it has played an increasingly important role within the media landscape since the early 1990s: it has dominated the AM format, it is routinely believed to significantly influence public opinion, and it has attracted the attention of politicians more than any other media format. Some regard it as a highly democratic format, facilitating public debate, while others focus on the negative effects on such debate when it is seen to exploit public anxieties. Recent controversies, such as those surrounding Chris Masters’ biography of Alan Jones, have ensured that talkback generates as many headlines as it reports. In this public lecture, Graeme Turner will discuss some of what he has learned during his three year research project into Australian talkback radio: the diversity of the format in practice, its success in reconciling the competing demands of information and entertainment, and the issue of talkback’s much-cited political influence.
Professor Graeme Turner is an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, Director of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and convenor of the ARC Cultural Research Network. Click here to Professor Turner's website. He has published 18 books with national and international presses, his work has been translated into 8 languages, and his work has been twice shortlisted (unsuccessfully) for the NSW Premier’s Gleebooks Prize. His most recent publications are (with Stuart Cunningham) The Media and Communications in Australia (2006) and Ending the Affair: The decline of TV current affairs in Australia (2005). He is the theme editor of the special issue of Media International Australia on talkback radio being launched after the lecture.