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“Exploring the Other Spectrum: Useful Radio”

October 18 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm MDT


Talk by archivist, filmmaker, writer and educator Rick Prelinger. Abstract: Useful radio is radio with a job to do, as distinct from broadcast radio whose function is to entertain, inform and exhort. Useful radio regulates the labor and mobility of humans, animals and vehicles on land, sea and in the air; supports state functions, including policing and surveillance; enables infrastructures of production, distribution and consumption. As a multidirectional system of transmitting and diffusing commands, instructions and situational information, useful radio has from its origins simultaneously mapped and reproduced geographies of power and control. At the same time, manifestations like citizens band (CB) and low-power handheld radios have enabled uncountable acts of resistance and rebellion. Useful radio has played a key role in workers’ organizations, civil rights and antiwar movements and youth rebellion, and it might be considered the pulse of the January 6 Capitol riot. This talk presents sounds and images together with elements of a collective research agenda in the hope of encouraging fieldwork, research, fabulation and critique within this dominant but typically unheard and barely theorized sector of the wireless spectrum.


October 18
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm MDT
Event Category:


Cheryl Higashida
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