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US college radio, the ‘New British Invasion’ and media alterity

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Abstract:

The mid-1980s discursive emergence of 'college radio' as a discrete broadcast sector in the United States was founded on college stations' embrace of UK punk during the late 1970s. While commercial rock stations rejected punk on aesthetic and affective grounds, college DJs continued to support punk's offshoots into the early 1980s, nurturing an oppositional sensibility regarding commercial broadcasting and mainstream tastes. The stunning debut of cable television channel MTV in 1981 introduced a potential crisis in self-consciously oppositional college radio communities, because as part of its programming, MTV promoted UK post-punk and 'new music' bands that had previously received most of their airplay from college stations. MTV's success sparked a parallel programming trend on commercial radio, which journalists labelled the 'New British Invasion'. The various responses to MTV and the 'New British Invasion' on the part of US college radio practitioners extended and consolidated the ethos that college radio embodied in its embrace of punk, helping to cohere the sector as a cultural imaginary. These responses also suggest that 'alternative media' theorists might profitably include college radio in the future development of alternative media models.

Keywords: AOR; MTV; New British Invasion; alternative media; college radio; underground music

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/rjao.9.2.127_1

Affiliations: University of Virginia, USA

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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  • The Radio Journal is committed to high-quality, diverse research in the arena of radio and sound media, from broadcast to podcast and all in between. We look for articles that explore the production, circulation and reception of radio and creative soundwork, addressing historical and contemporary issues in sound-based journalism and media studies from a wide range of national and transnational perspectives.
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