Select Page

Editor Q&A: Broadcast Education Association 60th Anniversary

Zizi Papacharissi, Editor, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media
Phylis Johnson, Editor, Journal of Radio & Audio Media

Routledge: Tell me a little bit about yourselves for the readers.

Zizi Papacharissi: My background is in mass media theory and research, with an emphasis on new(er) media technologies and political communication. I first became interested in the internet in the mid-90s, when just about 5% of the US population had access to or used the internet. Nowadays, about the same percentage does not have access or does not use the internet, by choice. So it has been a fascinating research trajectory, to grow and mature as a researcher along with my primary medium of focus. I love my work and my students and colleagues are a constant source of inspiration.

Phylis Johnson: I am a Professor of Sound & New Media in the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. In addition to being the editor of Journal of Radio and Audio Media, I am also the editor of Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology. I’ve written four books in media studies/practice, as well as chapters and articles dealing with issues in sound and new media. Having more than 20 years of radio broadcast experience in large and small markets, I have worked on-air for most of my professional life, affiliated with various departments (news, programming and production), often concurrently while in academia. Since 2010, I’ve maintained a weekly online radio show in which I feature original music from independent “virtual world” musicians. I also operate a sim (estate) within Second Life on behalf of my university, in partnership with the University of Western Australia, with dedicated space to a several-layered interactive in-world lab used for teaching sound studies and practice as well as serving as a virtual film studio for transmedia storytelling.

Routledge: How long have you been working with the BEA, and with Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media and Journal of Radio and Audio Media, respectively?

Zizi Papacharissi: I have been working with both the BEA and JOBEM since I was a MA student. I published my first ever article in JOBEM – “Predictors of Internet Use.” It was based off my MA thesis, completed under the supervision of Alan Rubin. I am proud of that study and the fact that it has been our number one cited article at JOBEM for some time now. But my bond with BEA and JOBEM goes beyond that– it is a deeply sentimental bond. It was my first home as a scholar, and it will always be home to me.

Phylis Johnson: I began my editorship in the summer of 2013, with the first issue under my reign being in Spring 2014. I actually got involved with BEA in the early 1990s, and published in the original Journal of Radio Studies, beginning in 1993. In 2000, Dr. Joe S. Foote and I led a JRS symposium on “alternative radio.”

Routledge: What made you want to take on this position in working on your respective journals, and with the BEA?

Zizi Papacharissi: I was drawn to the policy and historical focus that previous editors had emphasized, and I wanted to expand that by incorporating more work on the quickly developing history of new media. We have focused on social media, video games and gaming, and policy work, alongside areas of focus that have always been important to JOBEM. We are now a top 10 journal, ranked #8 based on the latest Google Scholar rankings.

Phylis Johnson: I met Dr. Frank Chorba in 1992, and he served as a mentor for my radio research in my early days. He founded the Journal of Radio Studies, now the Journal of Radio and Audio Media. It is an honor to serve as the editor, for two reasons – Dr. Chorba, as JRAM’s founding editor, is an alum of my university, Southern Illinois University, and of course because of his role in guiding me in my radio research.

Routledge: What have been some of your favorite issues or articles that have been published in the journal in your time as Editor?

Zizi Papacharissi: The three special issues that we ran, each for unique reasons. The first special issue we ran, a collaboration with Microsoft researchers (who also hold academic positions), Nancy Baym and Danah Boyd, on Socially Mediated Publicness, was very important to me, because it signaled a shift of focus in two directions: a) social media b) open access availability. I am grateful to BEA and Routledge for their support in running that issue open access, and I think we were one of the first few journals to pave the way in that promising new direction.
The second special issue we ran with Jean Burgess, Axel Bruns, and Larissa Hjorth on Digital Methods was key, and appeared at a time when many scholars were reconsidering their methodological perspective and orientation. It allowed us to take part in a conversation about methods; a conversation
that is of growing prevalence in our field, and leading us closer to the formulation of what we refer to as the computational social sciences.
Finally, the very last special issue we ran, Old Against New, or a Coming of Age? Broadcasting in an Era of Electronic Media which was edited by and featured contributions from solely graduate students, is the one closest to my heart. I don’t believe another journal has attempted something like this before, and it was and endeavor enthusiastically welcomed by both students and faculty. I believe strongly in supporting the work of graduate students and providing avenues for the publication of their work. Graduate students are the future of our discipline, and the more we trust them with that future and encourage them to reimagine it, the more pleasantly we will be surprised and inspired ourselves.

Phylis Johnson: I like the diversity of topics that come my way, and working with the authors to improve their work as they go through the review process, particularly encouraging them through the necessary revisions that are fairly typical of most manuscripts. So far, I would say our special issue on Shock and Hate Radio (that included the symposium “Shock Jocks and Their Legacy” with Guest Editors Drs. Joy Elizabeth Hayes & Sharon Zechowski) came together nicely thematically. In the works, my editorial assistant Honna Veerkamp and I are preparing a symposium on podcasting with a group of young researchers.

Routledge: Finally, What types of things do you hope to see in the next 60 years from the BEA and what do you hope for the future of your respective journals?

Zizi Papacharissi: All sorts of things. I would like for us to continue to challenge and redefine the notion and the meaning of the term “broadcasting.” It is also important to stay focused on current trends, but to always connect them to historical context and the theoretical progression of our field. We have a rich set of theoretical terms and methodological tools – so there is no need to always invent new terms or reinvent the wheel. We own theories that apply to new(er) media, and at the same time, we should be open enough to expand or adjust these theories and methods, based on the media newer generations use. I do not see old or new media working against each other, or representing opposite ends of a spectrum. On the contrary, they run parallel, with the old informing the new, and what’s new helping us reimagine the present. As I always say, the new is the opportunity embedded in the old, not it’s opposite. So I hope that we will always be able to encourage and play a leading part in having these conversations in our field.

Phylis Johnson: I am not sure about what radio might be like in the distant future – perhaps telepathy (direct communication), but as for the recent future I hope to continue to expand the concept of radio and its relationship with the larger field of sound studies/practice as it connects to broadcasting, communications, and community. I would also like to continue to generate discussion on related topics beyond our print publication via social media and other forums. For me, being an avid gamer and new media enthusiast, radio already extends into virtual worlds, and so if you look and listen – the future is here. Broadcasting is something I will always “do,” whether in its traditional form or online in a platform such as Second Life, where I can connect to people across the world in unique and culturally significant ways, ultimately sharing communicative moments across time and space. I find surrounding myself with a balanced mix of young and seasoned scholars as providing the ideal lens into any sort of prediction of where things are headed for radio as well as media generally. My Editorial Assistant Honna Veerkamp has kept me looking toward the future, while scholars like Drs. Frank Chorba, Douglas

A. Ferguson, Michael Brown, Joseph Blaney, and Michael C. Keith, and others, have provided a historical and valuable foundation that serves to instruct my decisions concerning JRAM.

Find Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media at:
Find Journal of Radio and Audio Media at: