This is a proposal for a podcast series conceived as a meeting point for non-hearing and hearing communities. It can be seen as an attempt to open space to communities that have been excluded since the early development of radiophonic transmission and long-distance voice-based communications. While writing these notes, I cannot stop ruminating about the historical intertwining between the invention of voice-based long-distance communications and the efforts that some of its pioneers dedicated to affirming education models today described as oralism and their eugenics roots. Another stream destabilizes my thinking, its banks I try to summarise as an understanding of progress impossible to tear apart from a general cult of profit and its pervasive spread controlling mass media. I have memories of radio broadcasting being dismissed in my childhood as a historical heritage in favor of television. Now that the internet has created a favorable momentum for digital radio, I must admit that the absence of advertisements relieves me. Nevertheless, my comfort is often unaware of hidden profiling techniques, whose consequences we experience beyond marketing purposes in unprecedented political persuasion.
Is it possible to imagine a podcast, a digital radio, as a welcoming place to share and an enjoyable zone where the agency of the community is perceived outside the systematic targeting of consumers? And how should this place be? I must write that I am feeling many biases while formulating a proposal from my subjective position to imagine a collating space for communities that have been systematically separated during the consolidation of liberalism’s political imaginaries. I can only find myself on an experiential threshold between hearing and non-hearing communities, with an unbalance toward the hearing group having received only an oral education. Somehow I hope this idea will be seeded by collaborative thinking, crumbling this early individuality exercise and taking it to a format that feels more representative of both communities involved.
Please allow me to approach world-building in radiophonic space as an embodied methodology, for the now, starting from the user’s access needs. A radio station conventionally offers a stereo channel audible mix, and the mixer is in the hand of the producer. I am suggesting offering part of it to the folks that will tune in; this digital radio can be a six channels stream with:
1 – music stream;
2 – metadata stream, with lyrics, info on the tracks, and descriptive captioning;
3 – oral-based broadcast;
4 – oral full transcript and captions;
5 – sign language based streaming;
6 – sign language full transcript/captions.
I see the imbalance in my proposal where four channels are reserved for creating access-centering oral and hearing-controlled discourse; as anticipated, I am preparing to rework this in the context of a collaborative thinking exercise, inviting d/Deaf broadcasters to articulate this idea better. I can imagine a parallel sign-language-based channel for streaming poetry and storytelling and experimental artistic expression, but I am not taking authority to define a sign-language space; I only feel how much this is needed, along with captions and transcripts to make these contents accessible to the non-signing audience.
Until now, this proposal encompasses a technical format because it aims to dismantle the ableist power of a technologically exclusive medium. I feel this operation is valuable only in the context of curating practices that aim to address ableist circuits of power. I suggest looking at the “working definition of ableism” published and updated on Talila A. Lewis’ blog and “developed in community with disabled Black/negatively racialized folk.” TL helps us see ableism beyond the disabled community, within a proper intersectional approach that is a much-needed filter to explore solidarity around the curatorial thinking of contents to share in this broadcast. As mentioned at the beginning of this proposal, this radiophonic space can exist only if a collaborative thinking exercise happens. I hope this exercise will produce a curatorial kinship in preparing each chapter that does not repeat the usual and unnecessary institutional pledge of creating access to interpreting unidirectionally created content. This is extremely important to me, and I hope it resonates with the title of this proposal. “Mixed feelings” is also underling the necessity of a choral practice where dissonance must be welcome, operating an attunement that does not seek homologations nor blanket agreements.
I hope I will soon have the chance to tune in to a music stream while reading captions from a signing artist, exploring thresholds that aim to bring solidarity across existing cultural barriers.