My thesis traces a decades-long lineage of both public and corporate radio stations in the UnitedStates and Europe that lay claim to omnivorous musical offerings. Coined in the 1990s and nowaccepted as sociological canon, ‘cultural omnivory’ refers broadly to postwar patterns ofconsumption that traverse traditional class and genre boundaries—the successor to Bourdieu’s‘highbrow’ consumer. From the American freeform radio model of the 1960s to present-daystations touting slogans like “We Play Everything,” radio has cemented itself as one of theprimary sites of culturally omnivorous consumption in the last several decades. Scholars workingin critical race studies have updated omnivore theory for the twenty-first century, positingomnivory’s attendant commitment to inclusive “multiculturalism” as a product ofneoliberalism’s market logic (Melamed 2006). This talk starts from the claim that on theairwaves of contemporary radio, musical taste and the neoliberal politics of inclusivity becomestrange bedfellows. I suggest that an increasing number of radio stations in Europe, among themAustria’s Radio FM4 and the UK’s BBC Radio 6, have adopted marketing strategies thatforeground an omnivorous musical offering. I draw on listening statistics from FM4, theAustrian Broadcasting Corporation’s progressive, youth-oriented station, to quantitativelysubstantiate a relationship between musical omnivory and the politics of inclusion and diversity.I then historically situate the phenomenon of omnivorous European radio as a response to thesimilar American precedent of eclectic, freeform radio. In an effort to remainrelevant—musically and politically—in a saturated and highly-volatile contemporary listeninglandscape, I argue that FM4 aligns omnivorous musical taste with the “intelligent andforward-thinking” political ethos it seeks to attract in its listeners.
Ian Giocondo is a master’s student in musicology at Utrecht University, where he holds anUtrecht Excellence Scholarship and a Holland Scholarship. In 2017-18, Ian was a FulbrightScholar in Berlin, where he conducted research on the transatlantic exchange of experimentalmusic since 1970. He has presented his work in both North America and Europe.
11.11.2019 | 14:00
John F. Kennedy Institute