Symposium | 100 Years of Radio Drama International (Regensburg)

When:  24.-25. September 2022

Where: Universität Regensburg, Vielberth-Gebäude, VG 0.02 & online via Zoom

Organizer: Dr. Dieter Lohr, Lehrstuhl für Medienwissenschaft, Uni Regensburg

Conference Language: English

Zoom-Link: available via

Program and further information here.

’This is Channel Earth’ – 100 Years of Radio Drama International

Due to their ephemeral nature radio dramas are rarely translated, rarely reviewed in feature articles, and only considered by scholars in the language area in which they were originally broadcast. The result is that a wide variety of parallel worlds of radio dramas exist – at times even without knowing about each other.

The international conference “’This is Channel Earth’ –100 Years of Radio Drama International” brings together media and literary scholars, authors and radio producers from five continents, on the one hand to close this cultural-historical gap and on the other hand to inspire an intercultural comparison. The aim of this exchange is at least to outline a “global radio drama map”, possibly even a “global radio drama history”, which shows parallel and opposing developments and illuminates similar tendencies and mutual influences that have so far not been considered. Hitherto unused points of contact are definitely available:

  • The prehistory of the radio drama was a decidedly international affair insofar as there was a veritable inventor’s competition about the invention of its medium, the radio, which in part still has an impact today.
  • The question of when, where and by whom the first “real” radio drama was broadcast has long been a controversial topic in the literature.
  • The topics dealt with in radio dramas are subject to the zeitgeist and “fashions”, which sometimes show striking parallels across national borders, but sometimes are just as strikingly opposite.
  • The same applies to the make of radio dramas, for example the use of background noises, the use of music, the number of speakers.
  • These content-related and formal conditions are strongly dependent on the political and social circumstances in the respective country, on the state of technology, on economic conditions, wars, democratization processes, on the change of political systems.
  • Internationally known writers can provide connections between different radio drama cultures and a worthwhile approach to research.
  • Even individual radio dramas can achieve supra-regional popularity and relevance. Orson Welles’ 1938 radio drama milestone “The War of the Worlds” has been remade numerous times over the decades in several countries around the world, adapted to regional and zeitgeist circumstances. Here, too, trend lines would have to be measured.

Numerous other questions would be of research interest: How did radio drama develop and what role does it play in regions where illiteracy is widespread? Or in countries where literary life is traditionally strongly influenced by state censorship? Or in places where radio was imported by colonizers and yet is broadcast in the local language?

At the end of the radio drama century, there is once again a great commonality, possibly the greatest since the invention of the radio drama: radio is losing importance worldwide to the same extent that the internet is gaining in importance.

What consequences does this have for radio drama, and what does its future look like? Will it die out as a literary genre, will it migrate from radio to the Internet, from the professional to the amateur sector? Will it be replaced by the podcast? Can we identify commonalities across countries, languages and cultures, or are new differences emerging?


Saturday, September 24
10:15-10:30 – Welcome by Dr. Dieter Lohr (Germany).
10:30-11:00 – Prof. Liz Gunner (UK / South Africa) on radio drama in South Africa.
11:00-11:30 – Vikram Phukan (India) on Indian radio drama.
11:30-12:00 – Prof. Tim Crook (UK) on the pioneer of science fiction in British broadcasting R.E. Jeffrey.
13:00-13:30 – Dr. Dragoș Carasevici (Romania) on the reception of Friedrich Dürrenmatt‘s radio plays in Romania.
13:30-14:00 – Prof. Alejandra M. Bronfman (USA) introduces a a recently digitized archive of Cuban-American radio dramas.
14:30-15:00 – María Mercedes Di Benedetto (Argentina) on radio drama in Argentina.
15:00-15:30 – Assoc. Prof. Jina Eleanor Kim (USA) on radio dramas and dramatology in early 20th century Korea.

Sunday, September 25
10:30-11:00 – Dr. Virginia Madsen (Australia) on Australian radio drama.
11:00-11:30 – Dr. Daniel Schümann (Germany) on radio adaptations of E.I. Zamyatin‘s »We« in Great Britain and Germany.
11:30-12:00 – Prof. Mihaela Gavrila (Italy) on the radio drama telling the story of Italy and the world. A long alliance between public service media and new digital spaces.
13:30-14:00 – Prof. Christiane Heibach (Germany) on the contemporary radio play and the digital: Cultural dimensions of media self-reflection.
14:30-15:00 – Asst. Prof. Kerim Yasar (USA) on Japanese radio drama in transcultural context.
15:00-15:30 – Asst. Prof. Neil Verma (USA) on sound effects: The revenge of »The Revenge«.