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In at least one point in the day, every-one finds themselves tuned into one broadcast station or another, be it radio or television Be it for entertainment, relaxation, to be informed or merely a means of escapism. For whichever reasons it is, radio and television play an active role in our everyday life whether we are aware of it or not. Using South African examples, this assignment seeks to discuss two radio and two television genres. It is virtually impossible to discuss the issue genre before defining this term. Both the Oxford dictionary as well as Creeber (2001), defines ‘genre’ as “type” or “kind”.
Genres allow for the types or kinds of things to be categorised. For example in radio broadcasting, there are various different programs aired, such as talk shows, music shows, news broadcasts, drama shows and so on. Each of these shows are categorised into a particular genre based on their characteristics. The two radio genres that will be discussed are talk shows and music shows. The phenomenon of genre is not exclusive to radio and television alone. In fact according to Greeber, “it [genre] has played an important role in the study of literature, theatre, film, television and other art and media forms” (Creeber, G: 2001 pg.
1). Radio-Talk Genre Radio stations like ‘SAFM’ and ‘702’ are almost entirely dedicated to the genre of ‘talk show’ however almost every radio station incorporates this genre if not at least for a few minutes. The success of talk shows lie in participation by the audience. The audience is urged to call into the radio station and either view their opinion on the topic of discussion or pose questions to either an officiator or a panel. On ‘SAFM’ for example, there was a program entitled “The Life and Times of Dr. Bayers Nordea”. The show was as the title implies, discussing and talking about Dr.
Nordeas’ life. The show hosted family, colleagues and friends, who spoke about his life. Listeners also got the opportunity to add their comments, thoughts, as well as pose questions to the panel. The show was also officiated by the host or disk jockey (D. J) of the show, who not only directed most of the discussion, but also made sure that the show, ran smoothly. The nature of talk shows is such that the audience phones in either agreeing or disagreeing to the topic or question being discussed.
This opens the door for others to voice their opinions. According to Barnard (2000), “phone-in …encourages a free flow of opinion and conversation within the safety of an artificially created community” (Barnard, S: 2000). With out this element, the talk show would be deemed unsuccessful. Talk shows do not follow a particular protocol, meaning that any topic can be addressed. The mere action of a D. J. posing a question relating to any topic and receiving feedback from the audience constitutes the genre of talk show to be exercised. As any topic makes way for talk shows, it is common to find small inserts of talk show, even within a primarily music radio station.
Highfeld Stereo is an example of a South African music radio station. It is common to find a situation where a D. J. poses a question and opens the lines to receive feedback. The D. J is thus officiating a talk show, within a music show. Listeners of talk shows however, are required to concentrate on the discussion if they are to understand what is being discussed, thus ones attention cannot divert from one thing to another. For example, one cannot talk to a friend on the phone, as well as remain focused on the discussion. Radio-Music Genre.
Although there is audience participation in the music genre, it differs from that of the talk genre. Regarding music radio, the audience is urged to call in to send dedications to friends or loved ones, choose songs they wish to hear, or vote for their favourite song rather than voice their opinions on a matter. Music as a genre is not so clear-cut like talk shows. Within the music genres, there are sub-genres, where by music is categorised according to style. Rock, rave, hip-hop and pop would all be examples of sub-genres of the music genre.
The music genre requires less attention from the listener to be focused on the show. Namely, the listener can do various other activities without loosing out on the entertainment. For example, while driving a car and focusing on the road, or while working at ones desk, one can continue to listen to his or her favourite song and not be side tracked. Unlike the talk genre where if one was driving a car and focusing on the road they would more than likely loose track of what was being discussed-alternatively, they would possibly have an accident. As the genre implies, the emphasis in music shows is in fact music.
Therefore it is common to find very little talking by the D. J. and more music being played. The show usually consists of popular songs in the specific sub-genre being aired. This genre also usually has a top 40 show, where the 40 most popular songs are aired. This is commonly known as “contempory hit radio” (Tomaselli/de Villiers: 1998). 5FM radio station for example has the ‘Coca-Cola Top 40’ music show which is aired every Sunday morning from 10:00- 14:00. Other radio stations like ‘East Coast Radio host the ‘Top 10 at 10’ show, which airs the 10 most popular songs every Tuesday night at 22:00.
These songs which make it onto the ‘top 10’ or ‘top 40’ lists, are songs which have been voted for by the public. Jacaranda FM in contrast to the mainstream radio stations of say 5FM for example would air music of a different sub-genre, however one would still find the most popular tracks of that specific sub-genre being aired, as well as ‘top 10’ shows occurring. In the music genre, the D. Js primary job is to play music and possible talk a little bit about the artist of the track, rather than being an officiator or a mediator of discussion, as is found in talk radio. Television-Documentary Genre.
As the term documentary implies, these shows are usually fact based and require research to be done on the particular topic being showed. Events are documented by a team of researchers and aired to the public. An example of a documentary would be found in the SABC 2 show “50/50”. This is a documentary program that focuses on various aspects of the wild life. Documentaries however could focus on a variety of topics, including an event, person or idea. As the emphasis of documentaries is on information, enlightenment and facts, viewers usually watch documentaries as a means of being informed, rather than being entertained.
The nature of documentaries is such that each episode is fully formed and has a definite conclusion – even if left as an enquiry for the viewer to think about what they have just viewed. This allows the viewer to evaluate their knowledge of the topic against that of the show. Documentaries are also not usually serial form, as would be the case in a sitcom for example. Rather, they tend to be self-contained episodes with definite endings. Documentaries usually also adopt a narrative structure & psychological relationship of the viewers to the program.
The viewer is often addressed directly, in order “to persuade the actual person watching at home that he or she is the “you” to whom the addresser is speaking” (Allen,C: 1992 pg. 118). This also keeps the viewer interested in the show as well making them feel as if they actively involved in what is going on. Due to the fact that documentaries are not entertainment focused and are rather a means of transferring information, events, people or animals being documented are portrayed as realistically as possible.
Animals, which are filmed in the “50/50” program, for example are filmed in their natural environments, rather than in zoos, in order to give the viewer the most realistic experience. As they are based on real occurrences, documentaries, unlike entertainment programmes such as sitcoms, do not focus as much on a specific plot. Television-Soap Opera As soap operas were originally targeted at the female audience (Brown, M: 1994), it is not surprising to find that many of the central characters within this genre are women.
More importantly, they are strong, powerful and influential characters, rather than the stereotype housewife women. SABC 3 airs the soap opera “Isidingo”. Charel de Villiers and Leigh Haynes are two examples of strong, powerful and ambitious characters that play central roles in the show. It is important for these kinds of characters to exist, in order for the audience to which the show is targeted at to be able to relate. “They [women] recognise some of there own identity in this product created by the media” (Brown, M: 1994). People watch soap operas for a number of reasons.
The fact that they are entertaining, allows the viewer to unwind, relax or escape from the stresses from every day life, for the duration of the show, as the audience get lost in the reality of the program (Anderson, M: 2004). Viewers could also be using the decision-making techniques and outcomes of the soap opera to “work through” their own issues (Anderson, M: 2004). “Isidingo” is an example of a program that deals with AIDS-an issue that the whole of South Africa is facing; it also provides solutions in the form of Nandipe-a married women infected with HIV.
Her positive attitude allows her to live a productive life. Viewers may see Nandipe as a role model. Those viewers infected with HIV may in fact even echo her actions in order to try and increase productivity in their own lives. Characters in soap operas are usually found in the form of “multiple characters” (Brown, M: 1994) meaning that characters emphasize the group over the individual (Brown, M: 1994 pg 53), thus many people can relate to one specific character.
This also makes way for viewers to find similarities between themselves and various other characters rather than one particular character. Brown believes that rather than relating to characters in soap operas, viewers “implicate” themselves to various characters, meaning that the viewer will see similarities between a particular character, or even characters, but when the character acts in a way that the viewer does not agree with, or feel comfortable with, the viewer will distance him or herself from the character (Brown, M: 1994).
Soap operas adopt a visualization style, which gets the viewer to focus and identify with a specific character (Brown, M: 1994 pg. 53). On a radio talk show for example, a TV viewer called in with the opinion that the “Isidingo” villianess, Cherel de Villiers should be punished, as if the viewer could not differentiate between reality & fiction. (Anderson, M: 2004). Apparently actors who play villainous characters are shunned offset by the public (Anderson, M: 2004).
It is not only the relatable characters and entertaining style of soap operas that keep the audience hooked. It is also the continuous open-ended nature of episodes, set in the present and containing a number of alternating story lines which gives the audience sense of continuous pleasure (Brown, M: 1994, pg. 58). The fact that soap operas resists narrative closure, meaning that the story is continuous and never ending, means there is always hope for the future (Anderson, M: 2004).
Thus viewers will continue to watch future episodes in order to come closer to seeing what will happen at the end (which never really comes). “John Davies (1984)… suggests about soap opera viewers that once ‘hooked’, they vacillate between their need to know, or the pleasure of anticipation” that keeps viewers watching (Brown, M: 1994). In discussing two radio and two television genres with reference to two South African examples, it is evident that the complexities and intricacies of various broadcasts and genres are not as simple as one would imagine.
As seen above, various genres and broadcasts draw in different audiences, and evoke various different responses in the viewer or listener. As technology continues to move forward, where will these broadcasts find themselves in the future? For now though, radio and television will continue to play an active part in almost all of our lives.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Allen, Robert C. 1992. Televisions modes of address & the social context of T. V. viewing. In Channels of Discourse, reassembled. 2nd ed. Edited by Robert C. Allen. London: Routledge.
Anderson, Muff. Soapies mirror SA’s soul. Mail & Guardian. 24 March 2004. Barnard, S. 2000. Studying Radio. New York: Arnold Hodder. Brown, Mary Ellen. 1994. Ch. 3: Soap opera and women’s talk: The pleasure of resistance. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Creeber, G. (ed. ). 2001. Introduction: What is genre? In Creeber, G (ed),The television genre book. London: British Film Institute, 1-7. Teer-Tomaselli, R and de Villiers, C. 1998. Radio: Theatre of the Mind. In De Beer, A (ed). Mass media toward the Millennium. Pretoria: Van Schaik, 147-175.