Michelle O’Connor

Sounds of Significance

Audio. Duration: 3 min.

My research and practice in concerned with community – place and people. In particular, how we listen to our community and what our community sounds like.  I am influenced by Kate Lacey’s notion of listening out, where listening to unfamiliar stories from unfamiliar places can encourage deeper understandings of one another (Lacey, 2011). I have a background working in community radio and identify a listening out approach to my radio production work when I have striven to produce stories of diverse people and places to share with the audience. As a listener of radio, I have experienced “mediated bodily world travel” (p. 18) through radio documentary, feature programs and podcasts where I am introduced to people and places unfamiliar to me.

Whereas Lacy aligns listening out with listening to the unfamiliar, my research and practice focuses on listening out for the familiar as a foundation for considering the meaning of local significance. I argue that listening out for local significance on the radio aligns with the intent in Lacey’s theory and concept of mediated bodily world travel, as a way of encouraging deeper understanding of others in our community and our local surroundings.  Audiences can travel adventurously through stories of difference through radio formats like documentary which take us to places we have not yet been where we meet people from different backgrounds. Likewise, podcasts make available stories, voices and commentary covering a broad range of topics that might extend beyond what is familiar to the listener. Local news on the other hand, is an example of locally significant broadcast material that aligns with the notion of the audience listening out for the familiar. Through local news, interviews, Council updates and service announcements, community radio audiences listen out for what is familiar about where they live.

In responding to the notion of listening out for local significance I set out explore non-mainstream radio content – like the broadcast of sounds, as a programming option for community radio stations. Sounds of Significance is presented as a playlist of sounds for radio broadcast.

Lacey, K. (2011). Listening Overlooked. Javnost – The Public, 18(4), 5-20. doi:10.1080/13183222.2011.11009064

Michelle O’Connor is a Lecturer in Communication and teaches radio in the School of Communication and Creative Industries at Charles Sturt University’s Bathurst campus. Michelle’s research interest draws from radio, listening, soundscape, radio art and storytelling, and she is currently progressing through a PhD investigating the meaning of local significance in Australian community radio. Michelle has a background in community and commercial radio and has received commissions as a freelance audio features producer. Michelle publishes audio work to sounds.around on Instagram.

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