Publication Details

Ewart, J. and Posetti, J. N. (2010). News, views and agendas: talkback radio and Muslims. In H. Rane, J. Ewart and M. Abdalla (Eds.), Islam and the Australian News Media (pp. 161-184). Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9780522856408


Talkback radio has the power to attract and repel, delight and disgust in equal measures. The talkback phenomenon is defined by the extension of an invitation from the presenter to the audience to participate in the programme by phoning in, SMS messaging or emailing their views, opinions and contributions. While much of the Australian research in this field has been preoccupied with the talkback radio host as shock-jock and celebrity,! little attention has been paid to the way audiences conceptualise the space and themselves within that space. We initially set out to explore how talkback radio programmes affected audiences' perceptions of diversity, multiculturalism and current issues associated with these themes.2 However, it became evident in the course of the research that issues around the perceived ownership of and right of access to the talkback space and identityboth cultural and national-were closely bound up with the original question we set out to explore. As we began thinking about and talking to mainstream talkback radio audience members, we identified another gap in the research-the scant attention paid by researchers to talkback spaces created as alternatives to populist talkback programmes. In considering those spaces and the mainstream commercial talkback agendas of recent times around ethnicity and religion, we identified two culturally distinct talkback spaces and subsequently gained access to some of their audience members, who we gathered into focus groups to discuss the issues outlined above.