Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit

Posts tagged radio

from "When Old School Tech is Better," by Corrina Lawson, GeekDad, 7 October 2009

I’ve been trying to teach him the nuances of the NFL. He likes watching the games on television, he loves the New England Patriots–particularly Tom Brady–but he gets confused a great deal because the television announcers do a lousy job of explaining on what the play is, who’s in the game, and how the defense is set.

We tried computers. I bought an old Madden game as a learning tool but that also assumes a great deal of knowledge about the game.

Then this Sunday, we had to take an hour-long drive to meet my mother and do some shopping. We were driving back during the fourth quarter of the game between the Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. I was dying to know the score, so I tuned into the our local radio broadcast.

And my son became enthralled ... what he loved was that the announcers actually told him what was going on in the game. “Brady’s in the shotgun, three receiver set to his right, Kevin Faulk in the backfield, defense is stacking eight men on the line…Faulk goes in motion leaving an empty backfield…”

Television announcers seem to assume you can see everything in the game.  Or they’re flat out not as good. Take you pick.

excerpt A hoax hoax
from "The Hyped Panic Over 'War of the Worlds'," by Michael J. Socolow,, 24 October 2008 :: via Ideas blog

The “War of the Worlds” broadcast remains enshrined in collective memory as a vivid illustration of the madness of crowds and the deeply invasive nature of broadcasting. The program seemingly proved that radio could, in the memorable words of Marshall McLuhan, turn “psyche and society into a single echo chamber.” The audience’s reaction clearly illustrated the perils of modernity. At the time, it cemented a growing suspicion that skillful artists — or incendiary demagogues — could use communications technology to capture the consciousness of the nation. It remains the prime example used by media critics, journalists, and professors to prove the power of the media.

Yet the media are not as powerful as most think, and the real story behind “The War of the Worlds” is a bit more complex. The panic was neither as widespread nor as serious as many have believed at the time or since.

Nobody died of fright or was killed in the panic, nor could any suicides be traced to the broadcast. Hospital emergency-room visits did not spike, nor, surprisingly, did calls to the police outside of a select few jurisdictions. The streets were never flooded with a terrified citizenry. Ben Gross, the radio columnist of the New York Daily News, later remembered a “lack of turmoil in front of CBS” that contrasted notably with the crowded, chaotic scene inside the building. Telephone lines in New York City and a few other cities were jammed, as the primitive infrastructure of the era couldn’t handle the load, but it appears that almost all the panic that evening was as ephemeral as the nationwide broadcast itself, and not nearly as widespread. That iconic image of the farmer with a gun, ready to shoot the aliens? It was staged for Life magazine.

by Andy Crouch for Culture Making

One of the interesting consequences of writing a Christian book is that you end up doing a lot of interviews with Christian media. I enjoy almost all of these conversations. For one thing, I love the voices of people who work in radio! And I consistently find that my interviewers are intrigued by the topic of my book and genuinely eager to talk about it.

Still, there is one pattern to my interviews with Christian media that perplexes me, and that is my hosts’ relentless sense of pessimism about “the culture.” One of my favorite Christian radio hosts, a super-bright guy with whom I’ve talked several times, said in our most recent interview, “When we were in high school [I think he’s maybe a few years older than me] it seemed like the culture was a mixed bag. But now doesn’t it seem like it’s just gotten worse and worse?”

I had to answer that honestly, that’s not how it seems to me. For example, when I was in high school I remember hearing about the horrifyingly high incidence of drunk driving. But a mother named Candy Lightner, whose daughter had been killed by a drunk driver, started Mothers Against Drunk Driving. (People my age will remember yellow ribbons tied to car antennas, inspired by MADD—come to think of it, people my age will remember car antennas.) Two decades later, the cultural horizons have shifted decisively on this issue. As Frederica Mathewes-Green has pointed out, films from the “innocent” 1950s regularly portray drunkenness (and its corollary, violence against women) with a lightheartedness that we now find inconceivable. Overall, it seems to me that culture, like Wall Street, is a random walk—improving in some ways, declining in others. The Christian job is simply to assess our current moment and cultivate and create within it. But when I express this on the air, I’m almost always greeted with disbelief, even when my hosts find the idea appealing.

What accounts for this Christian-radio pessimism about “the culture”? It occurs to me it’s strikingly similar to something documented by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons: the culture’s pessimism about “the Christians.” In their book unChristian, Gabe and Dave show just how negatively most secular Americans view Christians when they are asked to characterize them as a group—even though the same people will report that their personal encounters with Christians have been much more positive. While some of this pessimism can certainly be traced to the way we Christians are presented in mainstream media, some of it seems to come from that media filling a vacuum of experience. People just don’t have enough encounters with self-identified Christians who are not wildly judgmental, homophobic right-wingers to realize that their stereotypes are untrue. When they meet an actual Christian who doesn’t fit their expectations, they are more likely to dismiss him or her as an exception than to revise their rule of thumb.

And that, it seems to me, is exactly what Christians—especially those who by vocation spend a lot of time immersed in the Christian subculture—are doing with the culture itself. In the absence of sustained encounters with our neighbors who don’t share our faith, cocooning in our own media and social groups, we fall into pessimistic stereotypes about “the culture” out there. When we happen to actually get to know an unbelieving neighbor and find that they are not wildly permissive, atheistic left-wingers, we just file them in the “exception to the rule” category.

The most basic solution to the challenge posed by unChristian, it seems to me, is for a lot more of us to get involved, as Christians, in the structures and institutions where our neighbors spend their time. But perhaps that will change more than just our neighbors’ attitudes. We, too, may discover that “the culture” is full of grace and heartbreak and beauty and folly—not so different, after all, from the church herself.

via Lifehacker