.This special issue arises from a one-day conference on the topic of ‘Radio Modernisms: Features, Cultures and the BBC’ that we held on 19 May 2016 at the British Library, with the support of the Communications and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster. Almost all contributors to this issue gave papers at the conference; others who spoke or who had planned to speak (Hugh Chignell, Henry Mead, Kate Murphy and Paul Wilson) enriched the discussions in welcome ways, and we remain grateful for their contributions. The talk by Paul Wilson, Curator of Radio at the British Library, brought the significant issue of archives — and their preservation, curation and accessibility — centre stage; his championing of the series of public listening events (‘Louis MacNeice:Radio Writer and Producer’, curated by Amanda Wrigley) across May and June 2016 meant that the conference’s papers and discussions were followed by an act of communal listening to, and discussion of, a little-known example of MacNeicean radio.
Radio Modernisms: Features, Cultures and the BBC
The conference was attended by around fifty participants from richly diverse areas of expertise including practice-based research and the historical study of architecture, broadcasting, classics, drama, imperialism, literature, modernism, musicology, radio, sound, television and transnationalism. The enthusiastic engagement of participants across the day underscored the sense that ‘radio modernisms’ as an idea represented a productive meeting-point for the exploration of common questions from a broad range of perspectives. This not only indicated a hot interdisciplinary topic but it also mirrored distinctive aspects of the conference’s particular focus — the programmes, aesthetics, personnel and creative practices of the BBC Features Department in the middle stretch of the twentieth century.