Oral history goes to air: reflections on compiling oral history as radio narrative
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International scholar Alessandro Portelli emphasises the importance of orality in oral history. Yet scholars continue to showcase oral history as printed text, often supplementary to document-driven research. Works such as radio documentaries founded on primary oral history research are not afforded equivalent status as academic research. With podcasting extending the longevity and accessibility of radio programs, oral history-on-radio is set to make a significant contribution to academic research. The paper contends that oral history is communicated particularly effectively through a hybrid radio format the presenter has labelled a COHRD (Crafted Oral History Radio Documentary) – a format grounded in primary oral history research, enhanced by the imaginative aesthetic treatment of the radio documentary/feature while retaining concern for fairness and authenticity. The paper discusses the detailed methodology employed in one documentary case study, Marrying Out, which won a gold medal at the 2010 New York Radio Festival and has been broadcast in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.