The first part of the book, Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound, covers the emergence of documentaries in radio, a relatively recent phenomenon. Besides the storied stigma against ‘documentaries’ of any kind in Reagan’s America, one of the main reasons for the late establishment of this airwaves sensation is the recent invention of accessible and portable recorders. The fact that sound can be recorded anywhere, on the move, and by almost anyone, changed the nature of the medium in some ways. The networked society we live in favors this fusion of new and existing technologies to create something completely new, beyond the expectations of the engineers and industrial designers that put them together in the first place. Imagine if FDR’s fireside chats had been recorded in the open, while surrounded by some of the struggling Americans he intended to inspire, their voices echoing in the background.
A similar development of different technologies and techniques coming together to revolutionize a medium is found in movies. While films can be essentially defined as a series of still pictures that, when shown on a screen, create the illusion of moving images. However, the gradual development of filming techniques, acting and storytelling skills, camera angles and points of view, color images, and finally digital technologies, moved the art-industry complex beyond the bare-bones projection of a motion-picture illusion.