Religion on the Radio
Using Christmas religious broadcasting to reframe the sacred-secular interface
Keywords:Christmas, BBC radio, conventional religion, secular sacred, ordinary secular
This article examines the breadth and depth of religion in British radio by means of a case study of eight different BBC stations on December 25, 2015. It draws on previous research by Knott and Gill where pre-established definitions of religion, in which the category of "Conventional Religion" is prioritized, have tended to obscure and underestimate the location and place of religion in British media and makes the case for utilizing a tighter rationale and methodology to better examine the relationship between religion and so-called "secular" media. Using a comparative content analysis across twenty-two individual programmes and fouty-four and a half hours of broadcasting, this article proposes that, with a more nuanced methodology, alternative and more challenging ways in which to seek, find and interact with religion on the radio can be identified, with key implications for both the category of religion and the BBC's own definition of the remit of "religious broadcasting."
Barnard, Stephen. 2000. Studying Radio. London: Arnold.
BBC Media Centre. 2015. “Live Worship, Conversation, Reflection, Tradition and Music: Christmas religious programming across the BBC.” 23 November. www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/religious-programming
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1963. Letters and Papers from Prison. London: Fontana.
Bowler, Gerry. 2017. Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Collins, Peter. 2013. “Acute Ambiguity: Towards a Heterotoplogy of Hospital Chaplaincy.” In Social Identities: Between the Sacred and the Secular, edited by Abby Day, Giselle Vincett, and Christopher R. Cotter, 39–57. Farnham: Ashgate.
Connelly, Mark. 2012. Christmas: A History. London: I.B. Tauris.
Cox, Harvey. 1975. “The Secular City: Ten Years Later.” The Christian Century, 92(20): 544–547.
Day, Abby. 2013. “Euro-American Ethnic and Natal Christians: Believing in Belonging.” In Social Identities: Between the Sacred and the Secular, edited by Abby Day, Giselle Vincett and Christopher R. Cotter, 61–74. Farnham: Ashgate.
Day, Abby, Giselle Vincett, and Christopher R. Cotter. 2013. “What Lies Between: Exploring the Depths of Social Identities between the Sacred and the Secular.” In Social Identities: Between the Sacred and the Secular, edited by Abby Day, Giselle Vincett and Christopher R. Cotter, 1–4. Farnham: Ashgate.
Deacy, Christopher. 2016a. Christmas as Religion: Rethinking Santa, the Secular, and the Sacred. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754565.001.0001
———. 2016b. “Christmas on the Radio.” Oxford University Press Blog. 23 December. https://blog.oup.com/2016/12/christmas-radio-bbc/
Devenport, Mark. 2012. “Census figures: NI Protestant population continuing to decline.” BBC News. 11 December. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-20673534
Douglas, Susan J. 2004. Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Fleming, Carole. 2002 . The Radio Handbook. Abingdon: Routledge.
Gill, Robin. 2012. “Religion, News and Social Context: Evidence from Newspapers.” In Religion in the News, edited by Jolyon Mitchell and Owen Gower, 45–59. Farnham: Ashgate.
Iqbal, Nosheen. 2012. “BBC Asian Network: 10 Years Old and Still Going Strong.” The Guardian. 26 October. www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2012/oct/26/bbc-asian-network-10-years-old
Hoover, Stewart. 2006. Religion in the Media Age. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203503201
Knott, Kim. 2013. “The Secular Sacred: In between or both/and?” In Social Identities: Between the Sacred and the Secular, edited by Abby Day, Giselle Vincett and Christopher R. Cotter, 145–160. Farnham: Ashgate.
Knott, Kim, Elizabeth Poole, and Teemu Taira. 2013. Media Portrayals of Religion and the Secular Sacred: Representation and Change. Abingdon: Routledge.
Landau, Christopher. 2012. “What the Media thinks about Religion: A Broadcast Perspective. In Religion in the News, Jolyon Mitchell and Owen Gower, 79–87. Farnham: Ashgate.
Loviglio, Jason. 2013. “Public Radio in Crisis.” In Radio’s New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era, edited by Jason Loviglio and Michele Hilmes, 24–42. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203124673
Luckmann, Thomas. 2013. The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society. London: MacMillan.
Lynch, Gordon. 2007. “What is this “Religion” in the Study of Religion and Popular Culture?” In Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture, edited by Gordon Lynch, 125–142. London: I.B. Tauris.
McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. “The Tribal Drum.” AV Communication Review 12(2): 133–145.
Niebuhr, Richard. 1952. Christ and Culture. London: Faber & Faber.
Robinson, John. 1963. Honest to God. London: SCM.
Romain, Jonathan. “Speaking on behalf of God…” In Religion in the News, Jolyon Mitchell and Owen Gower, 139–151. Farnham: Ashgate.
Royle, Roger. 2012. “Popular Media, News and Religion.” In Religion in the News, Jolyon Mitchell and Owen Gower, 153–160. Farnham: Ashgate.
Scannell, Paddy. 1996. Radio, Television and Modern Life, Oxford: Blackwell.
Shingler, Martin and Cindy Wieringa. 1998. On Air: Methods and Meanings of Radio. London: Arnold.
Smart, Ninian. 1998. The World’s Religions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stringer, Martin D. 2013. “The Sounds of Silence: Searching for the Religious in Everyday Discourse.” In Social Identities: Between the Sacred and the Secular, edited by Abby Day, Giselle Vincett and Christopher R. Cotter, 161–171. Farnham: Ashgate.
Ter Borg, Meerten B. 2008. “Transcendence and Religion.” Implicit Religion 11(3): 229–238.