Jazzing through the luminiferous ether

How international radio broadcasts affected the experience of jazz in 1920s–1930s New Zealand


  • Aleisha Ward




jazz, everyday aesthetics, radio, New Zealand


In the 1920s radio broadcasting was a new and exciting medium. It contained a multitudeof possibilities in entertainment and education, and the wonder of new technologythat connected people around the world. This article investigates the experiencesof New Zealand jazz fans and musicians 'listening in' to overseas broadcasts in the1920s and 1930s. I consider situations of the jazz listening-in experience, which couldbe isolated or social depending on whether the fan had a headset or amplifier andspeakers setup. Listening-in could also be a pure listening experience or include dancingand socializing. Finally I will examine how this activity affected fans and musicians'experience and perception of jazz, and how that impacted jazz as it was produced inNew Zealand.

Author Biography

Aleisha Ward

Dr Aleisha Ward holds a PhD in Music from the University of Auckland where sheresearched jazz in New Zealand 1920-1955. She is the 2017 Douglas Lilburn ResearchFellow and a recipient of the 2018 Ministry of Culture and Heritage New Zealand HistoryResearch Trust award investigating the Jazz Age in New Zealand. Aleisha is an awardwinningwriter, a freelance historian, researcher and lecturer in music history, and is thefounder of the Jazz Kōrero at the Wellington International Jazz Festival.


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How to Cite

Ward, A. (2020). Jazzing through the luminiferous ether: How international radio broadcasts affected the experience of jazz in 1920s–1930s New Zealand. Jazz Research Journal, 13(1-2), 130–150. https://doi.org/10.1558/jazz.37953