These research notes consider radio art as a collision/collusion between the ancient traditions of orality, art as an artifact, and radio as an instant information access mass communication system.
Radio art is created using radio.
Radio is a medium for creating, communicating, and consuming art.
Radio art creates immersive contexts rich with aural and acousmatic narrative opportunities.
The transmission capabilities of the radio medium provide artists the ability to reach large
The radio medium is used in new and different ways
The radio art artifact may promote close, attentive listening.
A new art form, using sound to create art, and radio to share it with others.
Radio art provides new opportunities for sounds from various sources and cultures to create and sustain new narrative strategies and subvert historical media conventions.
Through broadcasting, radio art provides a bridge between art and popular culture, as well as the perspective that sound, listening, and hearing are real and concrete participatory practices.
Background information about these and other ideas, and listening opportunities, are provided.
Soon after its implementation, early in the 20th century, radio was seen by artists as both a site for artistic practice and a challenging art form in its own right. Perhaps this interest evolved from experimental, underground, avant-garde sound art, which could be created for and distributed via radio. Called "radio art" or "transmission art," this interplay provides an intermedia framework, prompts a multiplicity of practices, and redefines the relationship(s) between artist and audience, transmitter and receiver, along with the telecommunications airwaves as the site for its practice. 
Radio art is a creative practice to explore the potential for radio as an art medium.
Radio art uses radio technologies to create radio art and then transmit (broadcast) a signal containing the radio art to distant listeners for their consumption via receivers, or radios.
Radio art is always open to redefinition, intent to put communication tools in the hands of artists / the public for the realization of democratic cultural communication.
Radio art addresses the imbalance of sight over sound, how the visual overly influences the way we relate to and think about our daily lives.
The result: a new art form, using sound to create art, and radio to share it with others. Through broadcasting, radio art provides a bridge between art and popular culture, as well as the perspective that sound, listening, and hearing are real and concrete participatory practices.
Roots of radio art might be seen in the Futurist and Dada movements in Europe. Both movements provide insight and inspiration to contemporary radio artists across a wide range of theory and practice. See the Sound Poetry inquiry for more.
The first examples of using the radio medium to produce art might be the German Hörspiel ("hear play"), a form of radio drama that mixes radio documentary, soundscape, electroacoustic music, and sound editing techniques. In 1924 Radio Frankfurt broadcast "Zauberei auf dem Sender: Versuch euner Rundfunkgroteske [Wizardry on the Air: Attempt at a Radio Grotesque]" written and produced by Artistic Director Hans Flesch. In Flesch's experimental radio drama, a broadcast is interrupted by a wizard who creates chaos in the broadcast studio so to hypnotize the listening audience with sonic illusions (Gilfillan 2009). This broadcast is noteworthy as it experimented directly with the radio medium, drawing critical attention to its framing and contextualizing of the broadcast even while disrupting its continuity and illusion.
Gilfillan, Daniel. Pieces of Sound: German Experimental Radio. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. 2009.
Walter Ruttmann's "Wochende [Weekend]" may be the earliest recorded example of radio art. Ruttmann (1887-1941), a German filmmaker, is most noted for his 1927 film Berlin—Symphony of a Great City, a pioneering audio-visual montage that followed the activities of the industrial city and its inhabitants throughout the day. For this documentary film, Ruttmann captured daily life in Berlin with a sound camera. The audio was recorded on the optical track of the film stock.
In 1930, using film stock from Berlin, Ruttmann produced "Weekend" which he presented in theaters as as a sound-only experience. No images were projected on the screen. Audiences listened to the 11 minute 30 second collage of words, music fragments and sounds representing a weekend in Berlin. The effect was a sonification of the visuals one would expect from a film, but a film without images.
Weekend was also broadcast on radio, and for that reason is sometimes called a
radio play. It certainly may be the first significant experiment with audio montage for
radio. Listen to Weekend. 
Ruttmann's "Weekend" recalls Luigi Russolo's "Risveglio di una citta [Awakening of a City]," which paid homage to the tumult, speed, and noise of a modern city. LEARN more.
A connection might also be made between Ruttmann's "Weekend" and The City Wears A Slouch Hat by Kenneth Patchen and John Cage. Patchen wrote the script for this radio drama. Cage composed live and recorded sound effects. Every scene in Patchen's drama, narrated by "The Voice," is accompanied/interpreted by Cage's percussion / sound effects, creating an aural imagery that permeates every aspect of the imaginary city.
Listen to "Ruttmann's Weekend as Routemap to Capitalism" by Ben Watson, available at Internet Archive. Watson plays excerpts from Ruttmann's "Weekend" as introduction to materials which share its social materialism. Watson finds in Weekend the opening chords of Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" (1958), as well as predictions of the alarm clock in Johnny Guitar Watson's "It's a Damn Shame" (1977) and more.
Critical theorist and philosopher Walter Benjamin produced approximately ninety Hörspiele between 1929 and 1933. Radau um Kasperl is a good example. Kasperl was a popular figure in puppet theater and popular with children. Benjamin used Kasperl to prompt children to reflect on the radio medium, the different functions and practices of radio, and to illustrate malpractices in seeking large audiences. Two portions of Walter Benjamin's original performance of Radau um Kasperl survive. Listen to Kasperl auf dem Jahrmarkt.
and Radau um Kasperl: Kasperl in Zoo.
 To me, radio art is different from transmission arts, a multiplicity of practices—performance like video art, theater, media installation, networked art, and acoustic ecology—that engage aural and video broadcast media. Often, transmission arts are live, participatory, time-based, dynamic and fluid, always open to redefinition, intent to put communication tools in the hands of artists / the public for the realization of democratic cultural communication networks. As a result, the media are used in ways different from their original (commercial) intention. This interplay prompts redefinition(s) between artist and audience, transmitter and receiver, along with the telecommunications airwaves as the site for its practice.
A fine anthology of transmission artists and their work(s) is Transmission Arts: Artists & Airwaves by Galen Joseph-Hunter with Penny Duff and Maria Papadomanolaki (New York: PAJ Publications, 2011). Joseph-Hunter and Papadomanolaki note transmission arts offers a great deal of latitude and creative license to artists and content providers, and future radio assures a medium for its transmission.
Regarding the overlap of radio + transmission art, I think specifically of how they might be used as sites for narrative and storytelling. Some questions.
Radio art also addresses the imbalance of sight over sound, how the visual overly influences the way we relate to and think about our daily lives. The key is listening. Artists have responded with manifestos staking out territories for their practices.
The Kuntsradio manifesto, "Toward A Definition of Radio Art," by Robert Adrian, is notable for both its rhetoric and practical application.
Kunstradio, founded in Vienna, Austria 1987, by Heidi Grundmann broadcasted weekly on Oesterreich 1, is the cultural channel of Austrian National Radio, Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF). Kunstradio Online was created in 1995 to announce and archive the weekly broadcast. Beginning in 1996, the weekly program and other live projects were streamed via the Internet. The relative ease of access to this content shifted the program focus from performance to installation. Indeed, several projects have evolved where a number of artists utilizing computer networks at locations around the world can interact with constantly evolving and potentially unending online radio art projects.
As a curated on-air gallery for live and recorded projects, Kuntsradio utilizes radio as the content, context, and site of the art it showcases. It is at once an interface, an agency, and a program where international artists can create and explore telecommunications within the current day broadcasting landscape.
The PizMO manifesto provides another insight into the mindset of radio artists.
pizMO (Intermittent Project of Objective Musical Zone) is a collective of French artists working "to develop factual & event musical moments quasi-improvized and programmed starting from digital audio, electronic and data-processing devices. The concert is for them a kind of temporary 'camping' (free laptop party or open audio streaming), a temporary interface of their non-stop activities on the networks and the medias which they explore (radio, edition, p2p, streamings, etc). During these events, they join friendly real time video collectives." The "links," and "mp3" sections of the pizMO website are useful and insightful.
With an undeniable artistic flourish, these manifestos theorize not only the creation and consumption of new and different aural content but also positioning listening to these sounds as a carefully considered and purposefully conducted activity. In practice, each manifesto suggests radio art as simultaneous acts of collaboration, communication, creation, consumption, and curation.
After World War II, German Hörspiel artists began experimenting with magnetic tape, producing a number of genre bending soundscapes composed of found or manipulated sounds. These experiments inspired Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs, and others who pioneered techniques for tape recording, editing, and splicing. Their "cut-up" techniques are still used today by radio artists to challenge conventional radio broadcasting.
A contemporary upshot is Ferdinand Kriwet's Hörtexts (Radio Texts), assemblages of found sounds, sound samples, and noise. Kriwet spent a month in a New York hotel (11 July-11 August 1969) recording everything he could hear from radio and television reports of the Sunday, 20 July 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. He edited these materials into a 21-minute sound-text poem, Apollo America (first broadcast 20 November 1969 as Hörtext VI).
Radio art was not confined to Germany. American percussionist and sound artist Max Neuhaus (1939-2009) produced two works, Public Supply 1 (1966) and Radio Net (1977), both of which used telephone and radio networks across the United States to involve listeners in the production of live, interactive works of sound art distributed by radio.
For this work, Neuhaus combined the national telephone network and WBAI radio in New York to generate content for a live broadcast. Neuhaus installed ten telephone lines in the broadcast studio and built a rudimentary telephone answering system. Callers, once connected, could contribute whatever sounds they liked. Neuhaus mixed these sounds together and fed the resulting mix to a microphone, which fed the station program broadcast. Neuhaus likened this work to "forming a dialogue, a dialogue without language, a sound dialogue."
"I realized I could open a large door into the radio studio with the telephone; if I
installed telephone lines in the studio, anybody could sonically walk in from any
telephone. At that time there were no live call-in shows. [. . .] Although I was not
able to articulate it in 1966, now, after having worked with this idea for a long time
and talked about it and thought about it, it seems that what these works are really
about is proposing to reinstate a kind of music which we have forgotten about and which
is perhaps the original impulse for music in man: not making a musical product to be
listened to, but forming a dialogue, a dialogue without language, a sound
(Neuhaus 1994, 21-23)
The original work is over one hour in length. In this three minute sample you can hear
that some of the callers are introverted, while others are very extroverted. In either
case, at the time of making this work, it was not a familiar experience to hear one's
voice on the radio. Listen to Public Supply 1.
Neuhaus, Max. "Rundfunkarbeiten und Audium [Broadcast works and Audium]" Transit, Zeitgleich [a June 1994 arts and media conference], Vienna 1994.
2 January 1977
Max Neuhaus described this work as a two-hour, real-time, nationwide "musical composition." Neuhaus used five National Public Radio affiliate stations around the country (WNYC New York, KUSC Los Angeles, KERA Dallas, KSJN Minneapolis, and WABE Atlanta) as origination points. Listeners were invited to call the closest station and whistle a continuous tone into the telephone until they were disconnected by the Neuhaus-built answering system. A self-mixer and various filters looped the sound(s) at the originating station, and then through the five loops provided by each of the participating stations. The end result, a cluster of slowly shifting tones, emerged in Washington, D.C., where it was broadcast across the National Public Radio network 2 January 1977, 5:00-7:00 PM EST. Listen to this short sample from the broadcast.
"Radio Net" at Ubuweb: sound website
Max Neuhaus official website
"Public Supply I" sample
20 November 1969
Another example is Radio Event. From 30 October 1969-7 June 1973, KPFA radio's (Berkeley, California) Music Department, directed by Charles Amirkhanian, gave artists from various disciplines air time to create situations that physically involved the listening audience, making them active participants rather than passive listeners.
On 20 November 1969, dance choreographer and intermedia artist Anna Halprin led the KPFA audience in a participatory event (Radio Event No. 3: Furniture Mix, 50:59; http://radiom.org/detail.php?omid=RE.1969.11.20.c2) where they were to rearrange their home furniture in time with musical selections played during the radio program and then visualize a fantasy that occurred to them during the process. Listeners / participants were encouraged to call the station and share their fantasies, which were included in the program's conclusion. Musical selections included excerpts from "Goin' Out of My Head," "Live for Life," "Don't Fence Me In," and Renaissance vocal, "Mozart Symphony No. 35."
Listen to "Radio Event No. 3: Furniture Mix". See also Inter-Media & Visual Arts at the radiom.org website for information and listening opportunities for episodes 1-5, 7-9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, and 23.
The first full time radio art station, established as a work of art, began transmitting
30 June 1988, in West Berlin, Germany. The station was founded by Polish artist Wojciech
Bruszewski and German artist Wolf Kahlen. Bruszewski developed computer software to
randomize a looping playback of pre-recorded philosophical ideas. Computer synthesized
voices represented two characters, Paula and Gary. As each voice recited a random
philosophical idea, the appearance was a protracted real time discussion. Bruszewski
called his work "Radio Ruins of Art" and envisioned it as an indefinite broadcast of
philosophical inquiry using a chance-based playback system. The station stopped
broadcasting in November 1989. "Radio Ruins of Art" remains the longest work of radio
art broadcast by a radio station dedicated to radio art. Listen to a sample from
Radio Ruins of Art.
How to build the
simplest FM transmitter?
by Tetsuo Kogawa, Japanese DIY radio activist
Radio Art: Art Through the
by Knut Aufermann
Radio art is almost as old as radio itself, and yet it is little known as an art genre. This article presents some examples of contemporary German radio art, and some from other places in the world.
Toward A Definition of Radio Art
Radiocasting: Musings on Radio and Art
Radio Art: Broadcast or Outcast?
"Radio Art: An Acoustic Media Art Form"
Styles, art radio and web radio, and references.
Website for international sound and radio artist Anna Friz. Spend some time here. Listen and learn. And, check out the "links" section for even more great resources for radio and transmission arts.
Website for sound artist Felicity Ford, who uses sound to animate, describe, and explore the physical world.
Magz Hall radio art
Website for Magz Hall, research scholar exploring the rich history of radio as an artistic medium and the relationship between radio as an artistic medium, the artist, and the technology.
International radio art festival held in Lisboa, Portugal, every two years.
A temporary project radio for contemporary arts, produced by CONA (Institute for Contemporary Arts Processing; http://www.cona.si/), Slovenia. Launched in 2008, it is a platform that uses the radio frequency space in art contexts. FM frequency is understood as public space, explored from different perspectives and mediated through artworks audiobooks, programming and exhibitions. radioCona is intervention into public space.
New Adventures in Sound Art
Explores new sound technologies in conjunction with the creation of cultural events and artifacts. Sponsors the Deep Wireless Festival each year in Toronto, Canada.
An international consortium of radio stations (mostly European) producing radio art, experimental radio, and creative radio. Their mission: "Bringing new and forgotten ways of making radio to listeners." A new radio art program is produced each week by one of the member stations, and aired by all others. Each round of shows is called a "season." Access all their programs through this website.
Begun in 2005, Radio Silence provides opportunities for artists to express themselves via radio art. The website is entirely in French.
No longer in production. Formally offered by RN, a radio production house in Australia. Was a showcase of radio art, soundscapes, performance and composed audio features that explored a space where voice, noise, and music fused together. Past programs are available at this link.