"For Benjamin, radio, like film, carries the potential for redistributing the means of aesthetic production, dissemination, and consumption. That its potential would not be fulfilled in Brechtian terms, or in the arrival of a “two-way medium,” is a possibility Benjamin was acutely aware of."
In an exclusive interview, Lecia Rosenthal speaks to Kester John Richardson-Dawes about editing Radio Benjamin, the first volume to focus comprehensively on Benjamin’s works for radio with many pieces translated into English for the first time. They also discuss Benjamin's critical pedagogy and financial precarity, the auditory aura and questions of citation and obscurity, and what the digital archive has done to our experience of forgetting, loss, and the severing of text from context.
KR: Could you give an outline of Radio Benjamin for readers unfamiliar with the new collection?
LR: Between 1927 and early 1933, Walter Benjamin delivered approximately ninety radio broadcasts on the regional radio stations in Berlin and Frankfurt. Of these on-air performances, some forty to fifty typescripts remain. The great majority of these texts have never been translated into English, and, even within Benjamin scholarship, have been largely ignored. Radio Benjamin, the first volume to focus comprehensively on Benjamin’s works for radio, provides translations of these fascinating materials.