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Radio - in your home, at work, in your car - brought stories to just about everyone, and now we have podcasts and audiobooks too. Picture: WhyFive
Radio - in your home, at work, in your car - brought stories to just about everyone, and now we have podcasts and audiobooks too. Picture: WhyFive

We all tell stories and rely on them to make sense of ourselves, the world around us and our place in this world. Stories help us interpret the events and people that cross our path. It is important to note how widespread and popular storytelling remains. Movies, songs, poems and games all have the capacity to tell stories — but the written word remains the preferred medium for accessible, long-form stories.

Reading is traditionally seen as the gateway to storytelling, but we should not neglect the power of oral storytelling, the tradition that seems so odd to many when encountered in other cultures. After all, the spoken word remains, for most of us, our primary and first means of communicating.

During the nascency of industrialisation, factory workers would be lucky to have a “lector” on the company payroll, providing the service of reading a newspaper aloud to those on the shop floor. Radio’s introduction democratised access to these services and introduced music to the mix (something a lector could not compete with).

Instead of destroying the job and tradition of the lector, radio planted the seed of oral storytelling for a mass audience, setting the stage for the industry to blossom and provide us with radio dramas, books on tape and our modern equivalents: the podcast and the audiobook. The next step? Making these accessible in every mother tongue.

Chase Rhys
Head of content, Fundza Literacy Trust

The FM welcomes concise letters from readers. They can be sent to fmmail@fm.co.za

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