Sport and Media as Nexus of Cultural Practices: Live Radio and the Tour de France, 1929-1939

By Keiran J. Dunne.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article examines the symbiotic relationship between live radio broadcasting and the annual Tour de France bicycle race from 1929 to 1939. From its inception in 1903 through the late 1920s, the Tour was experienced primarily through newspapers. The advent of mobile live radio broadcasts in 1929 challenged the print medium’s primacy and inaugurated a mutually beneficial relationship between radio and the race. The Tour helped prove the feasibility of mobile live broadcasting at the same time as this new technology enabled the Tour to more effectively capture the audience’s attention. Radio conferred a new dimension of immediacy upon the race; live broadcasts were not viewed as representations but as transmissions of reality itself. Radio also instituted new forms of mediated sociability: listening to Tour radio coverage became an important cultural practice, both in public and private. By adhering to a fixed four-times-daily schedule during the 1930s, Tour radio coverage introduced notions of regularity and continuity into the everyday lives of regular radio listeners (who comprised approximately half of France’s population just prior to WW II), both from day to day during a given edition of the race, and from year to year. Over time, Tour radio broadcasts anchored themselves in the French cultural landscape, and memorable episodes of the race came to form the basis of a new, mediated, national collective consciousness. In this way, radio fueled the Tour’s evolution from de facto national event to national cultural institution. Conversely, the Tour helped radio anchor itself in the daily cultural practices of the French.

Keywords: Cultural History, Cycling, France, Media, Radio, Tour de France

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.67-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 745.164KB).

Dr. Keiran J. Dunne

Associate Professor, Modern and Classical Language Studies, Kent State University, Munroe Falls, OH, USA

Keiran Dunne is an Associate Professor of French and a member of the faculty in the Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University, where he teaches graduate courses in terminology and computer applications for translation, software localization and language project management, among others. He holds a Ph.D. in French Civilization from The Pennsylvania State University, as well as a D.E.A. from the Université des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg and a maîtrise from the Université de Haute-Bretagne/Rennes II in France. His research interests include software and website localization; translation and localization project management; quality management, risk management and terminology management in translation and localization; French cultural history (1870 to present); international mass communication and national identity; as well as twentieth-century cultural politics and sport. He is the editor of the volume Perspectives on Localization, and is currently preparing a co-edited volume on translation and localization project management.