Michele Hilmes

Michele Hilmes's picture
  • Professor
  • Media and Cultural Studies
Expertise and Activities: 

The great thing about being a media scholar is that millions of others share your research interests. Along with audiences everywhere, I'm a big fan of complex serial dramas like Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, Borgen, and Mad Men. Programs like these circulate globally, attracting audiences from around the world. The relationship of radio and television to national cultures, and how programs speak to audiences across cultural boundaries, has interested me for many years. Most recently, a Fulbright Research Fellowship at the University of Nottingham in 2013-14 allowed me to study contemporary trans-Atlantic television co-production, building on my 2011 book Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting (Routledge 2011).

Radio and what I call "soundwork" -- long-form features, documentary, and drama -- is another area of interest. Thanks to digital media, we've entered a new golden age of radio, exemplified by great radio programs like This American Life, Radiolab, On the Media, NPR's news programs, and the superb dramas and documentaries produced by BBC Radio Four, all now accessible online. To explore this revolution in sound, Dr. Jason Loviglio and I recently collaborated on Radio's New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era (Routledge 2013). It contains a collection of wonderful essays by new and established scholars, exploring radio's past, present, and digitally-enabled future.

As a former director of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, the Communication Arts Department's pioneering archival unit, I have become very much involved with issues of media preservation, access, and use, particularly in the area of radio and soundwork, Right now we are in a precarious but promising moment. Radio's historic recordings stand in peril of crumbling into magnetic dust, just as new methods of digital re-capture are emerging to save them. Besides calling for renewed attention to radio in articles like "Radio's Lost Critical History" (Australian Journalism Review, 2014), I am a participant in the Library of Congress's Radio History Task Force, spearheaded by the National Recording Preservation Board under the direction of Dr. Christopher H. Sterling (a distinguished Wisconsin alum!). We want to bring radio's rich legacy to life for today's audiences and scholars, particularly local, community, and public radio.

I also recently completed a revision of my textbook, Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States (Cengage 2013), expanded and updated for this fourth edition.

Courses that I teach regularly include CA450, Cultural History of US Broadcasting; CA608, Radio and the Art of Sound; and seminars on Transnational Television, Media and the Public Sphere, and Media History and Historiography.

Here is my "official" bio, for those who might need it:
Michele Hilmes is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work focuses on media history and historiography, particularly in the areas of transnational media and sound studies. She is the author or editor of several books in this field, including Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922-1952 (1997), Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting (2011), Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States (4th edition, 2013), and Radio’s New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era, co-edited with Jason Loviglio (2013). She was a 2013-14 Fulbright Research Scholar at the University of Nottingham, England and is currently researching the history of British/American television co-production.


  • B.A. Comparative Literature (with honors), Indiana University - Bloomington, 1975
  • M.A. Department of Cinema Studies, New York University, 1981
  • Ph.D. Department of Cinema Studies, New York University, 1986


  • Fulbright Research Fellowship, University of Nottingham , Fulbright Comission , 2013
  • Faculty Fellowship , Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison , 2010
  • Visiting International Fellow , University of Central England (Birmingham, UK) , 2009
  • Honorary Associate, Center for Media History , Macquarie University (Sydney, Austrailia) , 2009
  • Grant-in-Aid , Rockefeller Archive Center , 2009
  • Helm Fellowship , Lilly Library, Indiana University-Bloomington , 2010


  • 2014. "Transnational TV: What Do We Mean by 'Co-Production,' Anymore?." Media Industries Journal , 1:2 .
  • 2014. "Radio's Lost Critical History." Australian Journalism Review , 36:2 .
  • 2007. "Front Line Family: Women's Culture Comes to the BBC." Media, Culture and Society , 29:1 .
  • 2005. "British Quality, American Chaos: Historical Dualisms and What They Leave Out." The Radio Journal , The Radio Journal, Vol. 1 #1 .
  • 2005. "The Bad Object: Television in the American Academy." Cinema Journal , 45:1 (Fall) .


  • 2013. Radio's New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era. Co-edited with Jason Loviglio.. New York: Routledge .
  • 2013. Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States -- 4th edition. Wadsworth Press .
  • 2011. Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting. Routledge .
  • 2007. NBC: America's Network. Editor.. University of California Press .
  • 1997. Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922 to 1952. University of Minnesota Press .
  • 2003. The Television History Book. Editor, with Jason Jacobs.. British Film Institute .
  • 2001. Radio Reader: Essays on the Cultural History of American Radio. Co-edited with Jason Loviglio.. Routledge .
  • 1990. Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable. University of Illinois Press .
  • 2002. Connections: A Broadcast History Reader. Editor.. Wadsworth .


  • 2013. "Never Ending Story: Authorship, Seriality, and the Radio Writers Guild." Companion to Media Authorship , Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson Wiley Blackwell .
  • 2012. "'The New Vehicle of Nationalism': Radio Goes To War." Oxford Handbook of Propaganda Studies , Russ Castronovo and Jonathan Auerbach Oxford University Press .
  • 2012. "The Whole World's Unlikely Heroine: Ugly Betty as Transnational Phenomenon." Reading Ugly Betty: TV's Betty Goes Global , Janet McCabe and Kim Akass London: I.B. Taurus .
  • 2012. "Sound Representation: Nation, Translation, Memory." Media, Sound and Culture in Latin American and the Caribbean , Alejandra Bronfman and Andrew Grant Wood University of Pittsburgh Press .
  • 2010. "Cinema and the Age of Television, 1945-1975." Blackwell's History of American Film , Cynthia A. Lucia et al Blackwell .
  • 2008. "Nailing Mercury: The Problem of Media Industry Historiography." Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method , Alisa Perren and Jennifer Holt Blackwell , 21-33 .
  • 2008. "Digital Television: High Definitions." Digital Culture: Understanding New Media , Glen Creeber Open University Press .
  • 2012. .


  • 2013. "Keynote: “Sound on Screens: The Digital Soundwork Industry and the Archive as Network,” Digital Archives, Audiovisual Media, and Culture Memory conference," University of Copenhagen , Copenhagen, Denmark , November 14, 2013 .
  • 2013. "Keynote: “Spaces of Transnational Co-Production: The Imagined Space of Masterpiece Theatre,” Spaces of Television conference," University of Reading , Reading, UK , September 20, 2013 .
  • 2009. "Invited Participant: Globalisation, Empire and Culture," University of Galway/Andrew W. Mellon foundation , Galway, Ireland .
  • 2008. "Television Without Borders: Transfers, Translations, and Transnational Exchange," University of Reading , Reading, UK .
  • 2006. "Keynote: Nationality and Television: The Anglo-American Connection and its Global Consequences," Society for Cinema and Media Studies , Vancouver, CA .


  • CA 450 - History of Broadcasting
  • CA 613 - Radio and the Art of Sound
  • CA 950 - Transnational Media Histories: Beyond "Americanization"
  • CA 950 - Media, Nation, and Public
  • CA 951 - Media History and Historiography: Sound Histories
Curriculum Vitae: