The Sound of Exclusion
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
8 b&w illustrations
Release Date:14 Dec 2021

The Sound of Exclusion

NPR and the Latinx Public

The University of Arizona Press
As a network that claims to represent the nation, NPR asserts unique claims about what it means to be American. In The Sound of Exclusion, Christopher Chávez critically examines how National Public Radio conceptualizes the Latinx listener, arguing that NPR employs a number of industry practices that secure its position as a white public space while relegating Latinx listeners to the periphery. These practices are tied to a larger cultural logic. Latinx identity is differentiated from national identity, which can be heard through NPR’s cultivation of an idealized dialect, situating whiteness at its center. Pushing Latinx listeners to the edges of public radio has crucial implications for Latinx participation in civic discourses, as identifying who to include in the “public” audience necessarily involves a process of exclusion.

Chávez analyzes NPR as a historical product that has evolved alongside significant changes in technology, industry practice, and demography. In The Sound of Exclusion, Chávez asks these pressing questions: What kind of news organization was NPR intended to be? What has it become over time? In what ways is it evolving to meet the needs of a nation, in which U.S. Latinxs are becoming an increasingly larger portion of the American public that NPR serves? Informed by more than fifty in-depth interviews conducted with public radio practitioners from all aspects of the business, Chávez addresses how power is enacted in everyday broadcast practices. By interrogating industry practices, we might begin to reimagine NPR as a public good that serves the broad and diverse spectrum of the American public.

By analyzing NPR’s capacity to serve the Latinx community, this book makes a unique contribution to the literature on Latinxs and the media. While appraising secondary sources and examining insights from interviews and observations, the book provides a comprehensive review and analysis of how broadcast industry practices reify racial and social inequalities.’—Jessica Retis, co-author of Latin Americans in London: Narratives of Migration, Relocation, and Belonging

‘In The Sound of Exclusion, Christopher Chávez thoroughly investigates why and how U.S. Latinx people have been systematically underrepresented on National Public Radio in terms of personnel, their languages and ways of speaking, and the stories that are relevant and useful to their lives. In doing so, he clarifies the stakes of a public broadcasting system that purports to serve the American public as a whole but is actually quasi-commercial and depends on delivering particular audience commodities to corporate sponsors and cultivating the most likely donors. This in-depth examination of National Public Radio as an institution, the programs it produces, and the people who bring them to us not only shows what is preventing Latinx people and stories being fully included in this forum but also points to the spaces of possibility for greater representation—within, outside, and on the edges of NPR as an institution.’—Emily West, author of Branding Ubiquity: Amazon, Digital Distribution, and Platform Capitalism
Christopher Chávez is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. He holds a PhD in communications from the University of Southern California. He is author of Reinventing the Latino Television Viewer: Language Ideology and Practice and co-editor of Identity: Beyond Tradition and McWorld Neoliberalism.
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