My research centres on listening in the modern mediated public sphere. It asks how listening has changed in relation to successive media innovations and how the act of mediated listening figures in modern public life. Listening is explored as an activity in the public sphere, rather than as a code for the passivity long associated with audiences of mass media. It amplifies the auditory roots of the word 'audience', a word that combines the experiential with the public aspect of mediated culture. I propose 'listening' as a rich concept with which to analyse both  the politics and the experience of media communications across the long twentieth century. My book on the subject, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age was published in April 2013 by Polity.


"...this book belongs on the small shelf we reserve for those especially evocative studies that can transform our understandings of what seem like familiar processes". Gary Woodward, Journal of Mass Communication and Society.

"Lacey has created a foundation from which scholars of communication (be it mediated, political, or rhetorical) can proceed to take listening seriously [and] opened an important clearing into new questions and ideas about mediated communication". Lisbeth Lipari, Political Communication.

"...the book is particularly welcome in helping to erode the relentless presentism of ‘new’ media studies, and to open up the necessary historical dimension we need in order to counteract it. Lacey does more than open up this dimension. Her book extends and enriches our understanding of what it involves". Michael Pickering, European Journal of Communication.

"Lacey provides a deep historical, theoretical and material understanding of listening […] The book deserves a broad readership for the accessible manner in which it handles a range of sophisticated ideas. It is a historical survey of listening in the age of mass media, and a philosophical reflection on the nature of our relationship with sound, its mediation and theorization and indeed the political nature of this dynamic." Paul Long, Discourse and Society

"There is much in this book that is familiar (media, the public sphere, histories of speech and radio), but rarely have I been challenged to look at something from a different perspective based on such convincing argument and theorisation. Throughout, Lacey refers to the idea of opening up new ways of thinking about the reception of mediated texts. She achieves this, and the work is enlightening and important to a wide range of audiences." Kate Ames, Media International Australia.

"Listening Publics...raises many thought provoking questions, and presents ideas and theories that the communication field might do well to study more.Peter Kreten, Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media

"Kate Lacey's timely and thoughtful history of listening, a topic so long submerged within accounts of mdoern broadcasting, offers a welcome challenge to existing theories of the public sphere. Her account of our practices of listening *out* is an important new reference-point for an age of heightened sensory complexity."
Nick Couldry, LSE

"Kate Lacey is a leading historian of radio who has now turned her attention to listening. A long-neglected aspect of the experience of broadcasting is brought to life in this engaging, thoughtful study of listening as a communicative right and responsibility. An invaluable addition to our understanding of how broadcasting works for its audiences."
Paddy Scannell, University of Michigan

"At once subtle and stunning, Kate Lacey's exploration of the history and concept of listening as a distinct cultural practice adds immeasurably to both the field of sound studies and our understanding of the role played by mediated communication in modern history. This careful delineation of aural practices shows how central the act of listening has been in the formation of social structures and ways of understanding the world around us."
Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"A sparkling synthesis of broadcast history and social theory that is full of original insights and nuggets from primary research, Listening Publics unfolds the neglected politics and ethics of the ear. A marvelously sane plea for listening as a key mode of participation in the public sphere."
John D. Peters, University of Iowa


My earlier research also focused on the history and theory of the media, and broadcasting in particular. A main focus has been the interrogation of changing definitions of the public and the private and the interplay of gender politics and media history. My first book, Feminine Frequencies: Gender, German Radio and the Public Sphere, 1923-1945 was published by the University of Michigan Press in 1996.



I have supervised several doctoral research projects on public sphere theory, European media, and emergent media, both historical and contemporary (including dissertations on early cinema in Brighton, the early television industry at Alexandra Palace and the emergence of the internet as a democratic forum), and would welcome research applications in these areas, as well in media and gender studies, radio studies and sound studies.

Current research students:

Laura Maynard, Radio Guangdong and the Liberalisation of Chinese Broadcasting, 1986-1996 (co-supervised with Prof. David Hendy)

Former research students:

Rachel Tavernor, From Spectacle to Solidarity: visualising social movements in the British media (awarded 2017) (co-supervised with Dr.Eleftheria Lekakis)

Corinna Schaefer, A precarious web of identities, places and communication infrastructure: The German settler press in Africa, 1898-1916 (awarded 2017) (co-supervised with Prof.Alan Lester)

Alan D'Aiello, Communicating in the Local: Digital communications technology use in Brighton’s gay pub scene (awarded 2016)(co-supervised with Andy Medhurst]

Munira Cheema, The production and reception of gender-based content in Pakistani television (awarded 2015) [co-supervised with Dr.Kate O'Riordan]

So Hyung Kim, Between the Private and the Public: Affective Politics, Media and Public Engagement in Contemporary Korea (awarded 2014) [co-supervised with Prof.Michael Bull]

Javier Viega Mato, The Spanish Media and the Internet: New Practices Built on Traditional Values (awarded 2013) [co-supervised with Prof.Caroline Bassett]

Christiana Karayianni, The impact of different forms of communication on bicommunal relations in Cyprus (awarded 2011) [co-supervised with Dr.Anastasia Christou]

Pollyanna Ruiz, Articulating Dissent from the Margins to the Mainstream: The Communicative Strategies of Protest Coalitions (awarded 2010) [co-supervised with Janice Winship]

Jairo Lugo, Democracy, Development and ICTs: A cross-national study of the UK and Venezuela (awarded 2007)

Emma Sandon, From Vision to Mundanity:Television at Alexandra Palace, London 1936-1952: Memories of Production. An Oral History Approach to the Reassessment of the Early Period of British Television History (awarded 2004)

Garrett Monaghan, The South Coast Bubble: The Emergence of the Moving-Image in Brighton Before 1914 (awarded 2001)

Sae-Eun Kim, Communication, Culture and the Korean Public Sphere (awarded 2001)

Jonathan Peck, In Search of Public Discourse: The internet and the next transformation of the public sphere (awarded 2000)

Related work

Editorial Board member of the International Journal of Cultural Studies

Editorial Board member of The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media.

Editorial Borad member of the Radio, Sound and Society Journal 

Member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College

Founding member of 'The Radio Studies Network' which is devoted to raising the profile of radio within the field of media and cultural studies and the academy more generally.

Member of the Southern Broadcasting History Research Group.

Member of the Women's Radio in Europe Network.

Member of the UK Radio Archives Advisory Committee.

Honorary Associate of the Centre for Media History, McQuarie University, Sydney, Australia