Goodbye to Antenna

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In the week of November 6, 2009, Antenna published its first posts, by Matt Sienkiewicz, Josh Jackson, Nick Marx, Sreya Mitra, myself, Erin Copple Smith, Liz Ellcessor, and Kyra Hunting. I was a new faculty member at UW-Madison, and all these other writers were grad students, as Antenna was an experiment in group-blogging by the Media and Cultural Studies graduate program here.

We had been inspired especially by UT-Austin’s Flow, the preeminent media studies group blog. However, where Flow had more of a schedule, and worked with a columnist model, we hoped to create a system wherein people could write when they wanted to do so, thereby enabling timely responses to current events. The hope was that if there were enough people involved, nobody would need to promise to write much, as the system would carry itself in aggregate. We’d thereby aim to join and complement Flow, not compete with it.

It worked, and quite beautifully so. Those listed above, alongside Germaine Halegoua, Lindsay Hogan, Megan Biddinger, and Megan Sapnar Ankerson kept it stocked with content for the first month. Then, a month later, we had our first post by a non-UW grad student or instructor, when Amanda Lotz wrote for us. Within the next few months, many more wrote for us. Just over six years later, we’ve posted the words of 320 authors, with comments from many more. This is the 1229th post, which means we’ve averaged 3.85 posts a week for our lifetime. And Google Analytics suggest we’ve had a healthy readership throughout, with readership from 222 countries (even one read from Antarctica!) and about 400-600 reads daily (spiking when Myles McNutt wrote something, when Avi Santo pissed off some Whedon fans, or when we apparently hit a deep nerve of the Internet, as with posts on River Monsters or Hit Girl).

A lot of invisible labor went into this. To readers, it may’ve seemed as though posts just magically appeared, but there were always editors behind them, encouraging others to write, helping them understand Word Press, tagging and editing and polishing up posts when necessary, adding photos, organizing columns and series, and more. Those first voices on Antenna all finished up and moved on elsewhere, and were replaced by yet more amazing editors. Andrew Bottomley and Chris Cwynar were here from the start (and alongside me are now the greybeards), as were Mary Beltrán and Danny Kimball, and were joined in time as editors by the likes of Myles McNutt, Nora Patterson, Evan Elkins, Kit Hughes, Jennifer Smith, Alyxandra Vesey, Sarah Murray, Taylor Cole Miller, Drew Zolides, Tony Tran, Caroline Leader, Nicholas Benson, Jenna Stoeber, and April Bethea. Jeremy Morris and Derek Johnson also worked with us behind the scenes after their arrivals in the department, and Eric Hoyt offered background support. Throughout, Comm Arts’ fantastic staff, first Joel Ninmann, and then Pete Sengstock and Michael Trevis, have made it all possible by working the back-end.

But the gas tank is empty. We’re tired. That invisible labor has to come from somewhere, and it’s become hard to keep finding ways to gas up when we have other things going on. Roaming around for content has proven harder and harder a task with each semester. Academic blogging in media studies in general seems to have hit peak then started to decline. Many conversations are happening on Medium, Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere instead. And so we find ourselves at a point where it’s time to take down the rabbit ears and press the off button.

There are so many people to thank. I list the key grad students, UW faculty, and staff above (and picture the editors below). Andrew Bottomley, Kyra Hunting, Myles McNutt, Taylor Miller, and Alyx Vesey deserve particular commendation for regularly doing way, way more as editors than could ever fairly be expected of mere human beings. I highlight their superhuman efforts not to diminish others’, but because they’ve been especially tireless. And as writers, all hail Myles McNutt for his 52 posts. Other MCSers who’ve spilled more than their fair share of online ink are Erin Copple Smith with 27 posts, Drew Zolides with 23, Kyra Hunting with 19, Matt Sienkiewicz with 16, Andrew Bottomley with 15, Chris Cwynar with 14, Nora Patterson and Nick Marx with 13 apiece, Alyx Vesey with 11, Danny Kimball and Jennifer Smith with 10 each, and Liz Ellcessor and Lindsay Hogan with 9 each. Liz also made it all technically possible in the early days, while Megan Sapnar Ankerson made our little antenna.

Antenna has had some great friends from elsewhere along the way, too. Avi Santo, Jason Mittell, Amanda Lotz, Kristina Busse, and Jeffrey Jones were all supremely helpful in talking through what it could and should be before and after it went live. When we’ve threatened to pull the plug before, Amanda, Jason, and Kristina in particular gave me the pep talks I needed to keep going on, as they often do. All five of them produced content for us like bosses too. Jason’s written 34 posts, Amanda 20, Kristina 17, Jeff 14, and they’re joined in the 10-and-above club by Matt Hills with 21, Kristina Busse with 17, Martha Nochimson with 16, Melissa Click with 13, Brad Schauer with 12, Ben Aslinger, Allison McCracken, and Louisa Stein with 11 each, and Tim Anderson, Bill Kirkpatrick, and Elana Levine with 10 each. Especially amazing was Chris Becker with 70 posts (!!), many (but not all) from her “What Are You Missing?” column. Many more wrote multiples less than 10. And of late our great colleagues at University of Nottingham, led by the formidable Mark Gallagher and Roberta Pearson, have often held us up with their posts.

Thanks to all our readers too for reading, commenting, sharing, “liking” on Facebook, retweeting on Twitter, citing, and so forth.

We debated whether to end with a “best of” series of posts, but partly because the possibilities of the site and the day-to-day-ness of it – what it represented, and what it did in aggregate – were its greatest offerings, and partly to avoid serenading ourselves, instead let’s just end it here. In television finale terms, we couldn’t script something as emotionally satisfying as the Justified finale, and feared the mis-steps of so many other finales, so instead we thought we’d follow Cheers’ lead and say, “sorry, we’re closed,” adjust a picture on the wall, and walk off-stage, leaving a darkened set behind us. As with Cheers in reruns, we’ll keep the site up and running as long as possible so that you can still read past articles, but this will be Antenna’s last post.

With thanks to the editors who made it happen:

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And a thank you to everyone who has written for us (with apologies for anyone we’ve missed. Tell me and I’ll add you):

Rebecca Adelman

Pablo Alonso González

Hector Amaya

Robin Andersen

Bailey Anderson

John Anderson

Tim Anderson

Mark Andrejevic

Megan Sapnar Ankerson

Melissa Aronczyk

Robert Asen

Ben Aslinger

Jennifer Stephens Aubrey

Jane Banks

Miranda Banks

Corey Barker

Kyle Barnett

Kathleen Battles

Geoffrey Baym

Nancy Baym

Christine Becker

Ron Becker

Mary Beltrán

James Bennett

Nicholas Benson

Megan Biddinger

Jonathan Bignell

Trevor J. Blank

Anthony Bleach

Aniko Bodroghkozy

Paul Booth

David Bordwell

Nandana Bose

Andrew Bottomley

Maria Suzanne Boyd

Miranda Brady

Lauren Bratslavsky

Piers Britton

Will Brooker

Robert Brookey

Bill Brown

Blanka Brzozowska

Chiara Bucaria

Chelsea Bullock

Colin Burnett

Kristina Busse

Nick Camfield

Karma Chávez

Aleena Chia

Mike Chopra-Gant

Yiu Fai Chow

Cynthia Chris

Yiu-Wai Chu

Jennifer Clark

Melissa Click

Norma Coates

D. Elizabeth Cohen

Brandon Colvin

Andrea Comiskey

Cindy Conaway

Matthew Connolly

Kyle Conway

Li Cornfeld

David Crider

Phillip Lamarr Cunningham

Michael Curtin

Christopher Cwynar

Shilpa Davé

Evan Davis

Max Dawson

Amber Day

Jeroen de Kloet

Rayna Denison

Brian DeShazor

Matthew Dewey

Camilo Diaz Pino

Eric Dienstfrey

Courtney Brannon Donoghue

Bonnie Dow

Jimmy Draper

Brooke Erin Duffy

Sean Duncan

Christina Dunbar-Hester

Amanda Nell Edgar

Kate Egan

Liora Elias

Evan Elkins

Liz Ellcessor

Tarik Ahmed Elseewi

Elizabeth Evans

Anna Everett

Nicky Falkof

Brian Faucette

Brian Fauteux

Laura Felschow

Terry Flew

Sam Ford

Matthew Freeman

Kathy Fuller-Seeley

Joy V. Fuqua

Hiroko Furukawa

Mark Gallagher

Patryk Galuszka

Racquel Gates

Kamille Gentles-Peart

Lincoln Geraghty

Lindsay Giggey

Anne Gilbert

Colleen Glenn

Kevin Glynn

Keara Goin

Ian Gordon

Paul Grainge

Jonathan Gray

Brian Gregory

Hollis Griffin

Sabine Gruffat

Leora Hadas

Germaine Halegoua

Erin Hanna

Mary Beth Haralovich

C. Lee Harrington

Nate Harrison

John Hartley

Mobina Hashmi

Dan Hassoun

Timothy Havens

Mark Hayward

Heather Hendershot

Brian Herrera

Richard Hewett

Matt Hills

Michele Hilmes

Ashley Hinck

Lindsay Hogan

Lisa Hollenbach

Su Holmes

Chris Holmlund

Noel Holston

Jennifer Holt

Jonah Horwitz

Robert Glenn Howard

Charlotte Howell

Eric Hoyt

Kit Hughes

Kyra Hunting

Eleanor Huntington

Nina Huntemann

Kiranmayi Indraganti

Josh Jackson

Jason Jacobs

Deborah Jaramillo

Sarah Jedd

Catherine Johnson

Derek Johnson

Jenell Johnson

Jeffrey P. Jones

Jennifer Jones

Liew Kai Khiun

Carolyn Kane

Katie Karpuch

Mary Celeste Kearney

Amanda Keeler

Jen Kelly

Kelly Kessler

Dina Khdair

Danny Kimball

Bill Kirkpatrick

Amanda Ann Klein

Simone Knox

Carly Kocurek

Melanie Kohnen

Derek Kompare

Jon Kraszewski

Shanti Kumar

Katariina Kyrölö

Jorie Lagerwey

Laura LaPlaca

Mark Lashley

Caroline Ferris Leader

Tama Leaver

Bruce Lenthall

Suzanne Leonard

Elana Levine

Julia Leyda

Chris Lippard

Derek Long

Lori Kido Lopez

Alexis Lothian

Amanda Lotz

Jason Loviglio

Madhavi Mallapragada

Daniel Marcus

Stefania Marghitu

Kelli Marshall

Alfred Martin

Nick Marx

Catherine Martin

Ernest Mathijs

Vicki Mayer

Allison McCracken

Chelsea McCracken

Paul McDonald

Alan McKee

John McMurria

Myles McNutt

Ritesh Mehta

Ross Melnick

Cynthia B. Meyers

Brandon Miller

Taylor Cole Miller

Sreya Mitra

Jason Mittell

Kelsey Moore

Chris Moreh

Jeremy Morris

Caryn Murphy

Daniel Murphy

Sarah Murray

Susan Murray

Linde Murugan

Philip Napoli

Elizabeth Nathanson

Diane Negra

Michael Z. Newman

Jack Newsinger

Darrell Newton

LeiLani Nishime

Martha Nochimson

Andrew Owens

Kathryn Palmer

Eleanor Patterson

Roberta Pearson

Reece Peck

Allison Perlman

Alisa Perren

Anne Helen Petersen

Jennifer Petersen

Karen Petruska

Devon Powers

William Proctor

Aswin Punathambekar

Debra Ramsay

Sripana Ray

Mike Rennett

Maureen Rogers

Sharon Marie Ross

Meagan Rothschild

Leo Rubinkowski

Judd Ethan Ruggill

Alexander Russo

Maureen Ryan

Mark Sample

Rossend Sanchez Baro

Cornel Sandvoss

Kevin Sanson

Avi Santo

Stephanie Sapienza

Emily Sauter

Bradley Schauer

Philip Scepanski

Peter Schaefer

Laura Schnitker

Suzanne Scott

Robert Sevenich

Adrienne Shaw

Josh Shepperd

Shawn Shimpach

Tyler Shores

Matt Sienkiewicz

Anthony Smith

Erin Copple Smith

Iain Robert Smith

Jennifer Smith

Beretta Smith-Shomade

Jason Sperb

Carol Stabile

Matt Stahl

Louisa Stein

Chris Sterling

Jonathan Sterne

Jenna Stoeber

Bärbel Göbel Stolz

Nora Stone

David Suisman

Sylwia Szostak

R. Colin Tait

Lynnell Thomas

Ethan Thompson

Nao Tomabechi

KT Torrey

Tony Tran

Chuck Tryon

Amy Tully

Shawn VanCour

John Vanderhoef

Sonja van Wichelen

Julia Velkova

Neil Verma

Alyxandra Vesey

Travis Vogan

Ira Wagman

Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

Gregory Waller

Sam Ward

Kristen Warner

Amber Watts

Brenda Weber

Ann Werner

Thomas West

Khadijah Costley White

Timeka Williams

Booth Wilson

Joe Wlodarz

Pamela Wojcik

Jennifer Hyland Wong

Faye Woods

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young

Sabrina Q. Yu

Andrea Zeffiro

Andrew Zolides

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5 comments for “Goodbye to Antenna

  1. February 4, 2016 at 11:06 AM

    I only discovered Antenna within the last couple years, but appreciated the in-depth posts on media and cultural studies, on cultural artifacts and trends, and on interdisciplinary experiments. I don’t come from a media studies background academically and I learned from Antenna about the scope, history, and major schools within your field; thanks so much.

    I might suggest that people who liked Antenna also check out Crooked Timber http://crookedtimber.org/ , an academic group blog that sometimes covers an intersecting topic area.

    Thanks again for all your work in making Antenna; I hope the archives continue to provide valuable insight to all who stop by.

  2. Allison McCracken
    February 4, 2016 at 12:18 PM

    I am so, so sad about Antenna ending. I really valued having a space where scholars could respond in a timely manner to media events in a forum that could be shared not only among ourselves but also publicly available. I learned a lot reading others’ posts and found them to be excellent teaching tools as well. Personally, I have a lot to thank all the Antenna editors for, especially Jonathan and Myles in the early days. They allowed me to not only write whatever I wanted but took care of all the technical aspects of posting for me. They put in an enormous amount of unpaid labor, and I join Jonathan in thanking and saluting all of the editors.

    Antenna really kept me engaged as a writer when i was too burdened by administration to write very much or very often. My posts for Antenna remain some of my favorite pieces because they were “what I did for love” and they always re-inspired me as a writer. Having the opportunity to share my passions was invaluable to me, and I will miss this forum and community more than I can say. Thank you all, so very much.

  3. Michele Hilmes
    February 4, 2016 at 3:25 PM

    Jonathan, it was your vision and leadership that built Antenna into the huge success it was! I admit not having ever quite caught the blog bug myself, but I could certainly appreciate what your efforts added to our graduate program and to the field of media and cultural studies generally. I’m sad to see Antenna go! And all of you who contributed so much are to be congratulated. A fabulous success. Well done, everyone.

  4. February 5, 2016 at 9:05 PM

    Thank you, Jonathan!

    Writing for Antenna was a wonderful way to be part of a blog without feeling guilty about not posting enough. It was a way to meet and engage others and learn about corners of the field I knew little about. Most of all, however, as Allison says above, it was always a place to share the love–or, admittedly, the anger and frustration, but even then it was passion!

    You made a great thing happening here, not only getting various generations of grad students involved and motivated, but also doing a large amount of the work yourself when no one else would or could do it.

    And I hope we’ll always have an archive of all these posts here. I keep going back to reread and cite and teach certain posts and conversations.

    Thank you for all your years of work and for making this space happen in the first place!

  5. Ryan Pumroy
    February 12, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    I’m saddened to read this news. Antenna was, and still is, an inspiration for me. I loved what you all worked towards — creating and supporting an accessible, responsive academic community. Thank you to everyone for your contributions and work on this over the years.

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