The fourth installment of the ongoing podcast series, Bangkok is Ringing, is up now at Triple Canopy.
Or listen to it right here:
This episode discusses the state of the radio in Bangkok, with a focus on the recent history of Luk Thung stations. Briefly, Luk Thung is a genre with a strange double status, being both very popular and yet classed as old-fashioned. You hear this music all the time and everywhere – on the street, in cabs, in restaurants. Luk Thung is a big-time marker of displaced rural identity, which naturally alienates urbanites who hear its sounds as low-brow. And yet, today, the hundreds of thousands of migrants from the provinces who live and work in Bangkok are urbanites themselves. The tension in this transformation toward a new urban laboring class is never more obvious than when listening to people listen to the radio.
I spent a day interviewing Bangkokians, including street vendors who had their radios switched on while they worked, as well as teenagers in the mall whose lives seem to revolve around what they download onto MP3 players/cell phones. On another day I visited Jenphop Jopgrabuanwan, a former Luk Thung singer who now runs a community radio station (also available online)/CD shop, and generously answers questions about the history of the genre for anyone interested.
For those who know Luk Thung well, I apologize for any explanatory reductions in talking about Luk Thung and Mor Lam. There’s plenty more to say about the huge differences between these styles, but for the sake of clarity they are collapsed a bit in the episode.