May 20, 2010

Oral History Association honors Podber’s work

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill.-- An article by Jacob J. Podber that looks at the introduction of television into Appalachia is receiving an award from the Oral History Association.

Podber, an associate professor of media studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, earlier this month earned honorable mention honors from the Oral History Association’s 2010 Article Award Committee. Podber’s article, “Television’s Arrival in the Appalachian Mountains of the USA: An Oral History,” was published in the journal, “Media History.” He will receive his award at the organization’s convention in October in Atlanta.

“It’s a special honor to have my work recognized by a national organization whose membership is dedicated to the collection and interpretation of oral testimonies that foster socio/historical awareness,” Podber said.

Podber’s book, “The Electronic Front Porch: An Oral History of the Arrival of Modern Media in Rural Appalachia and the Melungeon Community,” is the recipient of numerous literary awards. The book looks at the arrival and impact of radio, television and the Internet on rural Appalachia.

The book earned third-place honors for Appalachian Book of the Year by the Appalachian Writers Association. Podber said he’s honored his work is recognized by “the community of scholars that studies this vital region to which I have devoted so much time.”

The book also earned the 2008 Ray and Pat Browne Literary Book Award for the Best Focused Study in Popular and American Culture from the Popular Culture Association/American Cultural Association.

Podber began his research while a doctoral student at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, which is in Appalachian Ohio. Mercer University Press released the book in fall 2007. The book features 86 oral histories with recollections dating back to the introduction of battery-operated radios in the 1920s.

“Appalachia is an underserved community and it’s deserving of researcher attention,” he said.