Keith Combines Radio, Sci-Fi Short Stories In Lifelong Career

Since he was 8 years old, Michael Keith, a professor within the communication department at Boston College, has been composing science fiction. While his earliest work included flying saucers and the like, today, with over 21 books on electronic media, multifarious academic monographs, seven compilations of short stories, a widely adopted textbook about global and national radio, and a published memoir, Keith’s passion for writing remains. “I guess it never left me,” he said.

Keith was born and spent his youth in Albany, N.Y. before leaving for California with his father at the age of 11. Throughout the rest of his early adolescence, Keith and his father traveled the country together, often hitchhiking to the next destination in what Keith described as a “bizarre childhood” of irregular schooling and constant migration. In fact, he depicts his upbringing as the subject of his memoir, The Next Better Place, which Algonquin Books published in 2004 and is currently a screenplay in L.A.

Following his childhood, Keith served in the army and then went to school to become a radio announcer. For a decade, he worked in radio-in cities such as Miami, Fla., Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn.-while simultaneously taking college courses at the University of Maryland and Florida International University. Ultimately, however, Keith decided to pursue a degree, and so he attended the University of Rhode Island to complete his undergraduate education. “I enjoyed it,” Keith said about his experience as an announcer, “but I didn’t like being confined to a studio for six, seven, eight hours at a time. You get claustrophobic. So, I went on to finish school.”

In 1975, Keith graduated with a B.A. in English, and he continued with his graduate and doctorate studies at URI, as well. Keith attained his M.A. in English in 1977 and his Ph.D. in 1998, and he began teaching full time at Dean College in 1978 as the director of radio and television and an associate professor within the communication department.
Following his employment at Dean College, Keith first taught at George Washington University until 1992, and he then served as the chair of education at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago while also instructing at Marquette University. At both George Washington and Marquette, he taught mass media courses on broadcast operations and media history. Keith came to BC in 1993, where he now teaches Radio in Culture and Society and Broadcast Century Issues-two writing-intensive classes-and in the Woods College, Survey of Mass Communication. Keith has also given creative writing workshops in Cape Cod over the summer.

In addition to teaching, Keith’s professional life often leads him abroad. In May, he will travel to Iran to speak at a radio forum, and he has also spent time in Russia and South Africa, among many other places, to present guest lectures on his area of expertise.

Despite his early interest in radio announcing, Keith said that writing always interested him: “I always aspired to be a writer,” he said. Toward the end of his schooling and throughout his first years as a professor, he started writing articles that appeared in small publications, such as academic monographs-scholarly books that treat a particular issue, which, in his case, usually dealt with the historical background and implications of radio and broadcasting. From subjects such as American FM broadcasting to the underground radio and the ’60s and sex and indecency in radio, his monographs covered various aspects of radio within the U.S.

Additionally, Keith, noting deficiencies in the texts utilized for studies on radio and broadcasting, conceived the idea for a more modern book. Therefore, he authored The Radio Station, which was first published in 1986 and is currently in its ninth edition as the most widely used textbook on radio media in America-though now under new editors and renamed Keith’s Radio Station. Further, he strayed from academic writing and began to write creatively, publishing The Next Better Place in 2003, as well as many short stories.
“The memoir really whet my appetite to do more creative writing,” Keith said. “You rely so much more on imagination than on piles of research.”

Keith revealed that he most enjoys composing short stories, and he classifies much of his work as speculative fiction, a genre that encompasses aspects of fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and peculiarity with unusual occurrences and people, although occasionally, he will incorporate elements of realism or naturalism into his pieces. “It’s kind of like a hobby,” he said about his writing. This past Friday, Keith released his seventh collection of short stories: The Collector of Tears, a compilation of around 50 bizarre, fictional tales-“with a smattering of naturalism,” he added with a laugh.

Since he was 8 years old, Michael Keith, a professor within the communication department at Boston College, has been composing science fiction. While his earliest work included flying saucers and the like, today, with over 21 books on electronic media, multifarious academic monographs, seven compilations of short stories, a widely adopted textbook about global and national radio, and a published memoir, Keith’s passion for writing remains. “I guess it never left me,” he said.

Keith was born and spent his youth in Albany, N.Y. before leaving for California with his father at the age of 11. Throughout the rest of his early adolescence, Keith and his father traveled the country together, often hitchhiking to the next destination in what Keith described as a “bizarre childhood” of irregular schooling and constant migration. In fact, he depicts his upbringing as the subject of his memoir, The Next Better Place, which Algonquin Books published in 2004 and is currently a screenplay in L.A.

Following his childhood, Keith served in the army and then went to school to become a radio announcer. For a decade, he worked in radio-in cities such as Miami, Fla., Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn.-while simultaneously taking college courses at the University of Maryland and Florida International University. Ultimately, however, Keith decided to pursue a degree, and so he attended the University of Rhode Island to complete his undergraduate education. “I enjoyed it,” Keith said about his experience as an announcer, “but I didn’t like being confined to a studio for six, seven, eight hours at a time. You get claustrophobic. So, I went on to finish school.”

In 1975, Keith graduated with a B.A. in English, and he continued with his graduate and doctorate studies at URI, as well. Keith attained his M.A. in English in 1977 and his Ph.D. in 1998, and he began teaching full time at Dean College in 1978 as the director of radio and television and an associate professor within the communication department.

Following his employment at Dean College, Keith first taught at George Washington University until 1992, and he then served as the chair of education at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago while also instructing at Marquette University. At both George Washington and Marquette, he taught mass media courses on broadcast operations and media history. Keith came to BC in 1993, where he now teaches Radio in Culture and Society and Broadcast Century Issues-two writing-intensive classes-and in the Woods College, Survey of Mass Communication. Keith has also given creative writing workshops in Cape Cod over the summer.

In addition to teaching, Keith’s professional life often leads him abroad. In May, he will travel to Iran to speak at a radio forum, and he has also spent time in Russia and South Africa, among many other places, to present guest lectures on his area of expertise.

Despite his early interest in radio announcing, Keith said that writing always interested him: “I always aspired to be a writer,” he said. Toward the end of his schooling and throughout his first years as a professor, he started writing articles that appeared in small publications, such as academic monographs-scholarly books that treat a particular issue, which, in his case, usually dealt with the historical background and implications of radio and broadcasting. From subjects such as American FM broadcasting to the underground radio and the ’60s and sex and indecency in radio, his monographs covered various aspects of radio within the U.S.

Additionally, Keith, noting deficiencies in the texts utilized for studies on radio and broadcasting, conceived the idea for a more modern book. Therefore, he authored The Radio Station, which was first published in 1986 and is currently in its ninth edition as the most widely used textbook on radio media in America-though now under new editors and renamed Keith’s Radio Station. Further, he strayed from academic writing and began to write creatively, publishing The Next Better Place in 2003, as well as many short stories.
“The memoir really whet my appetite to do more creative writing,” Keith said. “You rely so much more on imagination than on piles of research.”

Keith revealed that he most enjoys composing short stories, and he classifies much of his work as speculative fiction, a genre that encompasses aspects of fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and peculiarity with unusual occurrences and people, although occasionally, he will incorporate elements of realism or naturalism into his pieces. “It’s kind of like a hobby,” he said about his writing. This past Friday, Keith released his seventh collection of short stories: The Collector of Tears, a compilation of around 50 bizarre, fictional tales-“with a smattering of naturalism,” he added with a laugh.

 

About Corinne Duffy 36 Articles
Corinne Duffy was the Features Editor for The Heights in 2015.