In the late 70’s, radio programs on the American public radio network, NPR, were distributed via phone lines, which connected all 200 NPR stations across the country together.
In 1977, sound artist Max Neuhaus took over the NPR airwaves with Radio Net. This hugely ambitious, experimental sound installation and live broadcast lasted for two hours, and was comprised of one specific sound that was generated from callers across the country.
Neuhaus invited listeners to call in and make a certain sound, which then passed through a mixer and start looping and overlapping itself at different pitches until it gradually died away. The more phone calls received, the more complex the sound became.
And what were callers ask to do when they phoned? Whistle.
Max Neuhaus was a pioneer in the fields of contemporary art and music and was one the first to explore the role of sound as an art form. He is even credited with coining the term ‘sound installation.
Many thanks to the Estate of Max Neuhaus for the permission to share this extract of Radio Net.