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Mia-Marie Hammarlin



Across all Borders : An Investigation into Radio Activities and the Scandinavian Media Model in 1959


  • Mia-Marie Hammarlin
  • Jonas Frykman

Summary, in English

“Across all borders”: An investigation into media activities and the Scandinavian Media Model in 1959

In this case study we are going to investigate two different radio productions that in interesting ways were crossing the geographical borders between the countries Sweden and Norway and between Sweden and Denmark in the year of 1959. Through the concepts of border (see Hurd et al. 2006) showing how identities are defined; and liminality disclosing how they are suspended to make room for negotiations (Turner 1969/1995), we are given the possibility to highlight how radio productions across borders presented a challenge to existing politics and culture. This study will open up new insights in what has been called the Scandinavian Media Model.

The year of 1959 saw the advent of cooperation between Swedish and Norwegian radio-monopolies. In a place called Morokulien on the very border, a fictive, mock-kingdom was constructed by the radio-program “Across All Borders”. Morokulien soon became acknowledged also by authorities with it’s elected king, post-office, passports and national emblems. Both the program and the place caught on popularity and lives on even today, although in another form. The location has an interesting prehistory as a site where peace between the two nations was manifested by another type of media – a huge monument from 1914. Here Hannah Arendt’s theory of Space of Appearance (1958) and the influence of Pierre Bourdieu’s Symbolic Violence (1979) can combine media-studies with historical and ethnographic approaches to the phenomenon of place (Frykman 2013). What made the radio show and the place so seamlessly fit into a national discourse?

Not far away, at another geographical border, Radio Mercur, the first commercial radio station ever, appeared on international waters in Öresund. The radio station was called pirate radio in the media as it was considered a lawless attack on the monopoly of the Danish National Broadcasting Corporation. It was transmitted from the ship Cheeta Mercur, and was soon to be followed by Radio Syd. The authorities did not know what to do and had, initially, no weapons to stop the "radio pirates", and with the station’s rising popularity in 1959 the offshore-radio was considered a genuine threat to the state-owned radio. Challenging the national broadcasting monopolies (Paulu 1967: 21-25) it was fiercely opposed by first the Danish and later on the Swedish and Norwegian governments. Soon after, in 1962, a “Pirate-Radio”-law - Lex Mercur - was passed trying safeguard against similar enterprises; in the end it failed miserably. Social Democrats with a firm support of the monopoly were in power in all countries at the time. Why was the provocation seen as so politically severe and how was the popular response?

The difference between the two cases present excellent opportunities to investigate the role of media in relation to politics and national identities at a particual moment – to say nothing about the Scandinavian Media Model. Still it is possible to reach actors being active in 1959. Theories and methods to be applied in the two cases will draw from media-studies as well as from contemporary ethnographic approaches, in which the team-members are trained and internationally acknowledged.

Jonas Frykman, Professor Emeritus in Ethnology with a special competence in Scandinavian culture, national identity and monument research, Lund University.

Mia-Marie Hammarlin, Ph.D in Ethnology, Assistant Professor in Journalism, Lund University, and radio- and tv-journalist (10 years of experience at the Swedish Public Service Radio and Television).


  • Journalistik
  • Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
  • Administration
  • Avdelningen för etnologi






Konferensbidrag: abstract


  • Media Studies


  • radio, borders, media model, Scandinavia

Conference name

Scandinavian Media Culture 1814-2014

Conference date

2014-10-28 - 2014-10-29

Conference place

Lund, Sweden