Yiddish Radio: the Hyperlocal News of its Time

The web has only been around since Al Gore invented it, but hyperlocal news has been around just about forever. In New York, Yiddish radio stations in Jewish immigrant neighborhoods served as a kind of hyperlocal news source 80 years ago, offering radio stories, advertisements and some news items. The Yiddish Radio Project has collected some of the recordings, though most have been lost forever.

What was most striking about the radio stations to me was that some of their signals were so weak they could only be heard for a few blocks in either direction, meaning people were literally broadcasting just to their neighbors. Of course, websites about small neighborhoods can now be read on computers around the world, but their intended audience still tends to be quite local. I like to read sites that are obviously written for local people, so that outsiders will almost feel like they’re traveling to a different country when they visit.

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