From ear to year: Podcasters discuss preserving sound of the city

Brooklyn Paper
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They’re keeping safe and sounds.

A trio of local audio aficionados will discuss their efforts to preserve the voices of Kings County, during this weekend’s On Air Fest at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. The panelists of “Saving the Sounds of Brooklyn” on March 2 hope that their projects will help Brooklynites to understand their neighbors, said one oral historian.

“We like to say we are not giving voice to the voiceless, we’re giving ears to the earless,” said Zaheer Ali, of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Ali will review “Muslims in Brooklyn,” the society’s newest oral history project featuring 50 Muslims from all 18 different Brooklyn neighborhoods. That project preserves the sounds of local people who hail from countries around the world, Ali said.

“All of those accents are there, we have different languages represented … you get a sense of the oral diversity that exists,” he said.

He will join audio producer Molly Schwartz of “Preserve This Podcast,” which focuses on helping podcasters protect their work for future generations, and Virginia Marshall, producer of the Brooklyn Public Library’s upcoming podcast “Borrowed,” debuting March 12. The forthcoming audio show will focus on local stories, as told through the lens of the library, said Marshall.

“What we’re trying to do is capture patrons’ stories, librarians’ stories, tell a little bit of the library’s history, but also really center the Brooklyn community,” she said.

Ali said all of the participants are passionate about making their oral histories available to as many Brooklynites as possible.

“Part of our understanding of the work of collecting and preserving sound is making it accessible,” he said. “We’re hoping to give opportunities for people to listen and to be listened to.”

The panel is part of a three-day “audio culture festival” featuring talks and workshops for podcast creators, and behind-the-scenes talks with popular podcasters. Highlights include an interview of author Roxanne Gay, a talk between Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown and actress Amber Tamblyn, and a reading by United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.

“Saving the Sounds of Brooklyn” at On Air Fest at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th Street in Williamsburg, March 2 at 11 am. Fest lasts March 2–4. $79 per day ($199 all three days).

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Posted 12:00 am, February 27, 2019
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