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Voices on the Radio

With an emphasis on letting people speak in their own voice, we continue a New York Folklore Society mission to promote understanding across cultural boundaries.We believe understanding of diversity leads to tolerance and compassion.


Programs & Services

Voices of New York: New York Folklore Society’s Folklife Radio Documentaries

The New York Folklore Society produced a number of five-minute radio documentaries featuring the folklife (skills, traditions, stories, music, dance, folk art and material items) found in New York State. With eleven documentaries, they were presented as a collection to public radio stations on a local and national level.

Cover of radio documentary CD
Cover Design: Jennifer Wilkerson/Aurora Design. Illustration: Polly M. Law, 2003.
The New York Folklore Society developed the folklife radio series to celebrate the people of New York and the art they create in their everyday lives—their traditional art forms, unique community life, and the sense of order and aesthetics that pervades both work and play. The series taps the cultural riches found in the folklife of a state that, perhaps more than any other in the Union, is the product of many cultures.

Each documentary features one master of a traditional art form recorded on location. In their own words—the voices of New York traditions—these tradition bearers describe how they learned their skills, whether from family members or from elders handing traditions down to a new generation. The series seeks to show the strength and power of folk traditions and how they affect people’s lives and shape their identity. It demonstrates that traditions can remain remarkably similar over time, change from outside influences, or become vehicles for personal expression as people infuse tradition with their own artistic sensibilities.

The radio series provided a unique opportunity for folklorists around the state to partner with professional radio producers. We had successful collaborations with Joyce Kryszak of WBFO in Buffalo, Lamar Bliss from Potsdam, NY, Robert Brown of WMHT in Schenectady, and Ginger Miles of New York City. The project was executive produced by Dale Johnson and Lamar Bliss.

The features are “evergreen”—they are not tied to a specific date, season, or holiday and can be heard anytime—and exemplify traditions found in various regions of New York State. They are intended for all ages and are free for nonprofit use. Included in each documentary are an introduction and funding credits to be read by radio stations’ local announcers. For more information on these documentaries, please e-mail us or phone 518/346-7008.

Listen to the tradition bearers:
Quinceañera capia made by Francisca “Panchita” Davila.
Photo: Mary Zwolinski

The New York Folklore Society’s programs are made possible in part with public funds from the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Council on the Arts

NEW YORK FOLKLORE SOCIETY ♦ 129 Jay Street ♦ Schenectady, NY 12305 ♦ 518.346.7008 ♦ Fax 518.346.6617 ♦ nyfs@nyfolklore.org