This study examines the culture of Yiddish radio in the United States during radio's golden age. Ari Y. Kelman explores the dynamic relationships between an immigrant population and a mass medium and between audience and community. By focusing on voices previously excluded from radio histories, this treatment of non-English-language radio breaks new ground in the study of both American mass media and immigrant culture. Yiddish radio directly addressed the everyday lives of Jewish immigrants, while providing them with invaluable guidance as they struggled to become American. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, radio created a virtual place where Jewish immigrants could listen to voices like theirs and affirm the sound of their community as it evolved, particularly in light of World War II and the years that followed.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Culture of Yiddish Radio
1. From the Mainstream to the Margin, 1920-1929
2. Americanization, Audience, Community, Consumers, 1925-1936
3. Listening to Themselves, 1929-1936
4. An Acoustic Community, 1936-1941
5. At Home on the Air, 1941-1949
6. Listening for Yiddish in Postwar America
Conclusion: Listening Live
Ari Y. Kelman is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of California, Davis.
“A thoughtful new study [and] a useful guide.”—Benjamin Irvy Forward
“Kelman’s study sheds a refreshingly new perspective on Jewish immigrant culture.”—Zachary M. Baker Assoc For Jewish Stds Review / Ajs Review
represents a valuable and unique contribution to radio studies scholarship and to the cultural history of Yiddish in the United States. Ari Y. Kelman unearths the hitherto forgotten 'acoustic community' of Yiddish radio and demonstrates with impressive archival research that the story of Yiddish radio in the U.S. is inextricably woven together with the origins of American broadcasting. Uncanny and haimish, local and national, bilingual and ambivalent, Yiddish radio, like much early broadcasting, is the story of an audience tuning in to hear voices like their own."—Jason Loviglio, author of Radio's Intimate Public: Network Broadcasting and Mass-Mediated Democracy
"Kelman's lively study offers fascinating evidence of Yiddish radio's monumental importance in forging group ties across time, space, and generational experience."—Derek W. Valliant, author of Sounds of Reform: Progressivism and Music in Chicago, 1873-1935
Finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, Jewish Book Council