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On August 19th to August 20th, KCRWs Independent Producer Project kicked off its 5th edition of the 24-hour radio race. Radio producers from all over the world had one day to write, record, and edit a nonfiction radio story. We produced a story about Coney Island’s iconic landmark The Wonder Wheel and the journey of its owner Deno D. Vourderis, a Greek immigrant who bought and restored the ferris wheel in the early 80s. This piece is narrated by his grandson Deno John Vourderis, who continues the family tradition of maintaining and running the wheel with his father and brother. This story was made possible with the help of Amanda Deutch from Coney Island History Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to record, archive, and celebrate the oral history of Coney Island.

 

The only thing about America that interests me is Coney Island.
Sigmund Freud

Credits:
Produced by Carlo Patrão and Erica Buettner
Music by Dana Boulé.
Thanks to Deno John Vourderis and Amanda Deutch

 

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Kay Kyser And His Orchestra ‎– Dreamland (1947)

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April 30th, 2017 – It’s early afternoon on a Sunday when a small group of people starts to gather around a jug band playing near the Smith–Ninth Street subway station exit. Eli Smith, the co-founder of the Brooklyn Folk Festival and long time banjo player, welcomes everybody to this year’s edition of the Banjo Toss Competition, one of the most anticipated events of the three-day folk festival. The jug band leads the parade from the corner of Smith-Ninth Street to the Gowanus Canal, a federally designated Superfund site also known as the Brooklyn’s nautical purgatory. The rules are simple: whoever throws the banjo the furthest is the winner. But for everyone attending this ritual, throwing the banjo into the canal feels less like a competition and more like a moment of catharsis. Nevertheless, the banjo toss champion wins a brand new banjo. As a precaution, plastic gloves are provided to each participant to avoid contact with the polluted waters. Next, the banjo tossers test their throwing techniques, evaluate wind conditions, the jug band sets the rhythm, and the banjo finally makes its dive into the waters of the Gowanus Canal.

Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn

Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn

In this radio piece, Eli Smith guides us through the Banjo Toss, explaining its origins and mythos. Smith is a banjo player, writer, radio host, researcher and promoter of folk music. You can find more about his work and music here. Or visit the Brooklyn Folk Festival and the Jalopy Theatre & School of Music.

Brooklyn Folk Festival 2017

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