CRANFORD, NJ — For a project called 565 New Jersey, radio reporter and voiceover specialist Bernie Wagenblast, a resident of Cranford, is collecting sound “postcards” from each of the 565 municipalities in the state of New Jersey, starting with a recording taken right here in Westfield—a snippet from the Westfield Community Band’s concert in Mindowaskin Park on July 4, 2013. To hear that recording, click here.
So far Wagenblast has collected 112 sound “postcards,” each with a photo, from around the state—some he recorded himself and some that he found, such as a radio report of the Hindenburg disaster in Manchester Township. They can be viewed and heard on Pinterest by clicking here.
“New Jersey has a surprising number of municipalities for such a small state,” said Wagenblast, who hopes to finish the project in six years at a rate of about 100 sounds per year. But, he noted, “Realistically, it will probably take a bit longer than that.”
Not just any sound will do, explained Wagenblast. It has to be something identifiable and distinctive to that community.
“In Paterson, it was the sound of the Great Falls,” he said. From Roselle, he collected sounds from the Warinanco Skating Center.
Wagenblast said he chose to begin the project with a recording of the Westfield Community Band during its annual Independence Day concert because of the Norman Rockwell-like Americana feel of it—people sitting on chairs and blankets, the town cannon, the patriotic marching music.
“It was sort of an idyllic Fourth of July image,” he said.
The project gained national attention this summer when NPR's All Things Considered broadcast a feature on the project.
Wagenblast is the voice of the "next train" announcements on the NYC subways, AirTrain JFK, AirTrain Newark and a traffic reporter on CBS Radio's 1010WINS and New Jersey 101.5. You can visit his blog, Cranford Radio, at http://cranfordradio.wordpress.com.