Mega-metropolises like New York, with its eight million citizens, often overshadow places with smaller populations. But Hudson, Beacon, and Port Jervis each has fewer than 15,000 residents, and they are all considered to be cities as well. Duncan Crary, a media specialist and inhabitant of Troy (another Valley city with a population of just over 50,000) hopes to heighten awareness of these urban areas through a series of podcasts called A Small American City.
The podcasts — short audio broadcasts that can be accessed on the Internet — debuted at the end of December and gained 3,000 listeners in the first 10 days. The episodes, which air twice a month, discuss issues facing small cities — like the meaning of “urbanism” and the type of lives residents lead — using Troy as an example. Crary mentions in the pilot that he is going to be “a sort of cheerleader for my little city.” Now is an opportune time for him to embody that role, since Troy is on the upswing after its decline during the ’60s and ’70s. “People are coming to Troy and creating work, whether it’s as a photographer or setting up a small boutique,” Crary says. “The city is attracting people with that entrepreneurial, rebellious spirit.”
On air: Podcaster Duncan Crary on the streets of Troy
Photograph by Brendan Kennedy
Crary designed the show so that the listener is a “welcome eavesdropper” on the discussion. “The people who inhabit Troy are friendly,” he says. “They want you to sit in on their conversation.” His interviewees range from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors like William Kennedy, to sailors who work barges on the Hudson, to the carpenter who designed many of Troy’s bars.
The episodes also tackle topics like raising a family and alcoholism. “I’m not blindly singing Troy’s praises while ignoring the downsides; there is poverty here, there is violence,” Crary says. Because of this range of subjects, he believes the programs speak to a national audience. “The location will be Troy but the topics will be universal,” he says. “These are issues that all small cities are facing.” So far he has been proven correct: Crary has received positive feedback from individuals in places as far away as New Zealand.
His goal is to inspire people around the U.S. to think about their living arrangements and interactions with their fellow man. “I want other small cities to hear what’s going on in Troy and emulate it,” he says. “One of Troy’s claims to fame is that it’s the hometown of the man who was Uncle Sam. It’s fitting that I’m using the place where the personification of the United States came from as the model of the small American city.”
A Small American City can be downloaded on iTunes or at www.asmallamericancity.com. To listen to an excerpt, click on the link below:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/asmallamericancity/SAC_HVmag.mp3 (audio opens in new window)
Click here for a detailed list of the speakers in this clip (document opens in new window)