There is no place in the world like Times Square. Located in midtown Manhattan, it teems with people — hardened New Yorkers and wide-eyed tourists, commuters and shoppers, theater-goers and merchants, prostitutes and policemen. Shining down are shimmering lights, flashing signs, towering billboards, and epileptic neon. And amid the throngs, illuminated by the fluorescence of consumerisms most triumphant block, walk the countless religious zealots who consider Times Square their concrete pulpit.
In 1992, photographer Richard Sandler began a video documentary to capture these street prophets in their unnatural habitat. He was guided by the question of why people would come to Times Square to inquire into the nature of god, to argue, to pray, and to convert. In 1994, after shooting more than 100 hours of videotape, he realized that there was not enough money to complete the film. Sandler shifted his focus from Times Squares sights to its sounds, collaborating with producer David Isay to create this radio documentary from his video footage. In 1999 Sandler finished his video, The Gods of Times Square, which has since won numerous film festivals.
Recorded in Times Square, New York City. Premiered December 23, 1994, on All Things Considered.
This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.