Situating Radio in the Soundscape of Mandate Palestine

Publication Date

Summer 2021

Document Type


Organizational Units

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Religious Studies


Mandate Jerusalem, Soundscape, Radio, Music, Cinema, Religion, Telephone, Language, Technology


This article situates radio within the broader soundscape and social world of 1930s–1940s Mandate Jerusalem. It examines several layers of the radio soundscape: the sounds of the broadcasting studio, the sounds and noise that radio listeners might have experienced from their set, and the sounds of radio broadcasting as mingled with other kinds of sound in Jerusalem's public and private urban spaces. Contextualizing radio sounds within the broader urban soundscape improves our understanding of radio's position within the social world of Mandate Jerusalem, and of the broader interrelations between sounds and the lived experiences of Mandate Jerusalemites. Jerusalem provides a worthwhile case study because of its historic religious importance, its increased political importance as capital of the Mandate administration, and because the Palestine Broadcasting Service, the state radio service, was headquartered there. Laying out the contours of this broader soundscape also helps move us closer toward a “sounded history” of this period – one in which scholars integrate sounds of various kinds into their analyses, as integral parts of Jerusalemites' lived experiences. Understanding the richness of this aural landscape, which included communications technologies like the telegraph and telephone, and transportation technologies like buses and trains, helps bring to life the broader societal and political context of the Mandate's major events and developments.