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This afternoon on All Things Considered, WAMU listeners, you’re in for some rare good stuff: the latest in the Radio Diaries series led by superstar (well, at least in the land of pubradio nerds) Joe Richman. Diaries, a nonprofit radio production outfit, is taking a break from its amazing Africa stories to dig into audio histories.
Today’s piece tells the little-known story behind the story of West Side Story, which wasn’t actually about the whitey Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks and being all pretty and gay. Originally it was called “East Side Story” and starred the conflict between Catholics and Jews; the plot was changed to reflect new ethnic tensions brewing in NYC.
Pretty prophetic. Fifty years ago today—-a month before the musical opened on Broadway—-Michael Farmer, a white teenager was killed in predominantly Hispanic Washington Heights, marking a “turning point” in the city, according to Richman. You may have to wade through a bunch of typically boring NPR stories to get to it, but if past Radio Diaries are an indication, it’ll be worth it. And tomorrow it’ll be online. Fancy.