A Song in the Air

Monday, December 08, 2008

Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District, talks about how one New York neighborhood is trying to boost holiday shopping.


Renee Giordano

Comments [39]

Debbie Daughtry from Sunset Park

The music is still on! 4 days after Christmas! Please make it stop!!!!

Dec. 29 2008 10:01 PM
Renee Giordano from Sunset Park Brooklyn NY

Thank you to those of you who support the Sunset Park BID activities and recognize our attempts to create a more viable shopping district. Most people don't realize the impact the commercial strips play on the whole quality of life of a community. Our property owners and business owners may depend on the local shoppers, however, the residents also depend upon their success for a better community and enhanced quality of life. I am sorry that not everyone knows the joy that music can bring. I wish Sunset Park a wonderful holiday season, an enjoyable ending to 2008 and a Happy New Year 2009. Thank you.

Dec. 23 2008 09:26 AM
Rebecca from Sunset Park


I see a lot of people with Happy Days bags and GameStop bags. It may not have boutique-y stores, but there are a lot of stores that sell music, food, jewelry, accessories, and health/beauty items. You'll find even more if you take a look. Wander south a bit once in a while and you'll find lots of useful items. Dee and Dee is the place to go for shower liners, by the way.

Dec. 10 2008 12:21 PM
Nichole from sunset park

What I don't understand is what kind of shopping are people doing on 5th ave in sunset park? I live here and I only buy food from Key Foods and lightbulbs from the little hardware store. Are they shopping at the 99 cent stores, bakeries, and bodegas for Xmas?

Dec. 09 2008 07:38 PM
tom from 43rd Street from sunset park

The music is great fun; although, I have to admit I thought I was bonkers and hearing things until I noticed the speaker above me. On my several trips to the Avenue I've sampled enough of the music and think it appropriate. Relax and enjoy (and spend)!

Dec. 09 2008 06:31 PM
tony from Sunset Park, USA

I wanted to add to my comments:

the BID provides the holiday lighting from 37th to 64th street (with two special displays on each end of the strip welcoming folks to Sunset), the BID hosts a 15 block street festival each summer - with free amusement rides for kids, and free treats like cotton candy & popcorn, the BID hosts a holiday tree lighting with on stage performances by student choirs from local schools & churches and a free magic show (it is the highlight each year), and the day of the tree lighting, the BID takes photos of children with Santa (at no charge). This Santa photo op costs the BID about $3 per photo for about 400 kids. You need to see the joy in the faces of the kids and their parents - it is magical. It is amazing to see infants and little kids who are spending their first Christmas in the U.S. being welcomed in such a nice way to our customs (by the way, Renee is Jewish).

The BID provides workers to empty the DOS corner pails to keep them from overflowing and spilling trash onto the streets. The BID sends workers out during infrequent snows to clear around fire hydrants and at corners.

The BID provides beefed up security patrols during the holidays by hiring a local professional security firm (this costs more than 5% of the BIDs entire annual budget).

The BID - through Renee, meets with the local precinct on public safety issues throughout the year.

The BID handles hundreds of phone calls asking for assistance each year (and Renee is the only full time employee).

One of the most impactful contributions of the BID was the near 100% eradication of graffiti. This was one of the BIDs first accomplishments and it was done overnight during Renee's first year with the BID. People tend to forget the problems that have been solved.

The BID does much more, but these are just a few of the things off the top of my head.

I can't believe that anyone would have anything negative about the BID.

Dec. 09 2008 06:27 PM
Julia from Sunset Park

I love the music! It fills me with holiday spirit, and I don't find it too loud. It reflects alot of what I love at Sunset Park.

Dec. 09 2008 03:29 PM
tony from Sunset Park, USA

This really seemed like a set-up by the radio station. Renee got a call thirty minutes earlier and cheerfully agreed to change her schedule to participate. But I think the station was setting her up for a hatchet job.

I know Renee has openly responded to the two or three complaints. In the first complaint, she had the speaker moved to another pole. In the other she had the speaker turned in a different direction.

The residential dwellers on 5th Avenue are actually represented on the Board of Directors of the BID. The BID's annual budget is entirely raised by contributions of the property owners on 5th Avenue. After they pay their income tax, real estate tax, they reach deeper into their pockets to contribute (according to the size of the property) to the annual budget.

99% of the community - residents, shopkeepers, property owners, elected officials, not for profit groups will tell you, the BID has made the community a better place.

The lady who said she is from 49th St between 4th & 5th cannot be serious. Unfortunately, her corner has been the sketchiest in the neighborhood - the BID has tried repeatedly to work with the police to improve that corner, but this lady has never come forward to give assistance.

And I think the radio show did a hatchet job by selecting a religious themed song to open the show with.....

Dec. 09 2008 12:39 PM
Mario from Sunset Park

Oh my, my. Sunset Park is one of the miracle neighborhoods of NYC. It has been multi-ethnic for 50 years. The small scale housing - largely two & three story homes, encourages interaction by neighbors (not just the kids playing & going to school together - but adults chatting in front gates). But there are some folks who are "frightened" by people who don't look like them, or sound like them. Fortunately they are, as the lady said "in the minority". The music, and it is quite varied (I even contributed a suggestion for three songs) is quite varied.

I love walking the avenue, but I can't hear it when I'm up the block even a few houses, and I most certainly can't hear it when I'm in my car. In fact, it is sad that I can't hear it when a bus goes by or traffic is a bit noisey.

All the negative voices should have come out to the tree lighting and they would have felt some kind of blessing upon them as the little chinese kids sang Jingle Bells in Chinese - oh what a great experience. please no more "bah humbug".

Dec. 09 2008 12:28 PM
Rebecca from Sunset Park

It's only for seven hours a day. It's only for one month (not even!) a year. I live right by 5th Avenue and I barely hear it in my apartment. It's no louder than the car service guys screaming on the street.

Those who have lived here for a while know that the BID has done a lot for 5th Avenue, is it too much to ask to help them to help the stores. Take a look at the storefronts and count the amount of closed/for rent signs. Is THAT what you want for more of 5th Avenue?

And no, I am not a store owner or a member of the BID. I just want the neighborhood to thrive.

Dec. 09 2008 09:32 AM
krez el fez from manhattan

if only we had these kind of musical happy BiZZInesses everywhere, we could dance around our debts and keep the old heebiejeebies away. Tra le la la la

Dec. 08 2008 04:29 PM
Sammy from Sunset Park

The BID seems to forget that people also live in the so-called Business Improvement District--it's not just business. The music is coming into my home, through closed windows--I don't have control over it. How would the BID like it if forced to listen to something in their homes?

Giordano is only thinking about cash registers.

Dec. 08 2008 03:19 PM
Doug from Astoria

To the woman who called in as well as posted regarding the offensiveness of "religious music" being pumped into the streets. I think you will find that as with much of religious related items these songs are inevitable tradition in this country. Unfortunately, as was noted on the air, the atheist movement has spent much more time complaining about religion and religious activities that reflect into society and tradition rather than creating traditions for themselves. I feel the "stupid old songs" you are referring to are the more atheistic songs for you to enjoy. I also do not enjoy every Christmas song, however, a sign of maturity, compassion, and equality is dealing with the things in life that one may not aggree with but must at times be exposed to (particular such insignificant things as hearing the song "Silent Night" on month out of the year). I assume that when atheism is the dominant worldview of the American people than we can dissolve what is to most a sacred and heartwarming tradition.

Dec. 08 2008 12:18 PM
Rob Seitz from New Rochelle

I have done marketing and produced special events for BIDs for the past several years. Key to the success of promoting any BID is that you recognize the demographics of the community most likely to patronize BID merchants. You also want to reach out to new audiences by doing the unexpected in order to draw in these people.

Several years ago I had to lobby hard to get a "respectable" menorah installed along side the downtown Christmas tree in New Rochelle. I then had to lobby equally as hard to get the menorah lit at the appropriate time and not automatically alongside the tree lighting. I was "rewarded" for my efforts by the city's significant Jewish community by naming me "an honorary Jew" -- an honor of which I am most proud.

Similarly, just last week I was involved with another tree-lighting in Yonkers in a "non-Jewish" neighborhood. For this event I brought in musical groups able to sing in French, Spanish, Polish, English and even Swahili, as well as Portuguese folk dancers. As a result, we brought into the BID, for this particular event, close to 1,000 people, the majority of whom would not have normally frequented the community.

The bottom line: Know your audience but also think outside the box.

Dec. 08 2008 12:17 PM
Mike the crank from Putnam County, expatriate New Yorker

I see this as part of a larger trend, and I hate, hate, hate it. There are TVs or radios in every single shop these days. You can't escape the racket. It's in the grocery store, the pizza joint, the barber, the fast food place. I can't read when I have to wait the two hours in my doctor's office because they play Fox News. I have to listen to CNN for hours at the airport. There's even TV in the cabs, for Christ's sake! The worst of it is that nobody asks me or anyone else. They just assume it's OK. If there was an efficient way of asking the intended audience, I'd bet you'd find a significant percentage who just wanted some peace and quiet.

Dec. 08 2008 12:12 PM
Lisa from Sunset Park


Dec. 08 2008 12:10 PM
Paul from glen cove

Maybe they [shop owners] would have higher sales, if they were more tactful with music schedules and content; take that- you motivational research specialists!

Dec. 08 2008 12:08 PM
Brian from Brooklyn

I guess if it "improves" business it's serving it's purpose and is therefore a good idea. Personally I find ALL Christmas music nauseating, but part of living in Brooklyn is putting up with this kind of thing. If you don't want to listen to other people/sounds/noises, move to the 'burbs! As far as constitutionality, etc. goes-- it's the STREET not a publicly funded government property. Get over it.

Dec. 08 2008 12:04 PM
erin from New York, NY

There IS an atheism song now:

Dec. 08 2008 11:59 AM
Laura from Brooklyn

How about IMagine by John Lennon for the atheists?

Dec. 08 2008 11:59 AM
Miguel Rodriguez from Montclair, NJ

I think is a great idea. I think that it crates a magical holiday mood and it should be replicated in other places.

Dec. 08 2008 11:58 AM
Tim Goldman from Jackson Heights, Queens

On 82nd street in Jackson Heights(a busy shopping area), we also have music pumping in every year during the holidays. I've noticed the music has been playing more softly during the past week, and they were even playing a Carpenters Christmas carol while I was walking through on the weekend. I never thought I would hear Karen Carpenter in Jackson Heights!

Dec. 08 2008 11:58 AM
pasha molotov

Does the BID have to pay royalties?

Dec. 08 2008 11:58 AM
Stephen Klips from Brooklyn, NY

Why can't we ever be free of other people's music? Music is too readily imposed on us - in stores, restaurants, doctors' offices. The choice of type of music is always necessarily on the side of mass market mediocrity - and in this season, a vile commericialized style of pseudo-Christmas music.

As one who loves and cares about music but does not equate it with the trash our culture produces, I would like to be free of this constant imposition.

Dec. 08 2008 11:58 AM
JG from NYC

Constitutional? It is naturally protect3ed speech under the first amendment.

Dec. 08 2008 11:58 AM
Jane from Sunset Park

The music is nothing short of noise pollution. I have fought in vain to get stores to turn down their amplifiers only find that music is now piped through our streets?! Come on. I live on 45th Street and can hear the music in my living room. I cannot believe this is legal -it certainly not in good taste.


Dec. 08 2008 11:57 AM
jtt from nyc

This is done on 82nd Street in Jackson Heights.
It is loud, repetitive and very, very horrible.

Dec. 08 2008 11:56 AM

I cannot imagine something more annoying than having to listen "Christmas" music for seven hours a day. I would go out of my way to avoid this form of torture at any cost.

Dec. 08 2008 11:56 AM
dd from sunnyside

I can't believe what Renee Giordano is saying! How can anyone enjoy hearing Christmas music 7 hours a day? I fell so sorry for the workers - no-one cares about them - only the owners. I was brought up Christian and am familiar with the songs but 7 hours a day! come on! It's so repetitive. I don't even know how people work in any stores around this time. In my office I can stick about an hour of it but that's it. If I lived there I would be protesting big time. I feel so bad for the lady on now that hears it in her living room!!

Dec. 08 2008 11:56 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

This music is being piped into a public place, so if it is all of one religious/ethnic origin (or two or three), surely this constitutes an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

Dec. 08 2008 11:56 AM
Deb Goldstein from Sunset Park

I love it!

Dec. 08 2008 11:55 AM
a woman from manhattan

Hearing religious songs in a public area really offends me, even if I am of the religion that is being represented by the songs. Can't they stick to secular songs, like those stupid "rudolph the rednosed reindeer" type song, and steer away from "Silent Night" and the "round yon virgin mother and child"?

Dec. 08 2008 11:55 AM
Deb Goldstein from Sunset Park

I love it! When I heard it last year I thought the music was following me, then I realized what it was. I think it is fun.

Dec. 08 2008 11:55 AM
O from Forest Hills

Astoria plays Christmas music on Steinway St in Queens and it is so annoying to me I don't go over there at this time of year, I hibernate to Forest Hills, my home, and stay there till January 1

Dec. 08 2008 11:54 AM

With this going on, what things are NOT being improved in Sunset Park? How much money was spent?

Dec. 08 2008 11:54 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

I'd be singing (and acting out) my favorite song: If I Had a Hammer.

Dec. 08 2008 11:54 AM
Suzy Cho

I know for a fact my sister and her boyfriend have complained about the music to BID- saying they do not enjoy it and that is disturbs them. They live right on 5th Ave and 41st st.

Dec. 08 2008 11:52 AM
Siouxie from Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Yes, I do live in Sunset Park, and NO, I don't like the very loud music! I hate it - and it makes me seriously depressed, which is not conducive to shopping.

Very bad idea!

Dec. 08 2008 11:50 AM
O from Forest Hills

I love Enya's new Holiday album and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" for the Holidays.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Dec. 08 2008 11:44 AM

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