Zeno Radio

Cellphones As Radios: Immigrants Dial In To Native Stations

Can you imagine what it would be like to drive a taxicab for 10 to 12 hours a day?  What if you didn’t speak English very well?  I think the hours would get pretty boring.

Well, one entrepreneur in NYC has come to the rescue of thousands of immigrant cab drivers with an invention called Zeno Radio.

The idea is to connect U.S. immigrants with radio stations back in their home countries.  The beauty of Zeno is that the only equipment that’s required is a person’s cellphone.

Zeno customers can program their phones to receive faraway broadcasts from Egypt, Morocco, Somalia, and Senegal—just to name a few.  A hundred of the stations broadcast in French.

For many homesick immigrants, Zeno gives them a feeling of being back home.  The broadcasts aren’t necessarily special, but just hearing some normalcy in the form of music and news reports can relieve the stress of being separated from one’s homeland.

Zeno operates on even simple, inexpensive cellphones, and it is cost-effective because most cellphone users have unlimited data and calling packages.

 Baruch Herzfeld (photo source: www.metro.us)

Baruch Herzfeld (photo source: www.metro.us)

Zeno founder Baruch Herzfeld says subscribers can access 2,000 or more stations. It earns money from advertising and investors, and makes a few cents per call from telephone routing companies with space wanting more business.

Immigrants working in solitary jobs and feeling culturally isolated can feel a little less lonely these days, thanks to Zeno Radio.

Check out their website here: http://zenoradio.com.

Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.