When Andy Gershman and Ari Louis made aliya from the US in 2009, the last thing
they planned on doing was launching their own radio show – let alone having
their own radio station.
The pair met in Jerusalem’s Ulpan Morasha in
September 2009 and instantly built up a rapport through their love of
Less than a year and a half down the line, however, they have
practically become radio veterans, successfully running and marketing the only
sports show on Rusty Mike Radio.
On Monday, just a few months after they
quit Rusty Mike, Gershman and Louis’s dream project will come to fruition with
the first ever broadcast of Israel Sports Radio.
The brand new station
will broadcast live five days a week between 4 p.m. and midnight exclusively on
the Internet from its studios in Jerusalem’s Talpiot
Gershman and Louis have a full slate of programs in English
lined up, plus one Hebrew show on Wednesday
Israelsportsradio.com is a testament to the tenacity and
spirit of these two olim, and their third partner in the project,
Canadian-Israeli accountant Josh Halickman.
Gershman, a 41-year-old
Boston Red Sox fan, had always been into sports while growing up in Richmond,
Virginia, but had never worked in sports media itself.
When he moved to
Israel with his wife and two sons last August after quitting his job – training
prison inmates – he didn’t have any real career plans.
“I really wasn’t
sure what I was going to do,” Gershman said. “I was going to finish ulpan and
see what I could do, truthfully.”
But after meeting Rusty Mike owner Adam
Mallerman at a Nefesh B’Nefesh event he came up with the idea for a sports
Louis, 26, who moved here from Arizona, was Gershman’s new friend
from ulpan and had some broadcast experience. So the two teamed up and took the
internet radio waves by storm.
Now they hope to go much further with
Israelsportsradio.com after investing their own money in the project.
hope to absolutely change the face of Israeli Sports Media in the future,”
Gershman said confidently.
“Realistically, we would like to see more
Hebrew programming during the day and like to see Israel Sports Radio become a
go-to source for all news, scores and talk.”
It is this confidence and
excitement which runs right through the newly created Israel Sports Radio
family, which is mostly made up of enthusiastic ex-pat sports fans eager to
share their passion with the Jewish world and English-speaking
As well as Louis and Gershman’s nightly sports chat show, the
schedule will include Halickman’s “Sports Rabbi” slot, the intriguing David Pick
and the Wolf show and The Last Word Show presented by Associated Press Israel
sports reporter Jeremy Last.
“We are very excited. We have met and done
test broadcasts with most of the on-air personalities and feel they all have a
lot of energy and expertise that is going to be heard by our listeners,”
The aim of the station is simple, and is summed up by its
slogan: “Building love of Israel one sports fan at a time.”
programming will focus on both Israeli and international sports, but the
discussion of sports outside of Israel will often have a Jewish or Israeli
In the months leading up to Monday’s launch, Louis, Gershman and
Halickman began interviewing numerous personalities, with the recordings posted
to the Israelsportsradio.com website.
When NBA legend Amare
Stoudemire came to Israel this summer Gershman was quick to land an interview
with him. And during the Israel national team’s EuroBasket qualification
campaign, Halickman interviewed many of the team’s stars including Omri Casspi
and Yotam Halperin.
For Gershman the project is about giving the audience
what they really want.
“I am most excited about bringing something new to
Israel that I feel is much needed. I also am excited to be another bridge
between the US and Israel by bringing American sports talk to the US with an
Israeli-Jewish Flavor,” he said.
“A lot of people in the world have never
been to Israel and don’t know much about the culture. This station is going to
educate the world about Israel.”
Although he has been living in Israel
for less than two years, Louis has already become a big fan of Israeli sports,
with the passion found among the fans really impressing him.
compare the crowd in Israel to those of a college football game in the south,
but a lot more intense here.
“They’re definitely not passive,” he said of
his experience watching a Betar Jerusalem game at Teddy Stadium where the
supporters unfurled a banner protesting chairman Itzik Kornfein’s decision to
sell key players to rivals.
“They follow management’s moves and they have
public protest during games. They also have tremendous loyalty to the players on
their team or even the ones who have left,” he added in reference to the Betar
fans’ support for former player Barak Itzhaki when he returned to Teddy with
Maccabi Tel Aviv in August.
“That does happen in the States but only in
rare cases like with [former LA Dodgers catcher] Mike Piazza.
Most of the
time when the players leave, even if they are forced to leave they are booed
when they comeback.”
One of the biggest successes of Louis and Gersman’s
show on Rusty Mike was their coverage of the Israel Football League, Israel’s
answer to the NFL.
This will be taken to the next level on Israel Sports
Radio, with weekly live broadcasts of games from Kraft Family Stadium in
Jerusalem on Thursday nights.
Gershman has been a big fan of the IFL
since arriving in the country.
“I think American sports have a place here
because of the amount of Anglos. When I say here, I mean in certain areas that
are heavy Anglo populated.
“The IFL has done a great job crossing over
and will continue to grow as the level of the league grows.
can you see Gabi Ashkenazi and Natan Sharansky watching a sporting event? They
were both at an IFL game!” Gershman added that listeners shouldn’t expect
anything less than quality coverage of Israeli sports, with Jerusalem Post
Sports Editor Uriel Sturm to join Last as a frequent co-host on The Last Word
every Monday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
With just days to go until the
launch, Gersman and Louis said they aren’t nervous about the station’s prospects
and are looking forward to finally getting it off the ground.
a launch party will be held at Jerusalem’s HaGov Sports Bar and at 4 p.m. Israel
time on Monday the first show will be broadcast.
“Sports Talk is a big
part of the American Culture and the more I talked to Anglos throughout
kept hearing how much they miss following and talking about their
“Sports is entertainment and it brings people together no
matter what race religion gender or socio economic status. We want to
Anglo bridge. South African, American, Brits and Aussies all will feel
comfortable through our programming. And of course, Israelis will enjoy
show in Hebrew!”