New boss at Voice of Music sparks major dissonance

New CEO's lack of musical background incenses members of the classical music and art communities.

January 16, 2012 06:00
2 minute read.

IBA logo 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of IBA)


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Members of the classical music and art communities are incensed that a person without a musical background has been appointed the new CEO of the Voice of Music, the country’s only radio station that exclusively broadcasts classical, contemporary and jazz music.

In the first week of January, the Israel Broadcasting Authority published a press release listing three people appointed to managerial positions following a decision by the IBA Tenders Committee.

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Arye Yas, 64, was appointed to head the Voice of Music. His placement, along with others, was met with dismay from veteran IBA employees and the executive of the Jerusalem Journalists Association.

State Comptroller Micha Lindentrauss announced last week that he was conducting a probe into the IBA. He made the announcement after participating in a Knesset State Control Committee meeting, where grievances were raised over the way in which the IBA dismisses and appoints its personnel.

A petition addressed to IBA directorgeneral Yoni Ben-Menachem and IBA chairman Amir Gilat is being circulated among heads of music academies and conservatories, professional classical musicians and other leading Israeli personalities, in the hopes to persuade IBA management to rescind the tender and place a more qualified applicant in the position.

The initiators of the petition clarify that they have nothing personal against Yas. They acknowledge that he is a veteran journalist with experience in other fields of culture – but not in music. They say Yas never claimed to have any expertise in music, and they are bewildered by the IBA’s decision to appoint an unqualified person for the job. Yas is not well known in musical circles.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Law, the petition’s initiators want to know why the tenders committee lacked a representative from the field of classical music. They also ask how the committee reached its decision to promote Yas, because “he has neither the knowledge nor the understanding required.”

The petition’s initiators question how Yas can maintain the station’s standards. This is yet another flaw in the IBA’s decision-making process, they say.

Some of the long-time staff members of the Voice of Music are fearful that this will be the beginning of the end for the station.

They point out that Yas is approaching retirement age, and under the conditions of the yet-to-be implemented IBA reforms, he may well be one of the people slated for early retirement. This could leave the Voice of Music in a vulnerable position with no executive to defend it against merger or closure.

An attempt was made in 2003 by then-IBA director-general Yosef Barel to merge the Voice of Music with Reshet Alef. Barel saw this as a cost-cutting efficiency measure, but the proposal was met with such opposition that the status quo remained.

It was not the first time that an IBA director-general tried to cut costs at the expense of the Voice of Music.

All such efforts have failed thus far because the Voice of Music was headed by a strong and committed musical personality.

If the station is cut, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, which receives approximately 30 percent of air time for the broadcast of live performances, would lose one of its most important outlets for reaching audiences beyond the concert hall.

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