The ‘ears of the country,’ Mickey Gurdus dies at 73

The media personality fluent in six languages monitored news from foreign countries for almost five decades.

Mickey Gurdus in his recording studio (photo credit: YONATAN SHAUL/MAARIV)
Mickey Gurdus in his recording studio
(photo credit: YONATAN SHAUL/MAARIV)
Mickey Gurdus, who brought news of the world to Israel since long before the digital age, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack. Gurdus, 73, had been battling cancer for three years.
Gurdus, who had worked as a monitor for Israel Radio for almost four decades, listening to radio stations around the world, and almost around the clock, was seldom seen without a pair of ear phones clamped around his head and surrounded by masses of monitoring and recording equipment with which he recorded news bulletins that he often translated and played on Reshet Bet.
As technology improved, he also began monitoring television broadcasts from abroad; the roof of his Tel Aviv apartment was a sea of satellite dishes.
In addition to Hebrew, Gurdus was fluent in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Polish and brought news to Israel in real time from countries that broadcast in those languages.
In the pre-Internet age, Gurdus often was the first in Israel to know of major news events, such as wars and other calamities that were taking place around the globe, and he conveyed this information to the Israeli public.
Gurdus was also a security asset. In 1975, he was the first to report the hijacking of the Air France plane by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and during the Yom Kippur War, he monitored Egyptian television news broadcasts that showed Israeli paratroopers landing in Egypt and being captured.
IDF photographers subsequently came to his apartment in Tel Aviv to take still photos of the television images he had captured so the POWs could be identified.
Gurdus worked for the Israel Broadcasting Authority from 1968 to 2014. It was a combination of factors, including disagreements with various IBA journalists, the onset of his illness and the fact that he had passed pension age that led to the cessation of the long relationship.
He is survived by his wife, Bilha, and three daughters.
He will be laid to rest at the Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.