Israel Radio's late-night talk shows disrupted

real radio 88 298 (photo credit: )
real radio 88 298
(photo credit: )
Night owls who enjoy listening to talk shows on Israel Radio's Reshet Bet may either have to change their sleeping habits or miss out on their favorite programs. With increasing competition from regional radio stations and Army Radio, the powers that be at Israel Radio have decided to devote more late-night hours to popular music. The first casualty of the new policy was Yovav Katz, whose program The Two of Us Together and Each of Us Apart did not air last Tuesday night, or more accurately in the early hours of Wednesday. Netiva Ben Yehuda's program - devoted to reminiscences of the Palmah era, with call-in listeners often in their 80s - was not broadcast either, but it was not clear whether it had fallen victim to the change or was canceled because of the snow. But the Spokesman's Office at the Israel Broadcasting Authority confirmed that Elihu Ben-Onn's weekly international call-in program, The Israel Connection, which has a strong following in Israel and abroad, is being moved. It has been on air for nearly eight years from midnight to 3 a.m., aimed at people living around the world. Next week, it moves to a 2 to 5 a.m. slot Ben-Onn chose not to comment on the shift. But Michael Jankelowitz, the foreign press liaison for the Jewish Agency, criticized the move. "The Jewish Agency feels that [this program] is an important vehicle between Diaspora communities and Israel. Jewish Agency shlihim [emissaries] and Zionist activists throughout the world utilize it to inform listeners of their various activities on behalf of Israel. To move the program to a new time slot would exclude many listeners in Europe, Africa and Australia, and the broadcast time would inconvenience many listeners in Latin America, Canada and the US. If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Jankelowitz urged. He also noted that Reshet Bet is supposed to be a news station, while Reshet Gimmel functions as a music station, so there is no logical reason for substituting music for popular talk shows on Reshet Bet. Critics say the the IBA has seldom shown proper appreciation for its talk-show stars. In 2003, it more or less forced the departure of Yossi Sias, the country's most admired talk show host, who helped listeners with their problems - including arranging meals and shelter for the homeless and treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics, and reuniting Holocaust survivors with lost relatives and those given up for adoption in infancy with their biological parents. Protesting that his salary was appalling low, and it was impossible for him to support his wife and seven children, Sias moved with his family to Florida. Commercial radio station 103 FM persuaded him to broadcast a similar show from there, talking on the phone to listeners in Israel. Meanwhile, Arkadi Gaydamak, who owns Radio 99 FM, is recruiting broadcasters with the aim of having the best station in the country.