RAM FM financial straits stop the music

English speaking station airing from Ramallah generates less than expected n advertising revenue.

ram fm 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ram fm 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
RAM FM, the independent English-speaking radio station broadcast from Ramallah, has gone off the air due to a lack of advertising revenue, officials said Sunday. The station, which was financed by South African Jewish entrepreneur Isaac "Issy" Kirsch, was inaugurated in February 2007 in an effort to promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. The station stopped broadcasting on Thursday, station manager Maysoun Odeh-Gangat said. "Although we are aware that RAM FM established a platform for dialogue and understanding, the decision was taken by the Board of Directors following its inability to generate sufficient advertising revenues to sustain its ongoing operations," according to a statement read on the air. Modeled after a Johannesburg radio station that provided a venue for reconciliation during apartheid, the music station (the name is short for both "Ramallah" and the Hebrew word for "high," as in volume) was picked up in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as throughout the West Bank, and had a diverse audience of listeners ranging from IDF soldiers to Palestinian university students, as well as English-speaking immigrants, migrant workers and foreign diplomats. The station operated under a Palestinian license and had its Jerusalem studio and transmitter shut down by Israeli police in April for broadcasting in the city without a permit, at the behest of the Communications Ministry to stop interference with other broadcasts and signals at Ben-Gurion Airport. Pirate radio stations, including haredi stations, have been repeatedly blamed for dangerous disruptions in air traffic communications. The last song broadcast on the station on Thursday was John Lennon's 1969 classic "Give Peace a Chance."