The gift of gab, for sure - but no more Gabi

The news about broadcaster Gabi Gazit evokes a sense of d j vu. Only a few weeks ago, headlines in newspapers and magazines across the country blazed that Gabi Gazit was leaving Israel Radio to go elsewhere. Then the furor died down, and Gazit remained at his post - persuaded to do so by Israel Broadcasting Authority chairman Moshe Gavish. On Sunday, Gazit handed in his resignation yet again. There is no doubt that Gazit has the gift of gab. There is also no doubt that he is one of the more popular broadcasters on Israel Radio, even though he did occasionally say things that annoyed his listeners in general and people in the corridors of power in particular. But what counts in the broadcasting game is ratings, and Gazit delivered the goods with consistently high ratings. He was also the champion of the underdog, the victim of the system and the petty bureaucrats who got a kick out of making his life miserable. Those who meted it out didn't know what misery was until Gazit picked up the gauntlet and went to battle on behalf of the individual victims of bureaucracy. With the microphone as his weapon, he unfailingly emerged triumphant, and received a thousand blessings on and off the air. Israel Radio chief Yoni Ben-Menachem considers Gazit to be "a professional broadcaster of the first order." One would think that under the circumstances life at the IBA would be fairly rosy for Gazit, but it wasn't. Gazit, who has been anchoring the Reshet Bet morning program It's All Talk for a little over two years, is still waiting for management to discuss the conditions of his employment and sign a contract with him. Given the huge deficit under which the IBA operates, management might be forgiven for being somewhat leery about signing a contract, but even without the contract, there is room for negotiation. It wasn't forthcoming. Moreover, Gazit does not see eye-to-eye with Arye Shaked, who currently heads Reshet Bet's news division, under whom programs such as Gazit's operate. Tired of being in limbo and annoyed that he couldn't bring what should be a simple arrangement to a satisfactory conclusion, Gazit decided to act on an earlier inclination to quit. Although it was the second time he'd done so in a very short period, this time it was final, he insisted. But he did leave a loophole for himself. And Gavish, Ben-Menachem and IBA director-general Moti Shklar were equally willing to leave a door open for him, should he care to change his mind. In the letter of resignation he wrote to Ben-Menachem, Gazit stated that he was unhappy to be leaving, especially because he loved his work at the radio and the people with whom he worked, but given the circumstances, there was no other way because nothing pertaining to his work conditions had materialized. "Who knows, perhaps at some future date, and perhaps in another way, we might be able to work together again," wrote Gazit, who had previously notified Gavish of his decision. Gavish regretted the move, saying that Gazit was a significant factor both to the IBA and to his listeners. "His programs were outstanding in their social sensitivity and in the struggle for the oppressed without fear of authority or affluence," he said. "They were interesting and effervescent." Gavish conceded that Gazit occasionally came out with statements that ran contrary to the policy of public radio, but said these were trivial in relation to his contribution to the IBA and especially to his public. "I'm sorry that the management of the IBA does not see fit to hold on to an asset of this kind," said Gavish. "It's a shame that Gabi Gazit, like other talents before him, chose to leave the IBA." Ben-Menachem said he would do all that was in his power to influence the various institutions of the IBA to persuade Gazit to retract. Gazit's departure was a great loss to the radio, he said. Despite the accolades, no one is indispensable, and although Ben-Menachem and Gavish have prevailed upon Gazit to rethink the situation, they are already looking for a replacement. Gazit is due to leave on May 16.