In a public statement released by employees of Israel Radio's classical music station the Voice of Music - in contravention of civil service regulations - they issued a call to save the station. According to the workers, the Israel Broadcasting Authority is determined to eliminate it, and the appointment of a new director, Arieh Yass, who has no musical background, is a clear step in this direction.
The workers described Yass' appointment earlier this month as "a stinging slap in the face, extremely unreasonable, and a trampling of all professional values and integrity."
Given that concerts by the Eretz Israel Symphony Orchestra were being broadcast live as early as the 1930s and 1940s, and that the Israel Broadcasting Authority Law demands "the broadcasting of programs in the fields of culture and art ... and to promote Hebrew and Israeli creative works," one would think that the tradition of classical music broadcasting would need no advocates.
The Voice of Music - which is not just a classical music station as many people think, but also broadcasts jazz, non-Western classical music, skits and other programs - has ratings of 9 percent (among the highest in the world for a station of its kind ). It is also represents a clear implementation of the IBA Law, by preserving and reviving musical traditions, both ancient and contemporary, western and ethnic. Yet despite this, it remains at risk of extinction.
In two years the station will mark its 30th anniversary. Two years is about the amount of time the station's program editors give it, since five of the eight who remain (out of the 20 editors the station started with ) are already over 65, as is Yass.
Past efforts to close down the station failed, due to protests from listeners representing all sectors of the population. So instead of closure, its operators have apparently decided to choke it slowly to death, which is liable to blunt the protest.
Action on this must come from above: The minister responsible for the IBA, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, must retract Yass' appointment and replace him with a worthy music expert who will fill the positions at the station, save its archival treasures that are now at risk, and continue to document the cultural-musical achievements here and bring them to every home.
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