The mysterious charms of radio tend to make even the hearts of cynics beat faster. The simplicity of turning on a microphone, presenting and playing a song; the wonderful intimacy of speaking to an unseen listener for a broadcaster who also remains faceless; the accessibility and the dedication to the musical editor's taste - all of these add up to a listening experience that can only be found on the radio.
Now a group has undertaken a new project to get a taste of this vintage experience, and perhaps even take it a few steps forward. Two collectives of deejays and party planners - Tabac (which stands for Tel Aviv Bass Consortium, and is run by Itai Drai and Tzach Bar ) and Hargol (Dror Sher, Benji Lenfant and Shlomi Zidan ) have launched an experimental project intended to bring the radio station and its listeners together.
The group has leased a two-story space in one of the buildings in the inner courtyard that stretches behind the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv on Allenby Street. On the top floor they've set up a broadcasting work station, and on the second floor a bar with a few seats alongside it. The station will go on air for the first time today, on a trial basis, and starting this Sunday will broadcast for 120 days on the Website Teder.fm. During that period, from 2:00 P.M. until the nighttime hours, the public is invited to come, enjoy the bar and listen to the radio station that will be operating right above them.
Last week, as the five entrepreneurs were busy making final arrangements, they looked tired but pleased and excited to be launching the temporary station. Zidan got the idea of creating a radio station open to the public from New York City's East Village Radio.
"It's a radio station that broadcasts straight from the street," he explains. "I've been walking around with the idea of radio that has a physical location for a long time."
Zidan suggested the idea to Drai, who had been trying for quite a while to start a project somehow related to music.
"We've been attending Tabac parties for years, and they attend our parties," says Sher. "We tried several times to plan a party together, but we couldn't find the right common denominator. Here the musical range is greater."
Combining the two groups provides the project with added value, says Drai. "If we were to do it alone it would turn out too weird, and if they were to do it alone it would have created too much disco," he says. "What we're doing together is better than what each of us could have done alone. Teder also suits both someone who is in Arad and wants to hear good music, and someone who is sitting here on Mazeh Street [in Tel Aviv] trying to decide where to go, where to have a beer. Suddenly he hears the start of a program that sounds good to him, and he can come here."
Livening up the format
The decision to broadcast on the Internet seemed self-evident to them. "Internet radio is something that has been happening all over the world for a long time and is starting here too. That seems to be the direction that Kol Hacampus [the Voice of the Campus] is taking," Sher explains. "People listen to music on their computers in any case, so why shouldn't there be access to very good music? The only radio I've been listening to in recent years is Internet radio. Programs such as that of deejay Gilles Peterson or the New York program 'Beats in Space.' The only times I listen to establishment radio is when I get into a cab. It's unbelievable what a small cross-section of music the radio stations play. We feel there's a huge selection of music, not only nightclub music, that can be played at 2:00 P.M. which nobody plays. I don't think that anyone's played the band Fleet Focus here, for example."
"Most of the radio stations in Israel are either too commercial or too boring, or the [deejays] talk too much. It's a format that has to be livened up," continues Zidan. "We know a collection of creative artists, musicians and deejays who have a huge selection and know how to bring in the right new music that doesn't receive enough exposure here. We want to expand the circles that are exposed to this new music. In every other place in the world there are stations streaming the highest quality and most appropriate music. Every station here, with the exception of Kol Hacampus, broadcasts hit parades - and even the alternative of 88 FM no longer really exists."
To expand the musical spectrum brought to Israeli listeners, the members of Teder have chosen a very wide range of presenters, the vast of majority of whom also edit their programs by themselves. Uniformity of style or playlist is out of the question.
"This is a collection of musical statements," explains Drai. "Sometimes they come together in a logical sequence, and sometimes it's simply a lot of talented people who bring music from the heart, in an unbearably wide variety."
In fact, the Teder program includes an impressive list of local pillars of music. Shows will be presented by, among others, InDNegev with Guy Hajaj from the Oneg Shabbat blog, Maya Dunietz with Ilan Volkov, Cohen@Mushon, Markey Funk, Digital_Me, Amir Egozi, Radio Trip, Soliko, TASC, Yarin Lidor, Uri Shohat, the members of the Jerusalem bar/bookshop/comics store Uganda, the Ramirez Brothers, Yoni Sharoni, Uzi Navon, a talk show about art presented by Itay Mautner and so on. In addition, radio personalities such as Nathan Brand (who has an item on "Shai and Dror" on the program "Radio Without a Break" ), Leon Feldman (who does the "Napoleon" program on Kol Hacampus ), and Kawami (who broadcasts "Hakatzeh" on Galgalatz ) will present shows on Teder which are different in nature from what their listeners are accustomed to.
Fridays will be devoted to a party sponsored by the founders of the radio station and Shabbat will be dedicated to reggae. In addition, the general public will be invited to come with discs and recordings of their own and play them. Content from the Red Bull Music Academy and Kol Hacampus radio stations will be aired in syndication during the hours that Teder will not be broadcasting live.
"We were careful," says Drai, explaining the choices made in creating the program listing. "There was a moment when we said, all right, we're radio, let's do a morning program, a sports program, a lottery program, practical jokes over the phone - but to start we decided to concentrate on musical content, and the emphasis is on presented music. We understood that many people listen to music in bars and nightclubs and enjoy themselves and sway back and forth and even say to the person sitting next to them, 'What a nice song,' but they have no idea what they're listening to, not even in terms of genre."
Drinking in the afternoon
For the creators of Teder, the connection between a station and its physical location is particularly important, and they are hoping it will turn into a kind of small community center for the summer.
"We encourage drinking in the afternoon," says Deri, who adds that they will serve cocktails in large common pitchers, which will go well with the large picnic tables they've placed outside. Alongside the drinks there will be a menu put together by chefs Benny Lifshitz and Eyal Shani under the brand name "Abraxas North." The place was designed by Meir Guri from recycled and biodegradable materials, both because this was cheaper financially, and because the entrepreneurs did not want to leave any traces behind after the project comes to an end.
"We realized that things you find are just as good as things you buy," says Sher. "The idea is to use local items... the food, too. Everything is entirely straightforward, that's our vibe."
Of course a project put together by five enthusiastic music collectors wouldn't be complete without a few recordings that have been carefully selected and will be offered for sale alongside magazines, accessories and T-shirts made by local designers.
"There are recordings that are simply a must. We chose the albums in such a way that if someone else doesn't buy it, I'll take it home," says Drai. Sher laughs and adds: "In quite a number of cases we hope we'll be able to take them home."
The enthusiasm surrounding the idea is so great the members of Teder are already thinking about their next project. "We haven't ruled out the idea that if it goes well we'll do it next year in a different place," says Zidan. "Maybe at an alternative TV station, or a mini-nightclub, or a gym."