For its first few years on the air Israel station, The Voice of Peace, did not carry news bulletins. Although the DJs would have liked to introduce such a service they could never persuade station owner, Abie Nathan, to agree. He argued that because most of the broadcasting staff were British or 'western' they did not fully understand the Middle East problems and they could unwittingly compile biased news bulletins which, in a volatile situation, could prove dangerous.
From time to time Abie Nathan himself would go on air, often from his home or the station's landbased offices via the Motorolla mobile telephone link, to talk about various news stories and give his views on current issues. He also presented a regular "Peace Programme" each evening between 6.00 and 7.30pm during which he covered topics relating to current affairs in the Middle East.
A regular news service was eventually introduced on the Voice of Peace in April 1977. This was presented on the top of each hour – initially on the even hour the BBC World Service news was relayed and on the odd hour bulletins from the Israel state radio, Kol Israel. However, later in the year the BBC bulletins were dropped in favour of those from Kol Israel.
The news service was introduced because the Voice of Peace realised that it was losing 60% of its audience in Israel at the top of each hour as listeners tuned to the state radio to hear the latest news and then either did not, or were slow to, re-
In practical terms DJs on the Voice of Peace had to listen carefully for 'out cues' in the news bulletins -
The bulletins and of course the out cues were all in Hebrew,
whilst most of the DJs were only English speaking so they had to learn the cue words or phrases to know when to begin the music again.
Occasionally the Kol Israel newsreaders would play tricks on the Voice of Peace DJs by reading the news faster than usual, making it more difficult to identify the cue words or sometimes, after the time signal pips allowed a few seconds of dead air before starting to read the news.
This particular trick left the Voice of Peace DJ in a dilemma -
We simply made sure the studio clock was spot on, played our news jingle at about 10 seconds to the top of the hour and wound the fader up with Reshet Bet (News channel) on it. I know in the early days the VOP tried to do their own news, but relied on BBC World Service by just relaying that from a local AM transmitter which I think was in Jordan.
The news readers at Kol Israel used to play games with us, even though it meant their output became rather unprofessional. We took the top of the hour pips from them, that way listeners could check their watch or clock and we could keep an eye on the studio clock’s accuracy.
On occasions the pips would go, our jingle would fade and we would expect the bulletin to begin, but they would pause and wait until we gave up and pulled out, then they would start the bulletin. It became a silly game and who knows what their listeners thought of it. It got ridiculous with them leaving longer and longer gaps and we started playing little bits of music until they started the bulletin.
They started getting complaints from their own listeners so they stopped it !