July 15, 2014 - It begins with the baritone voice of Benny Bashan, murmuring into the microphone, quietly, leisurely singing, “Oseh shalom bimromav.... Hu ya’aseh shalom alenu...”
“He who makes peace in the Heavens, He will bestow peace upon us . . .” The ancient Biblical passage is also part of a Jewish prayer recited several times a day.
The noisy, chaotic reporting that characterizes Israeli radio coverage of the missile fire to this point in the day stops still. You can tell that his mike placement is deliberate, and he is crooning as close to the mike as he dares to, without popping the consonants... it’s a canned intro but effective.
The ‘straight man’ side of his team consists of a woman and a second male who changes from time to time. They chat easily, comfortably, and accept phone calls from listeners across the life span.
He always plays music – now he’s playing Song of Freedom, a reggae tune by the eminent Bob Marley. Even English-speaking listeners can relate and slowly learn their Hebrew this way.
A fourth voice – also female – has been breaking in to warn listeners whenever a Color Red rocket alert siren is activated in the various regions around the country. She always repeats the announcement twice, and never hesitates to interrupt his broadcast no matter what is happening -- even if there’s a newscast.
Yesterday Benny took calls from little kids and praised them for finding creative ways to cope with their enforced imprisonment at home, when instead they wanted to be playing at camp outside or at a park. And he took calls from adults and seniors, coaxing them to hum a few bars of the national anthem, HaTikvah – ‘The Hope’ – with him on the air. Several began to weep, the stress and rage and despair finally breaking through their bravado; his goal had been to relieve that, of course, and he wished each one well, with deep compassion, kindness and fellowship flowing through his voice.
It is for this that radio was created, and in such circumstances little can replace it.
In radio, it is crucial to know how to use one’s voice to its fullest potential if one is to convey a message accurately – let alone, to do it effectively. Understanding and learning how to do that ultimately becomes an art form.
Benny Bashan is one of the artists of ‘Tzuk Eitan’ – Operation Protective Edge – Israel’s military operation in the current conflict.