Ram-Fm trasmette su 93,6 e 87,7 e può essere ascoltata in streaming Web.
Radio station's cause higher than cash – Mideast peace
December 17, 2007 Oakland Ross - Middle East Bureau
JERUSALEM–Take a South African media magnate, an intractable Middle Eastern conflict, a play list of mostly American pop songs, at least $2 million in start-up capital, plus 23 workers from diverse ethnic and national backgrounds.
Bind them together in a knot of good intentions and you get ...? Well, in Israel and the Palestinian territories, you get about 80 per cent music, 20 per cent talk, and, maybe, just maybe, a step closer to concord in what must be among the most fractious regions of the globe.
Or "The All New 93.6 RAM-FM," the only Palestinian-licensed, English-language radio station in the Holy Land, a broadcasting venture that might not make much money, not yet anyway, but it's dedicated to a higher cause than cash. That cause is peace.
Except that on-air staffers don't call it that. In the Middle East, even the word "peace" can start a fight. The word is associated by many Israelis with Palestinian sympathizers who blame the Jewish state for most of the region's troubles.
"People perceived us to be partisan because we used the word `peace,'" explains news director Andrew Bolton, 40, formerly of Johannesburg, South Africa. "We took the word `peace' out, because that's perceived to be political."
Accustomed to careful handling of sometimes explosive verbiage, news readers and DJs at RAM-FM use a less controversial coinage – "harmony" is what they say – when they talk about hopes for better relations between Israelis and Palestinians.
That prospect is something they talk about a lot, because Living in Harmony, the station's new slogan, constitutes the main reason RAM-FM went on air this past February, broadcasting from its studio in the West Bank capital of Ramallah and spreading its message of pop music, lively talk, and better understanding across the length and breadth of a region that has long seethed in a state of undeclared war.
"The unique product of this station is the news," says station manager Maysoun Gangat, 42, a Palestinian who grew up in Jerusalem and now lives in Ramallah. "Israelis for the first time have news from the Palestinian side. For the Palestinians, it's good to know what's happening on the Israeli side."
To ensure both sides get balanced coverage, the station now maintains two studios: the original operation in Ramallah and a newer set-up on the 11th floor of the Tower Building in West Jerusalem. The station claims 120,000 listeners in the Palestinian territories and 380,000 in Israel. It is also available in streaming audio on the Internet at www.ramfm.net.
A tall, stylish woman, Gangat divides her time between the two offices, while the seven-member news department, "Middle East Eye-Witness News," maintains three full-time staff in each city, plus another reporter in the Gaza Strip, and a network of freelance correspondents in neighbouring capitals.
The result is a single news source for Israelis and Palestinians in English, a more or less neutral tongue. That might not seem like an earth-shaking innovation, but this is the Holy Land, where two conflicting peoples dwell on opposite sides of a nearly impregnable information barrier. RAM-FM aims to change that.
"I've received complaints we're pro-Israeli," says Bolton, one of several South African staff. "I've received complaints from the other side that we're pro-Palestinian. That leaves me in a comfortable place."
The station's South African connection is unmistakable – checkout morning-man John Berks's plummy tones – and no accident.
RAM-FM's founder and patron is Issie Kirsh, a South African entrepreneur who was among the prime movers behind a now legendary African venture called, Radio 702, a Johannesburg AM outlet that began playing top-40 hits in 1980 and gradually evolved into a sort of on-air clearing house for news and debate during the latter years of apartheid – a single venue where blacks and whites could both speak out and be heard.
Kirsh and others hope RAM-FM can do for the Holy Land what Radio 702 did for South Africa, using words and music to ease the way to, you'll pardon the expression, peace.
"That's what 702 did, lessening that gulf of fear and mistrust," says Bolton. "Each situation is unique, but there are parallels. Israelis and Palestinians also have enormous mistrust of each other."
Along with regular newscasts, RAM-FM airs a daily public-affairs show. Gangat says the liveliest response so far to a recent Talk at Ten segment was on the future of Jerusalem; both sides want it as their capital. "It's the most complicated issue. It's what touches the heart."