Throughout the history of the country,
radio has been the conveyor of important information
at critical moments. Virtually the whole population
was glued to radio sets at events such as the news of
the United Nations vote on the partition of Palestine in 1947. In times of national emergency
radio was, and still is, used to call up troops. In
the pre-state period, all sides in the conflict used
radio to disseminate information, deliberate mis-information
and propaganda. The Jews effectively used clandestine
radio, and today though pirate radio is against the
law some people still retain a sentimental feeling towards
a medium that was so important in the formation of the
With radio so prominent in the collective memory it
has a special place in people's affections as so often
it was used in order to follow important events affecting
their lives, and still when the hourly news comes on
the radio people stop whatever they are doing whether
in shops, on buses (all fitted with radios) or in the
street. Before TV and a multiplicity of radio stations
came along, at night in any town or city street the
voice of the Kol Israel radio news announcer could be
heard emanating from every window around.
It was in about 1930 that radio antennas
could first be seen on homes in Palestine and sets went
on sale in city stores. At first the only stations to
be heard were distant ones, by short-wave from Europe
such as Radio Paris and BBC Empire Service, and medium
wave from Cairo. Then in 1932 with 675 licensed sets
local radio came to the country and here is a brief
chronology of its radio history.
1932 April 7. At the Levant Fair in
Tel Aviv the very first radio station goes on-air operated
by Mendel Abramovitch under a special license from the British Mandatory
Government. It went on air with a speech by Abramovitch
and remarks from Tel Aviv Mayor Meir Dizengoff including
an expression of hope that the station would be expanded
to reach a worldwide Jewish audience. The station that
came to be known as 'Radio Tel Aviv' broadcasts for
several periods and finally closes in April 1935.
1936 March 30. The Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS)
is inaugurated by British Mandatory Authority from Ramallah
with studios and one transmitter on 668 kc/s (kHz) 449
meters with a power of 20 kW. Staff are recruited for
daily broadcasts in English, Arabic and Hebrew and training
given by the BBC. The station is born at a time of great
tension between Arabs and Jews that within weeks erupts
into violence. The Hebrew name of the station is eventually
agreed to be 'Kol Yerushalyim' (The Voice of Jerusalem)
after argument rages with Arab leaders when the Jews
originally want to call it 'Kol Eretz Israel' (The Voice
of the Land of Israel).
1938 Publication of new magazine Radio News in Hebrew
and English to regularly list the various programs receivable
in Palestine. Senior PBS employee tells Radio News that
he would like to start a television service in Palestine.
The first clandestine radio station opens which is
operated by an underground Jewish group. Each of the
main groups eventually operate stations but most activity
is after the Second World War. A history of Jewish underground
radio stations by broadcasting historian Professor Douglas
1939 July. Opening of New Broadcasting Building in
Jerusalem for the Palestine Broadcasting Service at
Queen Melisande's Street (now known as Queen Helene
Street) and this is still the home of Kol Israel.
1939 August 2. The Etzel Jewish Underground sabotages the PBS in Jerusalem and two staff members are killed but broadcasting quickly
resumes temporarily from the original studio in Ramallah.
1940 March 13. The Haganah Jewish Underground opens its clandestine radio station
that is called Kol Israel (the Voice of Israel) on 42
meters (about 7000 kHz). Within a short time the Haganah
decides to reserve this title for the when a state is
established and the station is renamed. It ceases in
June when there is a danger of invasion by Axis forces
in the Eastern Mediterranean. Poster advertizing start
of Kol Israel.
1942 The PBS opens a second channel (PBS2) on 574 kHz
(522 meters at 20 kW) and the first channel PBS 1 is
moved slightly to 677 kHz (443 meters) which allows
it to be heard better in Europe as no other station
is on the wavelength.
1943 The British Army opens the first Palestine station
of the Middle East section of the Forces Broadcasting
Service (FBS) with call sign JCPA on 316 meters. The
studios are on Mount Zion at the Hospice of St. Pierre
en Gallicantu and the transmitter is at Beit Jala. The
station later moves to 216 meters (1391 kHz) and a second
station JCKW opens on shortwave 41.55 meters (7220 kHz)
with additional programs for troops from India.
Further FBS transmitters open later
in the war at Haifa,
Sarafan base at Ramla (near Tel Aviv), and at RAF Gaza
and RAF Qastina. 1946 British Forces station schedule
Also based in Jerusalem is Sharq al
Adna an Arabic language station. This station ceases
transmission at the end of the British
Mandate and moves to Cyprus from where it operates
until the Suez Crisis of 1956 when it is closed down
by the British authorities and the transmitters are
taken over by the BBC as the East Mediterranean Relay
Station which still operates today.
1945 October 4. The Haganah clandestine station (Kol Ha-Hagana) resumes transmission
as conflict between Jews and the British intensifies
in post-war Palestine. Radio takes on a crucial role
as many more Jewish underground stations start to broadcast
1946 February 18. The British Army
traces the Lehi group's secret station and arrests the operators including
announcer Ge'ula Cohen who later has a long career as
a politician. PBS program schedule of 1946.
A variety of radio sets are on the market including
models manufactured in Palestine.
1947 The PBS prepares to close down as the date for
British withdrawal nears. A statement by a PBS employee
in late 1947.
1948 May 14. Israeli
independence is proclaimed and Kol Israel (The Voice
of Israel) starts broadcasting using the staff and facilities
of both the PBS and the former clandestine Haganah stations. Kol Israel becomes a government department
first under the Ministry of the Interior, the Office
of Posts and Telegraphs and subsequently under the Prime
Minister's Office. Publication of November 1948 showing
both former PBS and Haganah transmitting stations in use.
In the war between Israel and the
Arab armies, Ramallah, where the PBS transmitting station
is located, becomes part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It
broadcasts the Jordanian radio service on 677 kHz until
the Six Day War in June 1967.
1949 Kol Israel service quickly develops as shown by
publication of October 1949. Israel is one of the first
countries to pioneer the use of FM (VHF) transmission;
at first simply to distribute audio from studios to
medium wave stations.
October 30. BBC in London starts daily shortwave broadcasts
to Israel. The Hebrew Service supplies a great deal
of talent to Israeli broadcasting until it closes on
October 27, 1968. Inaugural program. Final Program.
1950 March 11. Broadcasts specifically
targeted at overseas audiences are started as "Kol
Zion La Golah" (The Voice of Zion to the Diaspora")
and are operated from Kol Israel facilities by the World
Zionist Organisation (in collaboration with the
Jewish Agency). Kol Zion is integrated into Kol Israel
in 1958 and the title dropped. Kol Israel schedule from
September 24. An Israel
Defense Forces (IDF) station opens named Galei Zahal
and is the first competition for Kol Israel. Program
for soldiers previously aired on Kol Israel are transferred
to the new station.
1951 The overall organization operating Kol Israel
becomes known as The Israel Broadcasting Service.
1952 A second channel starts on 652 kHz and is named
Reshet Bet (Second Network) and the other transmitters
are called Reshet Alef (First Network). A program schedule
from the time. The overseas short-wave channel comes
to be referred to in-house as Reshet Gimel.
1953 First high power shortwave transmitter of 50 kilowatts
is purchased from RCA for Kol Zion Lagolah and enters
service in 1955 - 1953 schedule.
1957 Programs are started for the United Nations Emergency
Force in Sinai daily from 1600-1700 in Swedish, French,
and English on Channel B (Reshet Bet). 1957 Publication
April 27. Israel's most popular radio program of all
time 'Three Men in a Boat' achieves its highest audience.
1958 Arabic network starts operation known as 'Sout
el Israyl', Channel D (Reshet Dalet) on 737 kHz with
100 kW of power.
1963 March 2. Knesset votes to allow the start of Educational
Television and on August 8 agreement is reached with
CBS in the USA for them to assist in the building of
general Israel TV.
1965 June 6. The Broadcasting Authority
Law is passed by Israel's Parliament (The
Knesset) which creates the Israel Broadcasting Authority
(IBA) as an independent public body. In 1968 the law
is amended to include television transmission. Overseas
broadcasts of Kol Israel are secured under a legal provision
that there must be programming beamed abroad to Jews
1967 June. During the Six
Day War the Ramallah radio station that was originally
the PBS is captured by Israel and henceforth transmits
IBA Arabic network Reshet Dalet on 677 kHz (674 kHz
from 1975, and 675 kHz from November 1978) using the
1942 20 kW Marconi transmitter that is still operational.
The original1936 transmitter had been removed and scrapped
by the Jordanians prior to 1967 and a new 100 kW Telefunken
transmitter donated by the Federal German Republic was
in the process of being installed when the war started.
1968 May 2. Israel Television is inaugurated by the
IBA on Independence Day with the televising of a parade
through the streets of Jerusalem. Radio now has a rival
medium. In fact TV sets went on the market in around
1960 when signals from Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt could
be picked up. Israel Education TV was technically the
first station in the country as it started transmissions
on March 24, 1966, and its transmission was later incorporated
into the daytime schedules of Israel Television. Much
argument rages over whether there should be TV on Friday
evening (the Eve of the Sabbath) and the IBA defies
the wishes of the Government and broadcasts after an
intervention by the High Court.
1969 The shortwave facilities of Kol Israel are greatly
upgraded by the purchase of four 300 kilowatt transmitters
and several antennas directed at different parts of
1972 July 26. Israel is connected to the world by satellite
for TV and radio broadcasts by the opening of the Emek
Ha'ela Telecommunications station.
1973 May 18. Offshore pirate radio station the Voice
of Peace is opened by peace campaigner Abie Nathan and
achieves enormous popularity.
With the growth of television the IBA wishes to stress
the cohesiveness of the organization and the name Kol
Israel is dropped in favor of Shidurei Yisrael (Israel
1976 June. New pop music network Reshet Gimel (Third
Network) starts operation on medium wave 531 kHz and
FM stations are added some years later. In common with
Reshet Bet it carries advertizing. The overseas channel,
which had been the 'third network', is henceforth referred
to in-house as Reshet Hei (the fifth network).
1979 May. The title Kol Israel is re-introduced for
the IBA radio services.
1981 January 13, Israel TV officially starts transmission
in color. Some imported programs had previously been
in color and the public bought sets but the Government
believed this consumer spending gave unwanted stimulation
to the sensitive economy and ordered the IBA to suppress
the color signal. Enterprising individuals then developed
a device to recover the suppressed color signal and
the Government, fearing great unpopularity, eventually
gave in but heavily taxed the sets.
1983 The FM transmitter network formerly of Reshet
Alef is used to form a new stereo classical music and
cultural network known as Kol Ha Musica (the Voice of
1985 September 29. Bill to create the Second TV channel
gets preliminary approval in the Knesset and an Act
is passed on January 1, 1990 with the service starting
on November 11, 1993.
1986 July 29. Cable TV Act is passed after illegal
operators had been active for some years. At a ceremony
on February 2, 1990 some residents of Rishon Lezion
are the first to receive TV (and radio) programming
1987 April 10. Agreement is reached for Voice of America
to build a powerful shortwave station in the Arava valley.
However there are environmental and other problems and
the station is never built.
October 7. IBA journalists and producers go on strike
and TV and radio closes for two months.
1993 October 1. Voice of Peace station
closes down - Abie
Nathan says 'The Goal has been achieved.'
1994 May. Under the agreement giving autonomy to the Palestinians they are able to
operate broadcasting stations. The initial areas are
Gaza and Jericho but as it is not feasible to build
a high power station capable of reaching the entire
area they are permitted to operate from the Ramallah
site ahead of its handover. The Palestinian Broadcasting
Corporation (PBC) operating as Voice of Palestine is
inaugurated from the station and in December 1995 Ramallah
comes fully within the jurisdiction of the Palestinian
Authority. The Israel Ministry of Communications
initially moves the transmitter's frequency to 702 kHz
- which is also being used by 'Al Kuds' a station beaming
to Palestinians from Syria.
The two stations interfere with each other very badly
and after a short time PBC is given permission to move
back to 675 kHz.
1995 September. Commercial local radio begins under
the regulatory control of the Second Channel and Local
1996 May 18. Israel's Amos 1 satellite is launched
and transmits domestic TV and radio.