Janis Raisen

Janis Raisen – Radio Installation, Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem, Creates Intrigue

Interactive radio exhibit on Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem. (Photo: Janis Raisen)

Janis Raisen – Radio Installation, Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem, Creates Intrigue

History, nostalgia, and art have all come to Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem. A giant interactive vintage radio—based on Panasonic’s design from the 1970s—stands tall and proud, four meters wide and almost three meters high. The purpose is to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, to honor public broadcasting, and to enhance public space with interactive art. It evokes smiles, curiosity, and compels people to turn the dials.

City Peloton Studio’s Ilan and Anat Behrman (architect and artist respectively), combined their talents to produce the solar-powered radio art installation, Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem. It was placed on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem in early July and will remain there until the middle of October. The idea was implemented after the studio received a generous grant from Eden, the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA). The JDA’s initiative to develop the city center through interactive projects caught the attention of the dynamic duo.

The couple wanted to develop a unique, interactive idea that revolved around radio, yet would also mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. It also allowed Ilan Behrman to merge his love of radio with his architecture background.

“I was a radio announcer for Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) when I was in the army 20 years ago, which is when I first fell in love with radio,” he explained.

The interactive radio, has five stations, four of them play music exclusively: classical, contemporary pop/rock, Israeli nostalgia, and Mizrachi (Mediterranean). “We thought about building a big radio, but we didn’t just want to place a statue of a giant radio. We wanted it to work so that people could enjoy, and experience the radio. I think that people hardly do that today; radio is like a dinosaur,” he explained.

The fifth station broadcasts reports from 1967, before and during the Six-Day War. As the war coverage blares through the speakers of the large vintage radio people stop in their tracks as they come within earshot of the broadcast. They then wander over to the radio to discover the dynamic art installation.

“We thought it would be nice to have a few music stations and one station would have the sounds of 1967. We knew what the city was looking for different ways to honor the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and we thought it would be so nice to have a vintage radio broadcasting newscasts from 1967, from before the war and during the war,” said Behrman. “When you hear it from a large vintage radio in the middle of the street, and you hear reports and bombings and the sirens, it sounds so real,” he added.

The Israel Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) provided all of the music, all of the content, according to Behrman. They were an integral part of the project and were happy to contribute.

“It is a great pleasure to be part of this project in Jerusalem. It is important for us to reach our listeners in new ways, and offering direct access to radio on the street is one option,” said Aviad Rosenbaum, head music editor, IBC.

The title of the installation Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem is significant and nostalgic. Kol Yisrael aired its first broadcast just in time for the Declaration of Israel’s Independence, after changing its name from Kol Jerusalem, when it first launched in 1936. Kol Yisrael, operated under the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), and was replaced on May 15, 2017, by Kan, under the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation (IBC).

“Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem” signage and hours of operation are displayed on the side of the radio. Hours: Sunday- Thursday: 10:00-22:00, Friday: 10:00-the start of Shabbat, Saturday: end of Shabbat-22:00 (Photo: Janis Raisen)

The strong nostalgia surrounding Kol Yisrael inspired IBC to keep the “Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem” phrase and a modernized version of the six beeps that people were used to hearing at the beginning of the newscasts on Kol Yisrael’s flagship station. This deep, historical connection to Israel radio also had an impact on the Behrman couple.

“We thought that the right name for a giant radio in the middle of Jerusalem was Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem. We had no doubt about it. We thought that it would be a nice gesture; it’s a nice way to provide a radio for public use,” Behrman said.

Their creativity has received a lot of positive attention. Many shopkeepers on Ben Yehuda Street said they enjoy the music, the sense of nostalgia and the lively vibe it provides. Tourists and locals that approach the radio all react differently. Some stop in their tracks to look and listen, while others stroll over to the radio with curiosity and initiate a conversation with other onlookers.The majority tend to shuffle through the stations, and then of course pose for photos or selfies.

Eyal, Tina and Noam gathered in front of the radio to admire it and explore the channels. “I think it adds to the city because there are a lot of tourists coming to Israel in the summer. I think it fits the city,” Eyal said. Tina, a tourist from Germany said: “It’s a really great idea because you can use it, you can really work with it and try it. I think that’s really great.” Noam added: “It’s really interesting. It gives an artistic dimension and not just entertainment.”

Three generations, a grandmother, mother and daughter also stopped to listen to the radio and enjoy a special bonding moment.

Three generations bond in front of the radio. (L to R): Yoela (mother), Lhian (daughter, age 9), Betsy (grandmother) (Photo: Janis Raisen)

The grandmother, Betsy, an Olah from Holland, said: “It reminds me of my childhood before the days of television, and to think about it is wonderful.” She added that the idea of the interactive radio is amazing, and noticed that children love playing with the dials. Yoela, Betsy’s daughter, stood smiling and said: “It’s wonderful. It provides history, nostalgia.” Nine-year-old Lhian cheerfully explored the radio stations, then stood proudly by her mother and grandmother. “It’s interesting to learn about the history of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents,” she said. Jerusalem is the perfect place to bring innovative ideas to such a vibrant and special city. Ilan and Anat Behrman will continue to do just that.

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