Rumble in the jungle
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Rumble in the jungle

THE plug may have been pulled on Lion FM, but some of those involved with Melbourne Jewish Radio (MJR) seem to think that they can still broadcast their views throughout the city

THE plug may have been pulled on Lion FM, but some of those involved with Melbourne Jewish Radio (MJR) seem to think that they can still broadcast their views throughout the city if they shout loudly enough. But voices weren’t the only things raised when a meeting was held last Thursday night to discuss the future of Jewish broadcasting after the station’s axing by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The atmosphere in Beth Weizmann became decidedly heated when the president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, John Searle, tried to physically force MJR’s vice-president, Menachem Khoen, back into his seat. Despite Searle, who was chairing the meeting, urging those in attendance to refrain from the recriminations of recent months, Khoen seemed determined to drag up the past. During a lengthy speech in which he called for an end to “the delegitimisation of Lion FM”, he claimed one of the station’s enemies had threatened an engineer who was supposed to be solving certain antenna problems.

At that point, Searle tried to cut him short, calling for “constructive discussion”, but his pleas fell on deaf ears as did his insistence that Khoen “sit down or leave the meeting”. When Khoen refused, Searle took matters – or rather Khoen – into his own hands, prompting a furious outburst from Khoen’s supporters.

For all the acrimony, all agreed the community should present a united front if the opportunity to obtain a licence returned. The only question was how that could be  achieved. Two solutions were put forward: unite behind Lion, which MJR executives insisted had learned from its past errors, or start from scratch.

“It doesn’t matter how we do it, we just have to do it,” said Searle. “We need to talk with one another not about one another.”

For his part, Khoen claimed he was currently involved in negotiations which within a month would hopefully allow him to announce a date when Lion would return to air. “Join Lion FM and we will work together to broadcast on behalf of the Jewish community,” he urged.

Aaron Zaitman, president of Jewish Community Radio Victoria seemed against the idea of resurrecting Lion, preferring to “clear the air” and begin with a “clean slate with all parties getting together and deciding what’s going to happen”.

Meanwhile, Dr Paul Gardner, interim chairman of Jewish Broadcasting for the Community (JBC), insisted his organistaion had  no interest in supplanting Lion and simply wished to ensure the various talents within the community worked together to get a Jewish radio station back on air.

JBC has convened a further meeting at 7.30pm this Sunday at Beth Weizmann for interested parties to once again come together and attempt to move forward.

Following the meeting, Khoen told The AJN: “We have been inundated with expressions of support from Israelis, Australians, Orthodox, Masorti and secular Jews  … We want to thank the community for the support, encouragement and strengthening messages we constantly receive.”

ZEDDY LAWRENCE

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