NEW YORK (May. 14)
To the wistful theme of that fabled rooftop fiddler, the “Tradition Time” weekly radio program of Jewish music, comedy and news debuted this month on 21 stations across the country.
The two-hour syndicated program is the first nationwide venture of the new American Jewish Radio Network based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is the first national Jewish entertainment radio show.
Producer and host Ben Zohar is hoping the millions of potential Jewish listeners like “Tradition Time” as well as the South Florida Jewish listenership does. He said the show began locally 18 months ago at station WVCG-AM in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at an hour per week, and has increased to 13 hours, with about half of them taped in advance.
The national show of predominantly music is completely pre-recorded, Zohar explained, because he aspires to perfect production. He added that he takes care to construct a program “appealing to the mass market of Jews. It has to be intergenerational. Jewish music tends to be that way.”
NO PARTICULAR BRANCH
While promoting no particular branch of Judaism, the show is unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-Yiddishkeit. “We instill certain Jewish values in the show,” Zohar told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “There are certain universalities: If someone came up to you and said, ‘You dirty Jew,’ you’d blow his face off with a bazooka.”
Before buying the slot for “Tradition Time” at WVCG, Zohar had never even entered a radio station. He was in clock manufacturing at the time, he said, having graduated with a marketing degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He declined to give his age, but looks and sounds to be in his 20s.
The self-described marketer said the idea for “Tradition Time” occurred while listening to a Spanish-language program. “That morning it slapped me in the face that there are two tremendous ethnic markets in Florida, the Jewish and Hispanic,” he recalled.
HE MOVED QUICKLY
He got his live hour of Jewish programming on WVCG, and sold all his commercial time in three weeks, he said. He bought the second and third hours, he recalled, “and the same thing happened.”
Soon his avocation became his vocation. He returned from a wedding trip in Israel to find a station executive eager to sell him 10 more hours per week. Zohar bought them, opened an office, staff and sold his clock business. His wife Tammy is the show’s program director, and he said they work 100-hour weeks and employ a staff of eight.
The assortment of stations at which he has bought two hours on Sunday includes WKOX-AM in Framingham, Mass., near Boston, a news-talk station; WEVD-FM in New York, a Jewish-oriented station; and KJAA-AM in Phoenix, which plays Country and Western hits.
Zohar claimed on the show to be in “every major Jewish city from coast to coast,” and while he’s in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, south Florida and Washington, D.C., he does not have outlets in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Montreal, San Francisco or Toronto.
Zohar hopes in the next 18 months to expand the network to 100 stations, including Canada.