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volume 9
july 2006

The fastest job interview I ever had


  Remembering the Voice of Peace (22)
by Steve Marshall
  One of the many deejays who had a wonderful time while working for Abie Nathan and his radio station The Voice of Peace is Steve Marshall. Though his stay on the MV Peace now dates back over a quarter of a century, his memories are still very clear.
1 Left: Production equipment

Learning about life. The thing I remember most about working on the Voice Of Peace, over a quarter of a century ago, was that I learnt about radio, and more importantly about life. Working on a radio ship, means that you have to learn to get on with a number of people, in an enclosed environment, living eating and breathing radio 24 hours a day. Anyone who has worked on offshore radio will tell you that the people they met have become lifelong friends. It's certainly true in my case!

Here's a brief synopsis of how the Peace experience worked for me. After spending my teenage years, working for Europe's first soul station, Radio Invicta in London, playing funky music for the masses. I needed to immerse myself in commercial radio, the early 80's there were two choices, either go and work for one of the small number of commercial radio stations, looking for people with experience, or work for another form of commercial radio, one with a big transmitter on a ship. I chose the latter; I sent a fairly average demo tape to the Voice of Peace offices in Tel Aviv, and three months later, still no reply. Being a plucky 19 year old, I wasn't going to take no for an answer, I still don't! So I called the offices, the phone was answered by Jackie Bennett, wife of the Chief Engineer, Bill Bennett.

  The first words from her lips were: "What is your passport name, and you will be flying out in three days time." I was the fastest job interview I ever had! Three days later, I found myself on an EL AL plane to Tel Aviv; we were met at the airport by Abie Nathan's on shore team, and driven to where the ship was berthed in the harbour of Ashdod. Israel is indeed the land of milk and honey, the place those sweet tasting Jaffa Oranges come from, but my first memory of Israel, was manure, as it was a hot summer, June to be precise. The farmers had been doing as we say in Ireland "ome muck spreading to make the crops grow better!"
  I and a guy from the North West of England, John Bennett, arrived at the MV Peace, after brief introductions and a pep talk from Chief Engineer, Bill Bennett, about fire drills, we went to bed. Around one in the morning, there came a loud knock at the cabin door, and Bill Bennett screaming that everyone in the lifejackets, the ships on fire. Of course we quickly realised that the ship was safe, and it was all a big joke, a kind of welcome ceremony. The next few months were on Paint cabin duty as we called it, Keith York, Tony Mandell, Nigel Roberts, and I spent everyday getting the rust off and repainting the ship, so that it would pass the Lloyds insurance man's ok.
2 Right: Steve Marshall in 2006

Complaints about the cook. Eventually, we set sail, to the Voice of Peace's traditional position, somewhere in the Mediterranean; in fact we were about 2.5 miles from Tel Aviv. The station was up and running, and I did a mid morning programme, and a disco programme every night from nine to twelve. I was doing what I always wanted to do, radio on a fulltime basis, I also did a lot of reading, Bill Bennett and I used to swap books when I came back from shore leave. When I was on shore, I stayed with Don Stevens, at his apartment in downtown Tel Aviv. A couple of months later we were joined by Crispian St John, Stevie Gordon, and Johnny Moss (Lewis), Ruven Salman, and a engineer we called the Telephone Man, who never stopped talking!

  As well as advertising well known products, such as TWA Airlines, the Voice of Peace fairly regularly advertised for a cook! They only tended to last around two weeks, some were good and some were awful. I remember we had a German cook on board, Mike, who for the first few days, made some lovely food, including salads. After a while, he got more interested in topping up his tan, so that we were eating stuff he had made a few days earlier, which went off in the heat of the Middle East.
  Cue some very sick disc jockeys, Chief Engineer, Bill Bennett, got the ship to shore to Abie, about our German cook; Abie replied that the cook would have to stay on for a few more days, as a tender wasn't due. Bill told Abie to send a tender out tonight, with a new cook, otherwise there will be no more advertising played, an hour later, the fishing boat, which acted as our tender, brought out a new cook! Happy disc jockeys once again!
  I learnt most of what I know in radio, from other people in the year I spent on the Voice of Peace. Much about music programming, sales, management, and what makes great radio! Much has been said about Abie over the years, but I found him a fair boss, totally dedicated to the cause of Peace, and well respected by many on all sides of the Middle Eastern conflict. What I learnt about radio, and life on the VOP, still moulds what I do today, as a Sales Manager and Programming consultant to a number of successful European Commercial Radio stations. Radio can be hard work, and tough at times, but it should also be fun!
  Look here for the index of this series
  2006 © Soundscapes