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volume 12
april 2009

Reminiscing the final year


  Remembering the Voice of Peace (32)
by Nathan Morley
  Since 1969 hundreds of people have worked for Abie Nathan in his fight for peace — most of them on board the radio ship MV Peace anchored off of the Israeli coast. None of them, though, shared his name — at least until what would prove to be the station's final year. Then Nathan Morley arrived whose first name corresponded with Abie's last name. Nowadays working and living on Cyprus, he wrote down his memories of these days.
1 Left: Captain Aaldijk, Abie Nathan and some deejays

Days of carefree fun. I was reminded recently by Eytan Harris's beautiful film As the Sun Sets (2005) how much I missed being on the Voice of Peace. It's always easy to look back at long distant events through rose-coloured spectacles, but seeing this movie really brought back those incredible days of carefree fun on board that lovable old rust bucket that was the MV Peace.

I was so fortunate to be part of this station, primarily because as a 19-year-old presenter, I was desperate to cut my teeth in radio. I think that I knew the project was always in danger and by the early winter of 1993 there was no illusion on board that we could continue playing records forever. I suppose that's why we made the most of the time afforded to us. I have so many wonderful memories about my time on board. From the day I arrived, I was told to host the programmes "Twilight Time" and "Late Night Affair," which I presented from March 1993 until the very last day. The last day consisted of us playing Beatles records until we were bored stiff, I did a live link with WNBC in New York who were "covering the closure" and they relayed part of the show.

  In brief, my memories consist of Abie on the Motorola — our name for the two-way link from the ship to the office in Frug Street, Tel Aviv. He always remembered my name — which was not hard! Sometimes when he was restless, he would call the ship in the early hours for a chat. It was during these late night conversations that I realized how lonely he was. I met Abie several years later at his apartment in Tel Aviv when I was a host on Israeli local radio in Raanana. We had dinner together and he confided to me that sinking the ship was, "the greatest mistake of his life." The very same night a politician — unknown to me — dropped in for a drink. Years later his face is never off the TV. I was always astounded by the company Abie kept!
2 Right: Matthew French and Nathan Morley (2005)

Getting to know people. But, in a nutshell my strongest memories consist of the following things: Radha Krishna, the cook, a great bloke and true gentleman who I admire greatly. Radha was one of those rare breed of men who consisted of all of the characteristics of a superman; he was warm, witty, gentle, friendly and always ready to help. I also vividly recall watching the news in the galley from the IBA in English and falling in love with Carline Ben Nathan (the anchor), endless nights watching James Bond films — as that's all we had in the video collection, along with a large selection of gay porn. Next, all the DJ's in the production studios chatting the night away listening to archive copies of "Casey Kasems AT40," Richard Harris's wonderful version of "McArthur Park" — a full six-minutes record: you could dash up the stairs, through the galley and down to the toilet and return to make coffee and the record was still playing — and the fantastic gramophone library with its foil air-conditioning strip — we all signed our names into it.

  The lovely Kenny Page was the controller during that last year, after the Voice of Peace and fate played a funny hand and I hired him to work at Radio Napa in Cyprus, along with my long time friend Bill Sheldrake. We also worked with Matthew French, the man who pulled the plug when the MV Peace sank, here in Cyprus — so the early days of Radio Napa were like a VOP reunion. I could not have worked with a better bunch of guys: all true professionals, all great friends. I still speak with most of these guys every week, which really shows how that little tug did forge great relationships. I am also amazed at how many other broadcasters of the years I have got to know because of our Voice of Peace links. I remember Howard Hughes at LBC telling some great stories about his stint on board, Digby Taylor at BFBS, Doug Wood at Signal Radio and so many others had spent time at this remarkable station.
  Fortunately for us technology has now allowed us to preserve those endearing memories for a life time and as I surf the internet I can see — and hear — that our little world on board that ship was being enjoyed by millions of radio listeners across the region. Being a Voice of Peace presenter was an experience and honour that I will never forget."
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