Yiddish Radio

Yiddish radio in Melbourne began with Ethnic Community Radio 3ZZ in 1975 and soon after transferred to 3EA which became SBS Radio in the late 1980s.  The main Melbourne presenters over the years have included:  Pinye Ringelblum, Yasha Sher, Abraham Cykiert, Danielle Charak, Alex Dafner, Mira Zylberman, Chana Mrocki, Reene Zufi, Michael Zylberman, and Bobbi Zylberman.

The 3ZZ became 3ZZZ-FM, led by writer Moishe Ajzenbud and later Michael and Bobbi Zylberman.  The early audiences were the enthusiastic Yiddish speakers of the post Holocaust migration and some of their children, who had grown up in Australia and attended the I.L. Peretz and Sholem Aleichem schools.  On 3EA-SBS radio there were four programs each week, of an hour’s duration each.  These included a kindergarten program on Wednesdays and a youth program on Mondays.

In 2010, SBS broadcasts twice each week for an hour.  Although the decline in Yiddish speakers has meant a diminished local audience, there is a small solid core of mainly elderly and second generation listeners, while some access it from here and overseas via the Web.  The 2006 census identified approximately 2277 Victorians who speak Yiddish in their homes.  These people are the potential audience for Yiddish radio.

The focus of programming has changed through the decades.  Rather than the more traditional literary, liturgical, folksong and historical emphasis, and longer, read segments, the focus is now on news, current affairs and multi-voiced, pre-produced, local and international interviews.  There is an emphasis on world Jewry, Israel, the Middle East, and Australia, as well as entertaining segments such as comedy, theatre, film and music.  The Wednesday hour is given entirely in Yiddish, whereas the Sunday program includes a fifteen minute news bulletin presented in English, and three quarters of an hour in Yiddish.

The current Executive Producer and presenter Alex Dafner has been working with the Yiddish program at SBS Radio for thirty years.

Sources:  92.3 FM ZZZ:  Melbourne Ethnic Community Radio: Jewish show; SBS Audio and Language: Yiddish; conversations with Alex Dafner, June/July 2010.