Before the Broadcasting

Notable Emissions from Jerusalem
From a Staff Correspondent, Palestine Post, March 30, 1936

The inauguration of the Palestine Broadcasting Service serves as a reminder of the series of celebrated events which have been sent out over the ether for entertainment and enlightenment of countries abroad from this country, before Palestine began to broadcast.

Paramount in interest are the annual Christmas broadcasts of the chimes of the Nativity Monastery at Bethlehem over 3,000 miles to London whence they are relayed to all parts of the British Empire, in addition to other countries.

The files of the Palestine Post tell us that on December 25, 1933, and on the same day in 1934 and 1935 special programmes for the Christmas Eve holiday were composed of items relayed from Bethlehem, Winchester, London and New York by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the National Broadcasting Company of America.

A chapter in wireless history was written when in 1934 the Bethlehem chimes were sent out from the Nativity belfry. Here as brown-robed monks directed five bell-ringers at their task, a million times amplified over the "Go" circuit to Cairo and London.

"Listening through ear-phones wrote a Palestine Post staff correspondent, "I heard from London the voices of a choir singing carols. Then, a few seconds later, the sound of of the Bethlehem bells came rolling back over the 'Return' circuit, and the voice of an announcer said, 'Our listeners throughout the British Commonwealth are just hearing the bells of Bethlehem.'"

Eastertide Broadcast from Christ Church

The bells of Christ Church, Jerusalem, were heard in London on April 21, 1935, preluding a wireless address on Eastertide in the Holy City by the Rev. M. L. Maxwell, who described the Easter scenes in the city and the three religious festivals. This time the BBC linked up with the Columbia Broadcasting Company of America.

"To understand Easter in Jerusalem, one must remember the cosmopolitan character of the city where East meets West," said Mr. Maxwell. "Here the three great monotheistic religions are represented by devotees from nearly every country in the world."

Last Christmas was marked by the now famous broadcast by Mr. Ely Palmer, the then American Consul General in Jerusalem, who began the holiday programme of the National Broadcasting Company in Radio City, New York. Mrs. Palmer, seated at her receiving set in Jerusalem, heard her husband's voice from KDKA, in Pittsburgh, at the same moment that the Consul General spoke less than ten miles away from Jerusalem.

Another famous broadcast took place on May 24, 1934, when Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, the then Colonial Secretary, addressed about 300 guests of the Committee of British Exhibitors at a reception in the Galina Cafe, at the Levant Fair.

Broadcasting is not precisely novel for Palestine. In December 1933, two programmes were broadcast from Tel Aviv's radio station on wave of 977 kilocycles in a series of trial transmissions.

It was reported from radio listeners in Tel Aviv and the colonies in the Sharon and Judea Districts that reception of both programmes was fairly strong and clear except for a few minor disturbances from code messages sent by a nearby steamship.

In March, 1935, radio transmission from Tel Aviv Station was renewed after a short stoppage. The programme included "Madam Butterfly" and "One Thousand and One Nights" by Rimsky Korsakov.

In May, 1935, the Tel Aviv Station transmitted the recording of the Ninth (choral) Symphony of Beethoven played by Felix Weingarten and the London Symphony Orchestra. The Station operated on a wave length of 668 Kilocycles.

Dr. J. L. Magnes, President of the Hebrew University, addressed by radiotelephone, 4.30 am local time, an American audience who celebrated (in April 1935) the tenth anniversary of the University. Sir Herbert Samuel and Mr. James de Rothschild, MP, spoke from London at 2.40 am GMT. The addresses were circuited back to Jerusalem. Advice from New York was to the effect that the reception had been excellent. The corner-stone laying ceremony of the Hadassah University Hospital was also broadcast to America.

Of unforgettable interest is the first radiotelephone call between Jerusalem and Sydney, Australia, fifteen thousand miles distant, which took place during Easter, 1935.

Representatives of the Anglican Bishop of the Latin Patriarch, of the Greek Patriarch, and Mr. G. Agronsky, were heard with unusual clarity in the offices of "The Sunday Sun," Sydney.

Canon Herbert Danby, speaking for Dr. Graham Brown, read a message recalling the splendid part played by the Australian troops during the British Occupation of Palestine, and expressing gratitude for the material, and spiritual help given to the Church here by the Anglican Church in Sydney, especially by Dr. Wright, late Archbishop there.

There was an exotic note when a voice from Sydney inquired in Greek whether the representative of the Orthodox Patriarch was present.

Then Mr. George Said, representing the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, gave a message, blessings and Easter greetings from the locum tenens of the Patriarchate here. The Palestine Post had been asked by the Sydney "Sun" to organize the programme here, and the first conversation between Jerusalem and Sydney is now radiotelephone history.