On Sunday, 24 September, 1950 a trumpet blast erupted from the radio at precisely 6:30 p.m., followed by “HaTikva”, Israel’s national anthem. Thus began the very first broadcast of Galei Zahal, the IDF Broadcasting Service. The improvised studio was located inside a former school building in Ramat Gan. Army blankets were hung along the walls in an attempt to muffle background noise.
Galei Zahal was born in the State of Israel, which, at that time, was dealing with the absorption of waves of immigrants and contending with distress and poverty. For many years Galei Zahal broadcasts were mainly geared toward soldiers, including music programs bearing soldiers’ greetings and various broadcasts related to the IDF. The station was unique in that it incorporated soldiers serving in the regular army into journalistic positions, including reporters, editors, producers, news broadcasters, music broadcasters, musical editors, announcers, etc.
Following the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the station began broadcasting 24 hours a day, expanding its broadcasts to include all citizens by adding news broadcasts and current affairs programming. For years, it was the only Israeli station that continued to broadcast throughout the night, to be joined later by “Kol Israel” Broadcasting.
Suggestions have been raised on more than one occasion stating that the station should be closed and its broadcasts ceased, but due to protests by the public, the Knesset and the Israel Broadcasting Authority Governing Council, none of these proposals has even come to fruition.
In November 1993 Galei Zahal began operating another station, establishing Galgalaz, which broadcasts music interspersed with traffic reports and has extremely high listener rates.
Galei Zahal’s various programs are currently presented by leading broadcasters, who are among the most highly esteemed journalists in Israel, alongside young, talented and energetic reporters, producers and editors. This combination makes Galei Zahal a relevant, young and characteristically Israeli media outlet.
Thanks to a widespread array of transmitters located throughout the entire country, as well as through the internet, the station’s broadcasts reach IDF bases and private homes throughout Israel and abroad, making it a central component of Israeli media in general and of public broadcasting in particular.