Live and Ready to Rock, Midwest NCSY Airs Program For Teens (and Parents) on Chicago Station 1430 AM
“Live from Chicago, it’s Sunday afternoon!”
If Don Pardo were the announcer, that’s the way he might describe the “Midwest NCSY Radio Hour,” which for the past two months has aired Sunday afternoons from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on 1430 AM WEEF, a 1,000-watt station heard throughout Chicagoland. A blend of Jewish music, interviews and call-ins, featuring a brief segment on the weekly Torah portion and even a report from Hollywood, the new program is steadily building an audience among teenagers who participate in the Orthodox Union’s famed NCSY youth program; their parents and friends; and those spinning the dial who happen to land on 1430.
And the show is live, just like its famed counterpart on Saturday night.
The program is the brainchild of a media savvy expert on Jewish outreach, Moshe Isenberg, Associate Regional Director of NCSY Midwest. The Region is based in Chicago but extends to Kansas and Nebraska in the West, to Indiana and Ohio in the East, and even into Winnipeg, Canada. The WEEF signal can’t be heard in those far-off places, of course, but by the next day the program is available on the Midwest NCSY website, www.midwestncsy.org, ready for downloading to i-pods and other electronic devices, to increase the audience for what Moshe calls “the best hour in radio.”
Moshe Isenberg experienced his inspiration to create the show after appearing several times as a guest on Rabbi Eliezer Dimarsky’s Russian language outreach program on WEEF’s sister station, 1330-AM, WKTA. Moshe responded to questions in English, which were then translated into Russian by the rabbi. All of a sudden, attendance by Russian-speaking teens jumped considerably at NCSY events.
With this in mind, and with the full backing of Midwest Region Director Rabbi Micha Greenland, Moshe took his idea to host an English language program to WEEF management. The station sold the time to NCSY for $150 a week, and the program was born.
The Region seeks sponsors for each program, either an individual, business or community organization; the sponsors are saluted during the course of the broadcast. (There are no commercials, of course.) The first eight shows were so successful that NCSY has renewed its agreement with the station, to extend for the foreseeable future.
“Moshe Isenberg is terrific,” declared Rabbi Greenland, who appears weekly on the program highlighting the Region’s work and upcoming events. “The target audience is the NCSY audience of teenagers, but their parents are part of the audience as well,” he explained. Another segment, Rabbi Greenland said, is membership of the Jewish Student Union Clubs, a companion program to NCSY in the public high schools.
Doing a live show requires an experienced broadcaster, one who has never met a microphone he didn’t like. Moshe Isenberg has had years of experience in front of an imaginary microphone, developing what he calls “the Mo Isenberg style of radio.” Blessed with a broadcast quality voice and the ability to seemingly talk about anything at all in an interesting fashion, Moshe trained by listening to his favorite talk show hosts, such as Sean Hannitty and Rush Limbaugh, either on Chicago radio stations or online. (His program, however, is completely apolitical.) “I feel I’ve always been a broadcast personality. I feel very comfortable doing the show. I love doing it.” Moshe said.
A native of Chicago, Moshe thoroughly understands the successes of and challenges facing the local Jewish community. Educated at Fasman Yeshiva High School in Skokie, he spent a year in Israel, then received his BA from Hebrew Theological College in Skokie and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago. He and his wife Devora live in West Rogers Park.
A typical hour of the program will feature music, with selections from such superstars as Matisyahu, The Moshav Band and Blue Fringe; of course, song requests are always encouraged. In addition, each show features studio guests, such as advisors assigned to the various NCSY chapters in the Midwest; Rabbi Greenland’s report; and calls from ten to 15 NCSYers. NCSY events always feature a d’var Torah, that is, an explanation of the weekly portion, and the NCSY Radio Hour is no exception. No long-winded rabbis on this program; the segment conducted by Rabbi Meir Wexler from Kansas City, KS, lasts no more than one minute.
Another segment features Chicagoan Yacov Freedman who works for Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles. His Hollywood report provides the latest gossip and answers questions from callers about job prospects in Hollywood and other topics of interest to teens.
Moshe starts planning his weekly program on Wednesday, after getting feedback sent to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org, about the previous Sunday’s broadcast. He never lacks for material. “The hour goes by way too quickly,” Moshe said. How does Moshe Isenberg intend to build his audience? “We tell them,” he declared, “We’re live and we’re ready to rock!”
Moshe Isenberg may be reached at email@example.com or 847-677-6279.