Violet Battat, A Tribute to My Mother
The Live Show on WPVM will commemorate the birthday of my mother, Violet Ruth Battat, my greatest radio inspiration.
I was at the studios of WPVM Radio Station in Asheville, NC and was honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to broadcast live. The program was a particularly special one to commemorate my lifelong source of radio inspiration, my mother, Violet Battat.
This was my first live program. For many years, I dreamt of the moment that I would flip on a switch, and be on the air live. The feeling was fantastic and the whole day was very emotional. Of course, nothing goes perfectly; I had some technical difficulties, being my own sound engineer and DJ. But ultimately, what matters most is the potent authenticity and sincerity that flows from my voice. And, of course, now I know what I can do better next time, too.
When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this
When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you want to live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this
When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this,
Van Morrison, Days Like This
But she did not tell me that I would broadcast live 22 years after her passing, on her birthday.
Violet Ruth Battat
My mom, Violet Ruth Battat, was a radio celebrity for many years on Israeli radio. She broadcast twice a week in Arabic, her program dedicated to women and family care. One show was called The Family Magazine, and focused on family health. Broadcast in Arabic, it quickly became one of the most popular shows in the Middle East. I remember going to the studios of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, the IBA, when I was 10 or 11 years old. My mom produced the weekly magazine. She wrote the scripts, conducted interviews, and then broadcast the programs live or recorded. Sometimes, she recorded 4 or 5 shows in a row so she could travel. The fact was, no one really knew if the show was live or recorded. Sometimes she spent 10-12 hours a day for 2 or 3 days in a row to complete the programs for several weeks in advance. YES! It was a lot of hard work. But hard work never deterred or scared my mother. She did it with passion and dedication. A song that she always loved that reminded her of traveling to new PLACES was Haim Moshe, an Israeli soul singer, the sounds of Piraeus.
My sister Efrat says that my mom struggled to ultimately find her position and her voice at the Israeli broadcasting authority. She had to start somewhere, and in her case, she began as an editor and quickly moved into broadcasting. Throughout her career and life she always maintained an incredibly positive attitude.
Born in Baghdad, Iraq she immigrated to Israel in the early 1950s. During the 1967 War she was broadcasting live to the Egyptian and Jordanian forces to discourage them from fighting against Israel. She was sort of Tokyo Rose, the famous Japanese propagandist, broadcasting during the 1945 war to demoralize American troops All along she was producing The Family Magazine – determined to give voice to women in general and Arab women specifically. Her mission was successful. Her weekly family and women’s magazine quickly became one of the most popular programs in the Middle East. I remember traveling with my mother to field interviews in the West Bank.
She was treated as a dignitary from out of state, and once I recall one family she visited put out a red carpet for her.
In the late sixties and early seventies, professional recording in radio stations were conducted utilizing real-to-reel tapes which were spinning at a minimum speed of 3 inches per second, and a maximum speed of seven inches per second. To edit a clip, the sound engineer actually had to figure out where to stop the tape, how long would need to be cut, and then literally pull the tape out of the machine and cut it with scissors, and then tape it with a special tape. In today’s digital age, it is much easier to produce and edit a program. We just cut and paste. My mom worked hard in producing her shows. She selected her sound engineers very carefully. She knew what it took to comply with her many edits. When it came to radio, she was a perfectionist.
I remember once she did not like the tonality at the end of her show. She had the engineer edit the tape over and over till it was exactly how she wanted it. I was watching her behind the glass impatiently waiting for the completion of the edit. And saying, “Mom, it sounds great let’s go home already!” And she would smile and say, “A couple more minutes, love, I am almost done.” Once the program was recorded, she had to listen to it while it broadcast and then one more time, when it played an encore. My dad used to say, “Why do you have to listen to it? You recorded it, you listened to it once already, why once more?” and her answer was simple: she needed to hear herself and identify imperfections in her voice, the delivery, the tonality, and timing.
I think I carry some of that focus from my mom. Sometimes I will record my talk over and over and over, until it produces the quality I want to project and deliver. I also find myself listening to my programs, both when they are recorded and when aired. Don’t tell anyone…
My mom did not have the opportunity to converse in Arabic with my kids, or to witness the artistic talent that my daughter Sivan has. She did have the opportunity to listen to my oldest son Yoni play the violin, since he began when he was 4 years old. She did not experience his real talent in playing the Viola and the Oud and his singing in Yiddish, English, Hebrew, and Arabic.
Violet spent hours and hours responding to the hundreds of fan letters she would receive. I have memories of watching her sort through boxes of fan mail. Carefully opening each envelope and writing some notes. One time I asked her, “Are you going to respond to all these letters?” And her response was, “Yes, for these listeners, writing and getting a response may be the most significant event in their lives this week or month, or even a year, so yes, I am going to answer all of them.” She was able to make her fans feel that they were the most important people in her life.
At least once a week she traveled to Arab villages for interviews and ‘voices from the field’ as she called it. The trip started early in the morning and ended late. As I mentioned, she was treated as dignitary from out of state and the trip included festive lunches and dinners. She always took a family member or a friend who really needed some cheering up or an uplifting boost in their lives.
My Mother’s Passing (Violet Battat)
Her passing was so sudden. Approximately 2000 people from all over, Arabs and Jews alike attended her funeral.
I ended the emotional program with MFSB – My One and Only Love. It was a dream come true and incredible experience.
I would like to thank all of you who listened and supported this program. Your encouragement certainly made a difference.
I hope you enjoyed listening as much as I enjoyed presenting it.
This whole program was dedicated to my mother – my inspiration for radio. But it’s also dedicated to all the mothers out there.
- If your mother is alive, embrace every moment and make sure you create more memories and stories.If your mother is not alive, I hope you remember your mother, if not daily at least weekly or monthly.
- If you are a mother, you are most likely inspiring and influencing your kids in many ways and with your love.
- If you are not a mother, I am hoping you have an outlet to spread your motherly love.
- And I came across a quote by Mitch Albom, the author of the book – Tuesdays with Morrie
“Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story. Because here is where yours begins.”
My Own Gratitude
My heart is full of gratitude for two very special people – Davyne Dial, the owner and the general manager of this radio station, WPVM who acquired and maintains this radio station for the past 6-7 years. Davyne gave me total freedom in the content and the music selection and encouraged me to produce a program to commemorate my Radio Inspiration- my MOM!
If it was not for you – I don’t know how otherwise I would have the opportunity to broadcast live on the air.
AND… Another person who I must say, came into my heart and life – WHEN I LEAST EXPECTED and changed it for the better. PJ Ewing, the one and only!
PJ developed our web sites, introduced me to Davyne and continues to add value to my life. Thank you PJ for the beautiful friendship
I love you both – And if I am already being grateful –
A BIG shout out to our newest friends, whom we feel we knew for many years, Ronna and Rob, who hosted us in Asheville so gracefully and generously – Big thanks from the bottom of our hearts.
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