A quarter-of-a-century on air

VETERAN journalist and producer Nitza Lowenstein, who has carved out a niche for herself broadcasting about Jewish life and culture with SBS National Radio’s Hebrew program, is getting ready to mark 25 years with the network this year.

Over her distinguished career, the Israeli-raised producer has interviewed an impressive list of prime ministers, Nobel Prize winners and diplomats, as well as covered a range of hotbed issues – from politics, health and law to the arts, religion and the environment.

But of all the guests on her program, it was her interview with Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel that stands out.

“He was one of my very first interviews,” she recalled to The AJN. “I met him in 1988 when he visited Australia. I was so nervous before I met him and read everything I could about him and his extraordinary survival. I will never forget how humble and nice he was to me, to an unknown young journalist.

“In our brief meeting, he inspired me to look at the Holocaust ­differently.”

Lowenstein said that growing up in Israel, most of her friends’ parents were Holocaust survivors.

“The testimonies of survivors that I heard as a young child, during the Eichmann trial, had a profound impact on me,” Lowenstein explained.

“I have been struggling with it ever since. Eli Wiesel gave me a new perspective and hope.”

Looking back at the program’s “humble beginnings”, she also doesn’t take for granted how far things have come with the advent of the internet and other computer software. “When I started 25 years ago, we didn’t have computers and Google was just a funny word. Editing interviews on reel-to-reel recorders was a slow and laborious process.

“Unlike the young journalists that take what is offered today for granted, I still appreciate the fact that I can get news and information instantly from so many reliable sources, can research topics in two minutes, send and receive emails instead of the daily ‘memos’ that clogged my ‘pigeon-hole’, and most of all, edit all interviews myself on the computer with the latest software available.”

Apart from working as a radio producer, Lowenstein also has a number of interesting side gigs.

She has worked as a court interpreter, including during the 1993 war crimes trial of Ivan Polyukhovich who was eventually acquitted, and regularly serves as a marriage celebrant, conducting hundreds of ceremonies over recent years.

CHANTAL ABITBOL

Twenty-five years and still going strong… SBS journalist Nitza Lowenstein.