When Nachum Segal was a child, he would listen to sports, especially Yankees games, with a transistor radio under his pillow. He’s grown that childhood passion into a more than three-decades-long broadcasting career.
Segal, the man behind the Nachum Segal Network (NSN) and the voice of JM in the AM (Jewish Moments in the Morning), brought his four-year-old Kosher Halftime Show to Cedarhurst’s Courtside Grill for a live videotaping last motzei Shabbos. The program will air on the NSN’s digital channels during halftime on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5.
Four years ago, Segal began doing a Kosher Halftime Show as an option for observant Jews who do not want to watch the immodest entertainment offered during the break in the big game’s action.
“In 2014, we first did it to make a point for people in this country — that as wonderful as the Super Bowl is, they didn’t want to watch and didn’t want their children exposed to the Super Bowl halftime show,” Segal said. “We view our programming as a statement. It’s value-laden programming and a family-oriented alternative.”
After two years in the studio and last year taping at the Teaneck Doghouse, a kosher sports-themed restaurant similar to Courtside Grill, Segal came to the Five Towns. His musical guest was the EvanAl Orchestra, featuring Cedarhurst resident Aryeh Kunstler.
Segal recounted that when he was five or six listening to the transistor, “it was the magic of the voice coming out of that box.” He said he was pushed by his late mother, Esther Segal, to explore his interest while in college. “It was just the whole magic, the intimacy of the medium. I fell in love with it.”
At Yeshiva University in 1981, he worked at the school’s on-campus station, WYUR. Two years later, Segal became the head of Jewish programming at WFMU, an FM station that broadcasts from New Jersey and into New York City, the Hudson Valley and parts of Pennsylvania.
JM in the AM went live in September 1983 on WFMU, and Segal later expanded its audience into Jewish communities throughout the world on the web and through an NSN app. Many listeners begin their days at 6 am with the program’s intro song, Modeh Ani. In December, Segal ended his network’s use of terrestrial radio and began offering its 24/6 output exclusively over the digital Nachum Segal Network.
“Listeners, supporters are trending up,” said network General Manager Miriam L. Wallach of Woodmere. “People are looking for something good, something different to listen to.”
Segal’s guests include authors, community leaders, government officials and newsmakers as well as musicians. “I like to say that I’m always preparing, taking notes” for the morning show and a weekly current events segment on the Friday show, he said.
“What’s great about Nachum is they don’t always have mainstream [Jewish] music, they have somewhat alternative styles of Jewish music,” Kunstler said. “I think it’s cool.”
Kunstler, whose father Avi is also a musician, said he grew up in a recording studio since the first grade. “When hockey wasn’t going to work out, I picked up a guitar and made a career out it,” he said. He has played on a record with his father and his dad performed on Aryeh’s second album, “Our Eyes Are on You.”
He grew up in Rockaway Beach, and now his parents and a grandmother are in Lawrence, and one of his brothers lives in Woodmere. Another brother is, he said, kiddingly, is in the sixth of Five Towns — Israel.
At Saturday night’s taping, the musicians — Kunstler on guitar and vocals, Gli Lax on keyboards, drummer Israel Reches and bassist Mitch Friedman — cranked out six songs, including “Split the Sea,” “Modeh Ani,” Hashem Melech,” “Mi Chamocha,” “Ani Maumia Zusha” and “Hafaenta.” Shy Clyman served as the band’s sound mixer. Some audience members could be seen singing along.
As for who is going to win the big game, Segal, a Jets fan, did not offer a prediction but said he was pleased “that both team owners are great supporters of Israel.” Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft are well-known as contributors to Jewish causes.
To view the roughly 20-minute show during the Super Bowl’s halftime (or anytime after that) go to nachumegal.com or download the NSN app. To learn more about Kunstler’s music, visit aryehkunstler.com.