Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Damn!!!....BEATS And PIECES is gone from the airwaves......DAMN!!!

hello friends and lovers of good music...

This is a sad day for music listeners (and myself) around the area, as one of the world's BEST radio experiences, the mighty, mighty show "Beats And Pieces" has been recently silenced at Oregon Public Broadcasting.

I actually heard this fact a week or so earlier, and finally got a chance to search out something on the web to substantiate this very somber fact. It sounds like more corporate tinkering with which way our sensitivities should skew, when listening to OPB's recent change in music programming.

As a committed local radio programmer on KBOO 90.7 FM on the show "Jazz Rap II", I did (and still do) appreciate the work and skill that the show's venerable and humble host, Steven Cantor brought every week with his musical musings

I am still going through withdrawl from this announcement.

Furthermore, I will truly miss the boldness that SC exibited each time out, and I personally am the more richer since guitarist Dan Balmer told me of the show's existence on the airwaves, back in the early part of the decade.

Contained within this edition of my writings is a blog post from pdxstra's blog on the Oregon Media Insiders web page, a story by Willamette Week's Julie Sabitier and the ensuing posts by readers, along with an official announcement from the OPB web site later down the page.

As updates continue to be posted, I will do my best to present these as they become available.

These new posts, as well as the current amount of writings about the show will continue to illustrate the importance of free thinking in radio, as well as adventurous leanings, with regards to what is the beautiful quotient when music attempts to do the aforementioned.
They also should show the true feelings of those listeners out there lucky to be touched by Beats And Pieces.

IT IS really a shame when officials (such as the ones at OPB) just don't see the long view of having that creative juice flowing through the infrastructure of their organization, while bringing people music that will challenge, enrich, and sustain them.

I am sure that many listeners like myself have had enough of the homogenous nature of programming to the lowest common denominator of listener. B & P whittled away those morose conventions every week, was a topical comment on many forms and atmospheres of music, and always worked / aspired to grow the ears on a listener, not to put them conviently to sleep.

Oh, by the way, mssrs. at OPB.....

As a local musician, it never ceases to amaze me how much the region's musicians and artist get regularly ignored by the radio pundits in this area, save for community and college radio concerns. This region is, and has always been ALIVE with great talent, and to piggyback an explanation of how this will fact be rectified with inclusion in the new direction of OPB's programming is just self-serving. This should have been, and virtually WAS happening anyway with your newly retired programmers.

Steven Cantor was fearless in performing this very task on his show, so throwing this fine programmer out with the change in ratings bathwater only serves to enhance the fact that the officios just don't know squat about the valuable resource that is under their collective noses.

Let's now together digest this very unsavory meal planned for our continued listening diets.


Beats & Pieces Canceled: Whither Music on OPB?

Submitted by pdxtra on Sat, 03/31/2007 - 8:41am.

Beats & Pieces is canceled as of the end of this weekend, according to a rather terse message introducing the show last night. Apparently it will be replaced by the national music program UnderCurrents, while a new local music program is on its way.

I'm reminded of Lynn's post back when OPB canceled Performance Today:

David Christensen and Steven Cantor, watch your backs; you're next.

But taking OPB at its word that it's canceling the one half of its remaining music programming only to replace it with different music, I'm wondering why? Did Cantor want to move on? Is there a high demand among OPB listeners for different sleepytime music?

The temporary replacement describes itself as "Rock, Blues, Folk, Native, Country, Funk, Electronica, Reggae, World, Conscious Hip Hop, Dub and more." The demo sounds like something liable to wake one up at random, though at least not with the theremin/Alpen horn/didgeridoo jam session to which Eclecticty is prone.

So what would you prefer? The soothing sounds of Beats & Pieces? The less-soothing sounds of something else? A bunch of Brits reporting genocide and famine as you fall asleep? I go with the lattermost.

OPB Announces Changes in Music Programming

Oregon Public Broadcasting said it will continue to make changes in its OPB Radio (91.5 FM) music programming beginning with the April 1 discontinuation of Beats & Pieces.

Special music programming will begin April 6 and continue through mid-May when OPB will launch new programs featuring local and regional music and artists.

"We believe our listeners will be very pleased with this new programming, especially when it features the music of this region and some of our own most talented musicians," said OPB President Steve Bass. He said more details will be announced closer to the mid-May launch date.

He also thanked Steven Cantor, host of Beats & Pieces, for his many years of service as the program's host. Cantor was offered a different position with OPB but declined to accept it.

Bass said OPB constantly reviews its programming via member surveys, calls and emails, audience ratings and focus group research. Similar research guided OPB’s earlier decision to offer the Performance Today program to All-Classical 89.9 FM and its current decision to end Beats & Pieces, which had a loyal but very small following.

"We are listening to our members when we make these decisions and what they are telling us is that they want change and expect top-quality music programs such as those we'll be adding to OPB Radio," he said.

Friday, May 4th, 2007

NEWS STORY Radio daze : Musical chairs at OPB.

I WANT MY MTV? What does OPB consultant Paul Marszalek have in mind to replace Beats and Pieces ?
BY JULIE SABATIER | 503-243-2122

[April 25th, 2007] On Sunday nights, Scott Jackson liked to kick back, read the paper and tune in to Oregon Public Broadcasting for Steven Cantor's Beats and Pieces.

The music show defined eclectic, playing everything from jazz and classical to jug bands, electronica and music from around the world.

"[Cantor] would play a lot of things I hadn't heard before, and I've heard a lot of music," says the 52-year-old Jackson, who isn't an OPB member. "It's as though the songs were having a conversation. They fed off of each other."

That conversation ended this month when Jackson along with other Beats and Pieces fans instead heard a syndicated music show called UnderCurrents.

UnderCurrents is a temporary placeholder for Beats and Pieces, which had aired Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights since the late '90s on OPB. The show had an estimated 2,000 listeners, making it one of OPB's lowest-rated shows.

"It's not serving kind of the core, loyal OPB listeners. So, we think this is an opportunity," said OPB President and CEO Steve Bass. An opportunity for what he didn't exactly say, beyond stating evening programming must be "re-thought.

OPB plans to announce its new weekend music program sometime in May. But here's one possible clue about what it will be: OPB has enlisted consultant Paul Marszalek, a former vice president of music programming for VH1/MTV Networks.

He's also held senior management positions at KFOG in San Francisco and WXRT in Chicago. Both stations adhere to the Adult Album Alternative format, which aims at young adults who appreciate a broad definition of rock music. Think Regina Spektor and Rufus Wainwright.

"There are noncommercial and commercial AAA stations," Christensen says. "This won't really be exactly like that, but with contemporary music there will be a lot of overlap there."

Bass downplays consultants' role in programming decisions. But OPB's vice president of radio programming, Lynne Clendenin, says consultants are important because they "can provide insight and another voice."

"I tried to see if I could put together sets based on my understanding of what I think they have in mind, and it meant eliminating about 85 percent of what I played," says Beats and Pieces host Steven Cantor. "If programming decisions are to be made solely on the basis of achieving the highest rating, then it becomes unclear to me what the distinction is between a public radio station and a conventional, commercial radio station."


The following are some comments blogged to WW's story "Radio Daze" by Julie Sabatier concerning the changes at OPB.


John Cozzolino
Apr 25th, 2007 11:38am

I guess I'm one of the "2000" who has listened faithfully for years to Steven Cantor's "Beats & Pieces" music programs. Mr. Cantor's work brought a breath of fresh eclectic air to Portland's airwaves, and I'll miss terribly his musical insights, discussions of artists, and quirky theme sets. If OPB uses his slot to go to an "AAA" -type format, they will lose me forever as a listener and member. If I wanted to hear that type of dreck, I could tune in to any one of a half-dozen commercial Portland stations. Believe it or not, OPB, there are some people who appreciate music that goes beyond the "safe" formats!

Harold Hutchinson
Apr 25th, 2007 11:39am

If I was an OPB member (and this continuing OPB trend towards the consulted and the bland is a major reason I am not) I would be requesting a return of my membership. Just exactly who is the core of loyal OPB listeners not being served?

Apr 26th, 2007 7:28am

When George Fendle was let go, the jazz scene in Portland went to Zero, than I went away to the Internet. I listen to the OPB news in the morning[ clock radio] and nothing else. OPB TV almost the same. Now, Nova, and Front-line are the only programs on OPB worth my attention.

Mark Hendershott
Apr 26th, 2007 8:58am

Glad I live in broadcast range of both KLCC (Eugene) and Jefferson Public Radio.

Apr 26th, 2007 7:39pm

Of course, much of what's here is speculation, isn't it? So instead of getting all hipper than thou and indignant, as so many of you are want to do, why not see what ACTUALLY REPLACES Beats & Pieces and give it a shot? If you honestly think that OPB is going to go to a format in that time slot that resembles commercial dreck, you have a broad definition of "commercial dreck." Really, would a Portland-centric program along the lines of what you might hear on Seattle's KEXP be that bad? Just whom, exactly, are you too cool for? Pete Krebs? Laura Veirs? The Decemberists? Talkdemonic? Menomena? M. Ward? Seriously kids, settle down until you have actual information on which to base your diatribes.

Apr 27th, 2007 4:50pm

Actually Billy, I'm way too old to ever consider myself "hipper than thou"...Pete Krebs? Laura Veirs? The Decemberists? Talkdemonic? Menomena? M. Ward? Who ARE these people? Believe it or not, some people just really don't give two shits about the much-overhyped local indie rock scene. By the tone of your comment it seems that you've never really listened to Beats & Pieces. This is what you won't get with Steven Cantor gone: free jazz; avante-guarde jazz; long-forgotten early 1920s jazz; classical; avante-classical; modern classical; the Turtle Island and Kronos Quartets; the National Womens Choir of Bulgaria; Tuvan throat singers; unbelievable sound collages from DJ-mixes from around the world; experimental music...and on and on. Stuff you would never hear on ANY other program that I know of.

And no offense, but as far as the AAA radio format is concerned, I'd rather listen to Louden Wainright, John Prine, Jesse Colin Young or Eric Anderson rather than Rufus Wainwright. Same for Regina Spektor-- give me Kate & Anna, the Roches, Carole King, even Carly Simon, fer chrissakes! Guess I'm showin' my age here.

Apr 28th, 2007 1:48am

Yeah, I guess you are showing your age-- old dog/new tricks, and all of that. And whatever you do, don't check those artists out for yourself. Let your preconceived notions based on....I don't know, apparently Rufus Wainwright and Regina Spektor, guide you. I mean, it's a bit ridiculous and a moot point all together if you're simply going to make blanket statements referring to some "much over-hyped local indie rock scene," as if every artist I named were the same as one another and fit nicely into your classification. Seriously, if that's the stance your taking then we're both wasting breath.

Apr 29th, 2007 8:37am

The point is, my friend, that you can hear all the artists you mention on other Portland (or internet) stations, any time you want. Are you really gonna stay home Saturday night to listen in to OPB's "new format for loyal, core OPB listeners" (what the hell were WE?!?) instead of crowding into the Doug Fir? The people who listened to "Beats & Pieces" were (are) very loyal; I would even make my pledges specifically during his program during fundraising. But, OPB couldn't leave well enough alone, even for a few measly Saturday night hours, the same Saturday night hours that TV relegate to old "Matlock" reruns because no one else even gives a shit about that time slot. Once upon a time, the music industry used to finance its' more adventerous artists with the multi-megasellers, but no longer. I guess radio's going the same route.

Oh, and by the way, I have heard all the artists you mentioned in your earlier post. I was just needling a bit. Where did I hear them? At one time or another, Steven Cantor played them all on Beats & Pieces!!!

Alex D
Apr 29th, 2007 1:23pm

What really bothered me was the sad way in which Cantor's show was unceremoniously dumped. I sent him a very fond thank you and farewell via his OPB mail address, but I doubt it was forwarded.

Beats & Pieces was - by far - the best, most thoughtful, interesting, and intriguing music programming I've heard on the airwaves. I'd listen by the radio and make note of the most poignant or beautiful pieces, then check the website playlists later to discover the source. I discovered several dozens of artists this way, and much of what later found it's way to my stereo or ipod was thanks to him. Should the U.S. fix its internet radio rate structure, I hope he launches something online where his wide-ranging musical taste and knowledge can reach a much wider audience. I'm definitely not hopeful about OPB's replacement, and doubt I will be spending weekend nights listening in as before. Beats & Pieces really was a kind of unique jewel, and I'm sad to see OPB throwing it away for more conventional and obvious fare.

Apr 30th, 2007 12:42pm

I feel your pain fellas. Truth is, anybody over 50 today is considered non-per$on, if you get my drift. It's not just OPB. Look around. The wasting of our tastes, needs, nay, even the right to have opinions of the "boomer" and later generations has been underway for a long while. Either we weren't paying attention or it hadn't yet reached critical mass. Beats & Pieces is the red light as far as OPB is concerned, the yellow having already been flashed by national and local NPR-connected radio bowing to corporation "sponsorship," admitting the bottom line is no longer truth or cultural diversity but almighty currencies (this to include the ever-rising Euro). OPB is a perfect mirror to this anti-culture. Superficiality and ratings chasing will be the dominant characteristics as time goes on. Sad to say, while an OPB member now, I probably won't be on the next pledge go round.

Oh yes, this gives me the chance to say to the "young breeds" who've decided the rest of us are fit only for the world's manure pile... you'll find out at some point what it feels like and you'll hate it every bit as much as do the "fossils" you deride today. There have always been generational shifts, points where so-called elders stepped aside for so-called youth. Yet, never with the edge we seem to have going on here. Never with quite so much smugness and contempt for people not that far away in chronological years but apparently worlds apart in the way they think and what they treasure. Of course, I'm conveniently leaving out the late '60s and '70s where REAL disconnects were happening resulting in things like (sometimes daily)riots and bombings, coast-to-coast. Once the peace and love rhetoric got stripped away, things got pretty nasty and OUR elders pushed back, too.

So, on the one hand, even as I've opened my window here screaming, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" (dismissal by those sans one grey hair) ... on the other hand, my Buddhist inclinations kick in causing me to say, let's show compassion to one another, whether it involves tastes in programming or larger issues such as war. It doesn't mean I'll learn to like OPB's canning of Steven Cantor. It does mean I'll learn to take these inevitable changes more calmly without losing my own center -- or hope.

"Let us cease from wrath, and

refrain from angry looks. Nor

let us be resentful when others

differ from us. For all people

have hearts, and each heart has

its own leanings. Their right

is our wrong, and our right is

their wrong. We are not un-

questionably sages, nor are they

unquestionably fools. Both of us

are simply ordinary people. How can

anyone lay down a rule by which to

distinguish right from wrong? For

we are all, one with another, wise

and foolish, like a ring which has

no end."

--Shotoku Taishi (574-621 CE)

here is a 2002 story on SC from Reed College Magazine that was very interesting and clearly puts an ictus on what his mission was when doing radio. Enjoy!!!

A Sponsored Avocation / August 2002

At about the same time Karen Burdick was playing the blues, Steven Cantor ’73 was in the basement dreaming up God’s Big Radio Show, which—you do the logic—would play only Bob Dylan. KRRC was the first time Cantor had done any radio, but for someone whose deepest love was music it was the land of milk and honey and rare recordings discovered on the shelf.

“Reed was an incredible thing for me,” Cantor says now. “It still stands out as the most amazing group of people I’ve been able to be a member of in my life. Every person I met was interesting.”

Cantor left Reed in 1971 to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied with, and eventually became friends and roommates with, the celebrated jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Cantor’s ear for music was so good that he was soon helping produce records for Metheny, whose band members included some of the world’s finest musicians.

“I was the guy in the studio whose responsi-bility it was to keep an eye and ear on the forest while the musicians got (appropriately) lost in the trees,” he says. “I was a member of the production team on two of Pat’s recordings, and then co-produced the first two solo records for Lyle Mays [Metheny’s famed keyboardist] with him.”

Steven Cantor ’73Which might make you assume the rest of Cantor’s story is all Ferraris and big houses in the L.A. hills. But for two things: while Metheny is a very successful jazz musician, he is still a jazz musician, which is more nice Volvo than Ferrari territory. And Cantor was unwilling to take on all the crappy projects that he would need along with the good ones to hit the big time.

“Those records were labors of love for me,” he says. “I didn’t want to make it a job.”

Cantor stumbled upon a free-form radio station affiliated with Tufts University, where he did a show that drew upon his extensive contacts with different kinds of music and musicians. When he returned to Portland in 1993 with a “day job” as a database programmer at Adidas, he began looking for a similar outlet for his passion.

“I noticed that Oregon Public Broadcasting’s radio station had a format something like the Tufts station, and eventually I went on air there, playing music on the weekends—four hours Saturday and three hours Sunday. So you see, I don’t really have a career in radio: it’s sort of a sponsored avocation! In fact, I probably spend everything I make at OPB on recordings for the show.”

Cantor has a mission whenever he’s on the radio: “Today there are more amazing recordings of fantastic music in all styles available than ever before—conversely, there are fewer and fewer places to hear them on the radio. I try to bridge that gap. In my life I’ve had the good fortune to hook up with a dizzying variety of incredible musicians, so I’m familiar with a lot of music. To me, this show is payback for that good fortune.

“What I find myself doing on radio. . . . I just don’t know of any other medium that works this way. It’s a unique form of expression, and for me it’s a unique showcase for a wide range of musical expression. I feel like I’m doing a live mix performance every time I’m on the air. I’ll keep doing it as long as they let me.”

(ed.note) Amen....

a recent post about SC from "The Sound-O-Mat" May 02, 2007

The Sound-O-Mat, located in Portland, Oregon, is a Post-Production and Mastering Audio & Video (DVD) Studio with two sound engineers, as well as a small "boutique" record label. This blog is a way to share our adventures and experience in the world of audio!

Canceling Our OPB Membership and Support
Just recently, Oregon Public Broadcasting, aka OPB, which runs both a radio and TV station each, canceled a fantastic, free-form radio show that ran Fri/Sat/Sun nights by who we feel is the most amazing free-format radio DJ ever: one Mr. Steven Cantor. Better than anyone on KBOO as he was willing to play anything (one evening we heard a local string quartet as well as tracks from Autechre, because he had seen both play live locally that week) and focused on the music and merely relating as much of his encyclopedic knowledge about what he was playing that blabbing some agenda and/or lifestyle as KBOO radio hosts tend to do, and we think he had better chops than any of the very good to amazing DJs on the famous publically-funded N.J. station WFMU, which does excellent radio programs but none of which are truly the "cover the entire spectrum of all music without any bias" that Mr. Cantor did - his love of all styles of music, without exception, made and makes him uniquely the best at this type of show.

Here's the letter we wrote OPB to tell them to revoke our membership and that we would be supporting other locally funded radio stations:

We wish to revoke and cancel my membership, and be removed from all mailing lists, electronic or otherwise, that OPB has. We were upset when Performance Today was removed from the weekday programming, but the cancellation of Steven Cantor's "Beats & Pieces" free-form music radio show on Fri-Sun evenings is the last straw. Spending my money to hire expensive "consultants" to replace the show with one that has "more local and mainstream appeal" is not only a waste of my money that I will not tolerate, but goes against what Mr. Cantor's show was already doing: capturing and offering a lot of new and interesting music, often combined with classical and older music, with a strong emphasis on local - it was rare for him not to play music from local bands or ones that had played in Portland the week before, as Mr. Cantor obviously attends local musical events almost every day of the week.
His support of local music and creating a radio show unique and suited to Portland was unprecedented and without peer, and the complaint that his show had low ratings (2000 listeners) is no only likely wrong: I have turned on dozens of people to his show myself and have a computer program set up to capture it to listen to later when I'm busy, but the time slot in which he was working is the worst possible one: Fri/Sat nights people are busy and out doing things, and Sun nights most people retire early to bed or to watch TV, and no change in programming during those time slots will increase listenership in any drastic way, no matter how much money you WASTE hiring OUT-OF-STATE contractors and "musical directors" to try to address this "make-believe" issue. I think Mr. Cantor put it best when he said that when OPB is worried about ratings and bringing in outside experts to create shows to attract audiences, then it is no longer playing a role as a publically funded radio station but is acting, in every way, like a commercial station.

If President Bass has decided he wants to run OPB, at least the radio division, which produces much of the listener generated money without the huge costs of the TV division, which costs far more than it brings in, then in my mind OPB has become in every way a commercial station, and can run adverts to support itself and no longer needs my support.

If you want to act like a commercial station, then turn into one, and don't expect me to ever send another penny to OPB to be wasted on the TV division which I don't watch, and so you can run a commercial station which can be funded like any other commercial one: with advertisers.

I have watched OPB change over the years, and I can't say there's been much improvement aside from finally offering OPB on the Internet as a stream, but otherwise it has been nothing but constant moves backwards: canceling Schickely (sp?) Mix, then Performance Today, and now Mr. Cantor, while Music Director David Christianson's rather lame and predictable weeknight show continues.

Your priorities and objectives are completely out of line both with the point and purpose of PUBLIC broadcasting as well as you listenership, and I hope you will find many others like myself who are sick of the cancellation of the shows we've enjoyed and made us regular listeners, to the point where you cannot operate without taking on more and more advertisers to where you eventually give up pretending to be a "public broadcasting" station any more.

Fortunately, due to the Internet, I can tune into the shows I do want to hear, and I will send my money to stations elsewhere in the country to support the programming I am interested in, but the cancellation of Mr. Cantor's show is irreplacable and as such, I no longer wish to have any association whatsoever with OPB.

There are also other local alternatives, such as the classical music station KBPS, the jazz station, KMHD, and of course, a true PUBLIC RADIO station, KBOO, and they will get my listenership and funding from hereon out.

Please cancel my membership immediately and remove me from all mailing lists, and do not ever contact me again. I am no longer an OPB listener and I intend to leave my OPB canvas bags at Goodwill and have already removed the sticker from my car. Good luck with your continued progress in grinding the OPB radio station into the ground and turning it into an AM-style "talk radio" blah blah blah station. You're doing that very well. Congrats.

We doubt OPB will listen or care or make even the slightest change based on this, but we've spoken our piece/peace and will simply no longer listen to their station, which seems to spend as much time running "Fund Drives" as not these days. Too stupid to realize they're getting less listener support because their programming choices are bad, and wasting money trying to run the station as if it was a commercial one is even worse. We can't decide where our tax dollars go, but we can sure decide where we donate our money and time. Fuck you OPB. We hope you go bankrupt running your money-losing TV station.

Posted by Wink Junior at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Anonymous john_mcbroom@urscorp.com said...

It is stunning that OPB has dropped Steven Cantor's show...They have no clue of the treasures and the experience that he brings to the airwaves...

His knowledge of music is unique and his shows are always exceptional. I have been privileged to listen to him for 10 years.

My hope is he stays involved in the Northwest community as it's great to see him at shows (PMG, J. DeJohnette, etc...) and hear his voice in broadcast.

Probably the most insulting part of this whole thing is that - if I turn my clock radio on during the show's times - the RDS feed still says Beats and Pieces!!

I'm tellin' ya, it just chaps my ass...

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anybody know where Steven Cantor is now or what he is doing?

10:38 PM  

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