Reggae Beat Radio Tapes

 The Reggae Beat radio program archives cover eight critical years in the internationalization of reggae. Founded by Roger Steffens and Hank Holmes, the Reggae Beat was a weekly oral history of the music and its culture, broadcast over KCRW in Santa Monica (L.A.), California. The first program aired October 7, 1979, and Roger left the series at the end of May, 1987. Each of those shows was carefully documented with tapes made directly from the studio's control board. The show's first musical guest was Bob Marley, six weeks after the program began. In the course of the next eight years, nearly every major reggae star of the time was interviewed live. Thanks to a noncommercial format, adequate time could be devoted to a discussion of the performer's life story, his discography, and quite often a live performance in the studio as well. Hank Holmes' extraordinary collection of thousands of Jamaica's most hardcore roots seven-inch singles added an invaluable dimension to the broadcasts, lending a kind of "Rastafari grounation" feel to the middle of each show. Plus, one never knew who was about to walk through the door on Sunday afternoons, so every broadcast had a riveting combination of great information, priceless music, live concert recordings from L.A.'s biggest clubs, and lots of unexpected moments of magical spontaneity. Dermott Hussey, Jamaica's most respected broadcaster, has called The Reggae Beat "North America's best reggae program." Today, copies of these classic shows are highly sought after collectors items. Now, we are making the best of these timeless recordings available at nominal prices, to spread the work of Jah and his messengers, so you too can hear these time capsules of history in the making. A list of specially selected programs and their in-studio guests follows.

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