New Beginnings: The New Rhythm Planet Program

Tom at the Mic (1980)

After being with you for over 20 years on Sundays—and for 34 years since I began producing radio shows for KCRW—today will be my last live broadcast show. It’s been a joy and incredibly rewarding for me to share my favorite music with you over this long stretch of time. That’s me in the old John Adams Middle School studio back in the early days of Morning Becomes Eclectic, probably around 1980. How time flies!

I’m actually not leaving KCRW, just making a transition to our new digital platform, where I’ll be hosting a new online show that I’m very excited to share with you called Rhythm Planet. This new show will be a companion to my ongoing KCRW blog which I’ve been writing for the past couple of years.

On Rhythm Planet, I’ll produce a weekly feature with jazz, world, and latin music, exclusive interviews and live sessions. Mining from my MBE archive, I will be presenting rare interviews with many of the legendary musical heroes and giants. I’ll also appear monthly with Jason on Morning Becomes Eclectic to showcase my latest world music recommendations.

KCRW will soon launch a Rhythm Planet CD Club where I pick my favorite jazz and world music titles as premiums for members. I’m also hosting KCRW’s Up Close program with jazz pianist Alan Pasqua on May 20 at the Jerry and Anne Moss Stage in Santa Monica. Alan will join me in presenting a live history of jazz piano from honky tonk to Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor, and beyond. I’m absolutely thrilled about this upcoming event and look forward to seeing many of you there!

The first new Rhythm Planet feature is already up and running so be sure to check it out. Finally, for the first time since it aired on Morning Becomes Eclectic in June of 1986, you can now hear my interview with the legendary Nigerian afrobeat superstar Fela Kuti.

This is especially timely because Fela! The Musical has returned by popular demand to LA for its second big run at the Ahmanson Theatre, but also because Fela Kuti had always been a constant musical presence here on KCRW since I first played his rebellious music 30 years ago. The Fela feature is just a prelude to much more to come on my new Rhythm Planet program. I’ve got many other musical immortals in the pipeline too:   interviews with Peter Tosh, Alice Coltrane, Ibrahim Ferrer and many more are coming soon!

I want to thank my great production assistants Bob Werne—who’s been with me since 1993—as well as Mary Falcone and Camellia Tse, who’ve helped me so much in producing my live shows and enjoying them even more.

Please stay in touch and follow me as I embark on this new venture. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter. Of course I’ll miss doing live radio, being an old-time deejay, but this is not an ending—just a transition and a new beginning.

So please do listen online, become members of the KCRW Rhythm Planet CD Club and come out on May 20 for Up Close with pianist Alan Pasqua. As always, feel free to contact me directly through the station or at or on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for your support…and for listening!



  1. tom schnabel
    May 5, 2013, 10:55 pm

    Thank you Evelyn. I appreciate it.

    best wishes,


  2. Evelyn Seubert
    May 5, 2013, 10:16 pm

    Like all those above, I'm distraught that I can't catch you live on the weekends - my favorite part of KCRW. So now I'll bookmark your new show and follow your wonderful, gracious, insightful observations and spot-on music pix from around the world. Long may you prosper!

  • Tia Bentley

    Congratulations on continuing to evolve Tom- and taking listeners with you. Much gratitude and respect for all you have and will continue to offer the world of music.

    In the midst of change, we are most alive!

  • David Polk

    Say it ain't so, Tom! Wishing you the best of luck in your transition, and I hope that Rhythm Planet will feature as much music, if not more, than you currently do on the show. Features and your priceless commentary are great *complements* (but nothing could replace!) to two solid hours of music discovery bliss!

  • Kate Stern

    Tom, I am thrilled for you and have loved your show more than I can say in words. I had a great experience once bringing my close friend David Broza to your studio to record an interview with you. I sat in the booth, listening and watching for an hour of pure bliss.

    Cheers to you!

    Kate Stern

  • Will miss you on the air Tom but will check you out online.

  • Eric Boardman

    Sunday will never the same. Noon to two was the meat in my musical sandwich.

    • tom schnabel

      i hope the digital sandwich is somehow as fresh as the live one. We shall see. Thank you Eric.

  • Ann Thibault

    Ur the reason I tuned in Sundays….misses you already!

  • fortune

    Tom, What you have shared with us via KCRW for so many years will last in our hearts forever. Thank you for introducing us to the music of the world, and for sharing your knowledge to bring our world together. I always wondered what Sunday would be like if you weren't there in the afternoon. The way in which you announced your transition today makes the switch more acceptable. It's good news that you'll be expanding your horizons. Thank you for all of your programs, and especially this last one. It is so eclectic and full of the joy of life. Good luck in everything, Fortune

  • Harriet Brown

    Oh, no, no, no, no, no!!!! Tom – there is NO ONE WHO COMPARES TO YOU! So sad. Thank you for the many years of enlightenment. Will try to follow online, but huge loss to those who truly treasure the best Sunday afternoons with true eclectic treasures. much love –

  • jsa

    Oh no! My favorite part of Sunday. I look forward to checking out the new online format, but I'll miss the live show very much. I also hope shows featuring World Music remain a part of KCRW's music programming. Such a bummer…but as you said: transition.

  • Felix

    Thanks for the music, Tom. You're one of my favorite DJ's. I've learned a lot about music listening to you every Sunday. I'll look forward to catching "Rhythm Planet." Best regards.

  • Mary McDaniel

    I didn't know about the transition until I heard the show today. While I wish you the best in the new enterprise, I can't stop crying. I moved to LA in 1989 from Oklahoma. I feel as if I I knew nothing until I heard you on KCRW.
    You opened my eyes. To say that I will miss you just doesn't cover it. Thank you so much, Tom!

  • Tom, you have been a part of my sundays for decades now and i will surely miss your wonderful voice and knowledge of world music. i have learned so much about music and share your passion for discovering new music and talent.

    i’m sorry i haven’t been able to attend your salons, now that i leave back in San Francisco, i listen to KCRW via the web daily and it reminds me of all of the wonderful sunday afternoons on the beach in venice learning about a new artist and the wonderful back story of their adventures.

    i’m hoping that this new adventure will provide all of us loyal listeners the opportunity to share in your love of radio, music, and discovery.

    will there be a podcast for all of us remote listeners?

    cheers Tom and know that you’ve made kcrw what it is today!

  • Irene

    Thank you, Tom! For all the wonderful shows, for sharing part of your spirit every single Sunday and making sunny LA sundays even brighter. Best of luck!!!

  • Patti McGuire

    Thank you for being a huge part of my KCRW experience all these years, for broadening my musical palette, and turning me on to so many great artists and songs! Looking forward to the new sonic adventures you will lead us through on RHYTHM PLANET! Much, much gratitude and every best wish ~

  • Ed

    I remember the mornings when Charlie Haden would guest deejay on your show. I’d often miss my first class of the day because I’d end up sitting in my car listening to you and Charlie instead. You’ve educated the musical tastes of a lot of us over the years. Good luck on this new venture. I look forward to the archival material and to new revelations, as well.

  • Mary

    Oh wow. I will miss your melodic voice and your sunday afternoon soundtracking. Just this afternoon I was remarking to myself how you are my Sunday! All things must change as life is a metamorphosis. Thank you for continued contribution to the fabric that is KCRW and Los Angeles and radio. . .

  • drew driftwood

    Since I was a student and DJ at LMU and KXLU I have been in awe of your programming. I used to listen to your MBE show on my commute to LMU in the late eigthies, often after a irie morning surf session in Redondo where I lived. Although I reside in Norcal now, since internet radio arrived I have kept you around. You have been a deep part of my Sunday routine for years and introduced me to so much epic material. Your ethnomusicological prowess ranks high in my book. (you and Charles Amerkanian (old school KPFA) rule!!). I was sort of shocked to hear it was your last show today, but stoked for your new direction, as I have kept abreast of rythym planet as well. I will continue to follow your groove. Thanks for the inspirational sounds amigo. See you in the water. -drew

    • tom schnabel

      hi Drew, really nice to read your words….feels very rewarding. thank you so much. glad to have made a difference……

      best wishes always…..


  • Michael Alderete

    Thanks Tom for sharing your knowlege and passion all these years. I’ll miss the live broadcasts and the archived shows but look forward to the online programming.

  • Mike Kaliher

    Thanks so much, Tom, for your rich contribution. I remember five of us kids trekking, barefoot and beflowered, over to KCRW at S.M.C.C. from our $35-a-month studio apartment west of the cemetery in 1967–our collection of mongrel dogs in tow–to thank the d.j. for playing Dave Van Ronk and Joni Mitchell. He looked startled when he opened the basement door of the zoology building to our ragged crew and the bright sunlight, but accepted our gratitude and gift of herbs with grace. A few decades later I rediscovered KCRW and your great programming while searching out radio for streaming. You've certainly left your mark on the station, a brought KCRW into the 21st century as a national, if not global, platform for the best music available. Congratulations.

  • Caryn Bosson

    I tuned in just as you were signing out today and had minutes before been thinking about how much I have appreciated your music selections. So it felt like serendipity to hear directly from you how I can still follow you even if you won't be hosting a live radio program. I can't imagine weekends without your voice on the radio, but all the more reason to tune into your online show, and to join the Rhythm Planet CD Club. Thank you for sharing so many gifts with us over the years.

  • Gene Antinier

    Tom — when I heard you signing-off today my wife and I looked at each other and wondered "Did he just say what I thought I heard him say?" David Wilcox confirmed it a few minutes later.

    You are an original and one-of-a-kind! That melodic voice of yours never ceases to bring a sense of well-being when you are on the air. I'll check you out on-line but I can't imagine it will be the same.

    As Barry White told you in an interview you had with him many years ago — "Tom, you're a beautiful human being."

  • Albert

    I will miss you on kcrw but will enjoy your new show.

    • tom schnabel

      thanks Albert!

  • David Tutton


    Om behalf of all your fans outside the States…..we will miss you! I came across your program quite by chance when flipping through stations on itunes radio about 7 years back, and since then have been a regular listener, whether living in France, Spain, Costa Rica, and now back in the UK.

    I love your warm, laidback tones that evoke the US West Coast for me, and above all your inspirational choice of music. I have discovered countless numbers of new artists from around the world that I would never heard of otherwise. I will, of course, listen to your Rhythm Planet program and look forward to hearing yet more gems from your back catalogue.



    PS – I do hope KCRW keep posting your playlists on KCRW Music Mine.

    • tom schnabel

      thank you David. It's nice to know your shows made a difference…I'll miss doing live radio on Sundays but I'll still have an online presence.

      best wishes to you,


    • Duff Moses

      Tom, I can't tell you how important you have been in my life and will miss you on air terribly. All things must pass but we don't have to like it. Most specifically my wife and I would like to thank you for turning us on to "sex" by the Necks.

      • tom schnabel

        yes, Sex…they didn't know what to call the 59' track, so they just called it Sex!!!! thanks!

  • kevin

    Tom, you're being gracious about this, but I get the feeling you're being squeezed out, and I'm ticked off. What, you're not young 'n' hip enough? Like we need more "indie rock" on KCRW. Feh.

    Maybe you can move over to KPFK, like the 'African Beat' crew did after they got the boot. Of course, I'll listen to your podcast, but I'll miss driving around on Sundays with your show coming over the car radio…

    • tom schnabel

      it must say it came as a surprise, but I've come to realize that the prevailing sound of kcrw has changed a lot since i was music director……….some may like it, some won't. I've always believed that music radio should be eclectic and feature a lot of different musical styles, genres, etc. I'll still have a role on the digital platform though!

      thanks for your words. best regards, Tom

  • PCC

    Tom, your weekend afternoon Cafe LA shows got me through design school homework sessions (I was taking classes at night, working during the day). It was the perfect music, just the right balance of relaxing and stimulating, unique and familiar. You introduced me to Fela, NIna, Cesaria and so many others.
    Best wishes as you continue to find ways to bring great music to the masses!

  • Ben Strother

    I’m Bummed that Tom Schnabel will not be on the air Sunday afternoons anymore. I’ve been a long time listener and wish Tom the best.

  • Thierry

    Tom, thank you so much for all the great music. In the 70's, I got to listen to John Peel and Marc Moulin on BBC and RTF resp., then to you as soon as I came to the US in 86… All of this shaped my nusical landscape for the better …. much better. Much gratitude and good luck.

  • Steve Freedman

    As a local from your era, I have enjoyed all of your shows since the beginning. I can say, without reservation, that you have been my favorite radio voice ever. Will check out your new endeavor. Also, miss seeing you in Venice.

  • Free at last! Free at last! Welcome to the world above ground.

  • Linda Cohen

    Dear Tom,
    Your programs have been the reason I listen to KCRW. The music you have introduced me to has been the inspiration for many dance classes that I teach. So you pass the music on to me, and I pass it on to my students in public schools, who have never heard these genres.
    Thanks and much success to you. Will be looking for your next venue.
    San Diego

  • leesa martling

    Ahh, I'll miss your radio presence. You helped me feel at home here in LA when I moved from SF in the mid 80's, and your steady voice the Sunday after 9/11 was invaluable. Not to mention the radio moments you've brought me most weekends since. Thanks Tom.

  • CarmenB

    I'll follow you anywhere! Thanks for all the great musical turn-ons !

  • alchemyRS

    Hi Tom, please explain the practical arrangements of your new format. Will it be in the form of a regular or irregular stream/podcast? How long will a podcast last – or will the time vary? When do you start? Thank you.


    I'm SO tired of the stupid / vapid popular music on KCRW ! ! !

    Ever since you left MBE, it has NEVER been worth listening to.
    After nearly 20 Years, I finally gave up on all hopes of having anything great and interesting to listen to on MBE anymore, except for that rare occasion, but for the frustration of wading through all the crap music, I decided to give all of KCRW up for only your show, and never again to worry about seeking great music again on KCRW during the week.

    Your Show on Sunday was the *Highlight* of my entire listening week.

  • disappointednventura

    i had to turn my radio up when i heard the news that you would be leaving KCRW, wanted to make sure i heard right. How disappointing, your show is one of the main reasons that i am a KCRW member. such a great personality, an enriching and informative show that shares music with your fans that we could not otherwise have exposure to, my friend you will be surely missed and such a great loss to KCRW.

  • Dana

    I found your show a few years ago, while discovering the joys of streaming radio and have been a devoted fan ever since. I looked forward to each new program with introductions to so many wonderful artists, and welcome reminders of others. You dependably brought a little bit of LA sunshine to this New Yorker. I'll truly miss your live show, but will look in on Rythym Planet. Best wishes for your next steps!

  • Evelyn Seubert

    Like all those above, I'm distraught that I can't catch you live on the weekends – my favorite part of KCRW. So now I'll bookmark your new show and follow your wonderful, gracious, insightful observations and spot-on music pix from around the world. Long may you prosper!

    • tom schnabel

      Thank you Evelyn. I appreciate it.

      best wishes,