Rhythm Planet is a blog written by Tom Schnabel to bring readers the wealth of stories and thoughts that abound in his years of experience. He began producing radio for KCRW in 1977. During his tenure as Music Director (l979-1990), KCRW grew from an obscure college station to become the biggest public station in the US, serving as an influential taste-maker for new and unusual music. He developed the eclectic music format and introduced World Music to public radio. During this time KCRW twice won the College Media Journal’s “Best Noncommercial Station” award (1986, 1989). Schnabel resigned his position as music director in 1990 to broaden his career as a record producer, music consultant, and teacher.
In addition to KCRW, Schnabel has taught world music and other courses at UCLA Extension and the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He consults on world music with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, (NARAS), as well as producing world music CD’s: Trance Planet, 5 volumes. (Triloka Records) and Quango World: Voices (Quango/Island). Recently he’s worked as a consultant on the Palm Pictures/National Geographic series, Palm World Voices.
Schnabel has written extensively about music for various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Jazz Magazine (France), Cashbox, Down Beat. Esquire. Buzz, and LA Style. He’s authored two books: Stolen Moments: Conversations with Contemporary Musicians (Acrobat Books 1988). and Rhythm Planet:The Great World Music Makers(Universe/Rizzoli. l998).
Music consulting for film includes work on Ground Hog Day, the Brazilian film, O Quatrilho and Dinosaur. Schnabel was also Music Supervisor of John Sayles’ Spanish-language feature film, Men with Guns.
He continues to work as music supervisor for ads and film. Schnabel also enjoy deejaying various events around the city, mixing hip hop, soul, and tropical music into a tasty dance.
In July l998, Schnabel was honored by the French Ministry of Culture with the prestigious French Medal of Arts, “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Des Lettres,” for his work in furthering knowledge of world music in America. He’s also been awarded several citations from the City and County of Los Angeles.
Tom Schnabel has served as Program Director of World Music at the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall. In that capacity he helped inaugurate and direct KCRW’s successful World Festival series, featuring top artists like Thievery Corporaton, Willie Nelson, Gotan Project, Zero 7, Gilberto Gil, A.R. Rahman, Carlinhos Brown, Youssou N’Dour, the Buena Vista Social Club, Cesaria Evora, Femi Kuti, Baaba Maal, and countless others. The Walt Disney Concert Hall series has featured Ravi Shankar, Miriam Makeba, Alison Krauss, Osvaldo Golijov, Gustavo Santaolalla, and other top artists.