New hosts join weekly radio show
By DEBORAH MOON
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Portland’s Yiddish Hour has three new co-hosts—Ed Kraus, Liz Schwartz and Barry Lavine.
Yiddish Hour airs on KBOO 90.7 FM radio every Sunday from 10 to 11 a.m. Launched in 1979 by Jack Falk, the show has brought Jewish music and culture to Portland’s airwaves for 30 years.
“I’m so glad to see the show continuing in able hands,” said Falk, the show’s producer. “The radio audience gets served and I need a breather after 30 years of contributing my weekends.”
Falk has stepped back from the show, but his wife Reva continues to take one shift each month when she is in town. She said once a month is easy after all the weekends she’s been on the air over the past 30 years.
“I held the fort down during his (Jack Falk’s) first trip to Budapest in 1981 and I had three teenagers,” said Reva Falk.
A long-time Portland and international Klezmer musician, Falk said for the past several years his playing locally has been “with friends in various configurations.” He said he has played with all of the new co-hosts.
He said when he tunes in to the Yiddish Hour now, “It’s nice to hear how they approach the music.”
Schwartz said that each of the new hosts brings their own interests to the show. She said she enjoys Sephardic music and traditional Yiddish theater, but said she doesn’t think any of the three “can be pigeonholed in terms of taste.”
Kraus noted all three have listened to the show for many years and were familiar with the format.
Lavine said he had never been behind a mic before and was glad that KBOO has such a rigorous training program. “I was pleasantly surprised by how many hoops they insisted we get through.”
The three hosts urge listeners to send potential announcements and suggestions for the show to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also visit the show’s Web page at KBOO.FM/PortlandYiddishHour, which streams the show live when it is on the air.
They also urged listeners who call in during the Oct. 1-17 KBOO membership drive to ask that their membership be counted towards support of the Yiddish Hour.
“We are Portland’s best-kept Jewish secret,” said Schwartz of the Yiddish Hour. “The Arbitron ratings (similar to Neilson ratings for TV) shows an average of 5,000 listeners each week—that’s really great for a niche show.”
“Having the mike is a privilege and we all take it seriously,” she said.
Lavine added, “Our mission is to provide fun entertainment.”
Kraus said the show serves a dual purpose. “Yiddish Hour serves as glue and Yiddishkeit for the Jewish community and is a world music show serving the greater Portland area.”
“We all love the music and want to provide a place for other people to get exposed,” he added.
NEW HOST BIOS
Elizabeth Schwartz has been making music in Portland’s Jewish community for 20 years. She moved to Portland in 1989; the following year she joined a group of musicians at Havurah Shalom to provide liturgical music for High Holiday services. She leads music for Havurah’s Friday night services. In the late 1990s, she joined the Havurah-based band Vermisht Nussen (Mixed Nuts) as singer and percussionist, along with Ed Kraus and Barry Lavine. The group performed for many of Havurah’s holiday and b’nai mitzvah celebrations, as well as those in the larger Portland Jewish community.
In addition to performance, Schwartz is also a freelance writer, researcher and former music teacher. She is the program annotator for the Oregon Symphony and has also contributed to NPR’s nationally syndicated classical music show, “Performance Today,” (now heard on American Public Media).
Barry Lavine has lived in Portland since 1977.
“I was introduced to klezmer music by a family friend, who gave me a copy of ‘Kammen Book 1’ in the mid-1960s. I still have it, yellowed and worn,” said Lavine.
“While still in high school, I was fortunate to have as a mentor a klezmer clarinetist from New York, who had moved to Elmira to work at the local JCC. He had me playing “Belz, mein shtetele Belz” long before I understood that the world that had produced that music had been largely wiped out.”
Although his primary work is doing database design and programming as an independent consultant, he said his chief pleasure is accompanying the Rose Schnitzer Manor choir, every Monday afternoon at 2.
Ed Kraus is active at Havurah Shalom (see Schwartz bio above for details), Congregation Neveh Shalom and Gesher.
“I’ve been making music since the fifth grade, playing musicals and jazz bands as a teenager, then went to school for a BA in clarinet performance. Being a symphony player never worked out (what was I thinking) and after a while I put the instruments away, until recently that is. Now I’m part of what we like to call the house band at Cedar Sinai Park.”