Jamaica Gleaner Online
'The Beat' stops
Roger Steffens, owner of the largest Bob Marley memorabilia in the world, at the opening of Queen Mary exhibit of his 'World of Reggae' archives in February 2001. - Photo courtesy of Roger Steffens' Reggae Archives
The Beat magazine out of Los Angeles, which showcased the reggae and world beat scene for nearly 30 years, has ceased publication.
In a statement dated December 20, CC Smith, the magazine's minister of information, cited economic challenges and the transformation of the literary landscape as the main reasons for its closure.
"The Beat was unique and it is really a miracle it survived as long as it did. But the precipitous decline in the music business, publishing business and the economy has finally caught up with us," Smith said.
The Beat was founded in 1982 as 'Reggae Beat' by reggae historian Roger Steffens and operated throughout as a bi-monthly with a volunteer staff that included Smith. Its initial name came from the Los Angeles radio programme Steffens hosted.
Steffens and Smith were largely responsible for the first edition of The Beat in May 1982. It covered LA's Bob Marley day activities that month, and for its duration reported extensively on the reggae festival scene in southern California.
World beat performers
The Beat also covered world beat performers including Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade of Nigeria and Ladysmith Black Mambazo of South Africa. Among its popular annual features was a Bob Marley Collectors Edition.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Steffens commented on The Beat's departure from magazine stands. "To me, seeing The Beat fade away after 28 years is very sad, but I suppose inevitable. We are witnessing the collapse of print media of all kinds today, swept away on the slippery slope of virtuality," Steffens said.
Internet edition. "Many people have suggested taking The Beat online to save it, but the support is just not there," she said.
She stated that another factor contributed to the decision not to carry on. "The music, reggae in particular, has changed so much since the early days when it was new, fun and inspiring. There is so much less to say about it now."