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ArtsWatch welcomes Dmae Roberts

The veteran broadcaster and writer brings her podcast "Stage & Studio" to ArtsWatch starting Feb. 23.

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Dmae Roberts, one of Oregon’s leading arts and cultural voices, is joining Oregon ArtsWatch. Roberts, a writer, theater artist, and two-time Peabody Award-winning radio producer, will move her biweekly podcast Stage & Studio to ArtsWatch beginning February 23.

“We are so honored to become the new home for Dmae Roberts and her Stage & Studio audio show,” Barry Johnson, ArtsWatch’s executive editor, said. “Her journalism around theater and social justice issues has changed the culture of Portland in significant and enduring ways, and we have been inspired by her energy, creativity, intelligence, and commitment. I welcome her and her listeners to ArtsWatch. I’m sure we will do some amazing things together.” 

Dmae Roberts

The alliance helps move ArtsWatch into new journalistic territory. Roberts, a savvy and insightful interviewer, will help ArtsWatch expand its mostly written coverage to include regular podcast offerings as well. Her expertise will be extraordinarily helpful as other podcasters eventually join the fold.

Roberts began Stage & Studio, which is now hosted by KBOO-FM community radio, 23 years ago, and has interviewed more than 1,000 artists over that time. Among recent guests on the program have been S. Renee Mitchell, the poet, performer, organizer, and former columnist for The Oregonian; theater director and actor Damaris Webb, co-founder of The Vanport Mosaic; Iranian American theater artist Melory Mirashrafi; and Portland blues singer LaRhonda Steele.

“I’m looking forward to working with ArtsWatch on future projects,” Roberts said in a prepared statement. “Combined, (ArtsWatch’s editors) bring the greatest wealth of art experience in Oregon. I am honored to find such a welcoming new home.”

Roberts’ move will also strengthen ArtsWatch’s commitment to telling stories from all cultures. Her projects with ArtsWatch will be, in her words, “especially focused on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) artists and arts.” Her “extensive broadcast journalism, arts and multicultural expertise makes Stage & Studio a topical program that will encourage public discussions and views on the arts and the issues it raises.”

Roberts is well-positioned to do all of that. A Taiwanese-born biracial Asian-American who’s lived in Oregon since she was 10, she’s won two Peabody Awards, radio’s version of the Oscars or Tonys. The first was for her documentary Mei Mei, a Daughter’s Song, the story of her mother’s childhood in Taiwan during World War II. The second was for Crossing East, an eight-hour documentary that was public radio’s first series on Asian American history. In addition, she’s won two Drammy Awards for excellence in Portland theater: one as a performer, the other for her play Picasso in the Back Seat, which also won an Oregon Book Award. Roberts’ memoir The Letting Go Trilogies: Stories of a Mixed-Race Family was published in 2016.

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Roberts continues as executive producer of the nonprofit multicultural production organization MediaRites. She’s also co-founder of the adventurous Theatre Diaspora, which produces Asian American/Pacific Islander plays. And she created the Crossing East Archive, which includes more than 200 hours of broadcast-quality interviews and oral histories with Asian American/Pacific Islander people. Her newest play, co-written with Don Wilson Glenn – Troy, USA, a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, produced by Bag&Baggage – will debut January 31 as part of the 2021 virtual Fertile Ground festival of new works.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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