Jewish music buff airs her ardor in weekly radio show

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Searching in vain for Jewish music on the radio? Tune in to Lois Kellerman's show. To her knowledge, it's the only one of its kind in the Bay Area.

"Fostering Jewish pride and connection through Jewish music is my goal," said Kellerman, whose show can be heard Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon on Stanford University radio station KZSU, at 90.1 FM.

Broadcasting as Sarah Bellum, a stage name she picked for fun, Kellerman plays a wide variety of Jewish music, including klezmer. "I want to get more Jews connected to this popular Jewish music revival," said Kellerman, who lives in Mountain View.

Featured local bands include Hassidic New Wave Band of the East Bay, which opened at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco on Israel Independence Day this year; Masada, with saxophonist John Zorn of San Francisco; Davka, which plays world music; Za'Atar, noted for Mizrahi songs; and Side by Side, a female singing group.

Looking for talent beyond the Bay Area, she might air tunes by Yid Vicious of the Midwest or the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars and Boston's Klezmer Conservatory Band.

Many local Israelis tune in to the mix of music, which also includes Mideastern, Ladino and Moroccan selections.

Palo Alto Hadassah member Aliza Geller met Kellerman, who has spent more than a year and a half in Israel, during an event at the Mountain View Performing Arts Center. Intrigued, she listened to the program and became a regular fan.

"Many of our group listen to the beautiful music being played," said Geller. "It is wonderful to have this culture brought to us locally. We are very supportive."

Said Kellerman: "I try to reach out not only to Stanford students but to all Jewish audiences of the Bay Area."

She does public service announcements for various Jewish organizations and informs listeners of Jewish musical events throughout the Bay Area. She is seeking community underwriting and sponsorship for the program.

Kellerman's show fulfills a longtime interest in radio. "I listened to the radio all the time, growing up."

A native New Yorker from a Conservative background, she did her under-graduate work at State University of New York and holds a master's degree from Princeton in statistics. Currently, she works as a statistical consultant to the pharmaceutical industry.

When she first moved to the West Coast, Kellerman said, "being from New York and being Jewish, I sort of was keeping a low profile." That's no longer the case. Now, "when people ask 'what kind of music do you play' [on your show] I say, 'Jewish music!'"

KZSU program director Douglas Miller is pleased. "We want to have a creative, varied program schedule," he said. "We want original material that won't be heard at other stations.

"A few people had contacted me about featuring Jewish music. Lois put this idea into action." The program has been a service to the local community and students, he added, and will continue on a regular basis.

The station is supported partially by student-activity fees and local businesses. It can be heard on the Peninsula from San Mateo to San Jose, and in the East Bay from Fremont to Oakland. It features mainly public-affairs programming, broadcasts local-community activities and many Stanford sporting events.