Jamming with Jamison

Photo by Quinn Kennelly
Quinn Kennelly, Ted 1
Photo by Quinn Kennelly

By Caleb Diehl /// Managing Editor

As Ted Jamison (‘15) swivels in his office chair, enclosed by two microphones, all eyes are on him. He is preparing for the next segment of his KLC radio show, Album of the Week, like Captain Kirk, or an air traffic controller, or a crazed hacker genius. Co-Host Joseph Arzt (’15) suggests Jamison might empathize with Stuart Murdoch, the track star who came down with chronic fatigue syndrome before starting music group Belle and Sebastian. Jamison saw a Youtube video of him, and noticed, “he bounces. He’s a bouncy man.”

For emphasis, Jamison flourishes his arm, finishing in a flick of the wrist and an upward thrust of the index finger. We’re back on the air in 12 seconds.

11, 10, 9…Jamison counts down.

He builds his life around counting seconds. Minutes before the show, he was running to catch a meeting of the Brazilian Club. “I live vicariously through cross country runners,” he said. “Let’s go with this extended metaphor: Every day for me is a race against the clock.”

Jamison wakes at 6:30 a.m., begins class at 8 a.m., works at College Outdoors and Evans Music Center, composes verse for slam poetry competitions with Apocalips, plays in the orchestra, writes a column on cassette tapes for The Pioneer Log and submits album and live show reviews to Music Connection magazine back home in L.A. He’s the publication’s “Portland dude.” Lately, he’s taken up knitting, and launching Communicate Now, a monthly music zine he and Arzt produce with Photoshop, Watzek scanners and print balances. Before printing, Jamison stays up until 3 a.m. writing what he calls his “stream of consciousness,” a column that’s “loosely music plus social analysis.” To complete the whole “guerilla operation,” the DJ’s drop copies on the floor of Case Study Coffee and Powell’s.

“I try to find any source I can to do something real, instead of just learning,” Jamison said. “Instead of intake and mental processing, it’s coming out and doing something tangible, something that’s perhaps a craft.”

For reviews, Jamison doesn’t take the fast track to a polished draft. He’ll listen to an album 10 to 15 times before hitting the keyboard. Then without taking the music from his ears, he lists general impressions before launching into a song-by-song analysis.

In a feature for Music Connection, Jamison recalls the old days of college radio, before blogs replaced zines. New bands used to test tracks out at the campus station, hoping for a spot on the DJs’ top charts. “That was the frontline for getting stuff heard,” Jamison said. “Now it’s not as valid a venue for cutting-edge music.”

Jamison grew up in the San Fernando Valley outside L.A. His parents loved musical theater and gave him his first taste of music—showtunes. He learned to play bass in fourth grade. Throughout middle school, he said, “Green Day dominated my life.” At Lewis & Clark, where “everybody’s into something,” peers educated him. Don’t just think The Ramones when you think punk rock, they said. Look at what came before.

At other times, college has left Jamison numb. He chose ethnomusicology over a music major because it seemed more practical to mix music with anthropology. Still, between classes he sifts through 50 to 100 pages of abstractions.

That doesn’t stop him from dredging up articles on musicology from JSTOR and EBSCO Host. Midway through Album of the Week, Jamison analyzes Billboard Magazine’s interview with Geoff Barrow, an “analog dude” who harkens back to the day when producers worked with orchestras instead of synthesizers.

Now, Jamison has reached of the show. He’s discussed the reviewers and all their “pretentiousity,” given a shout out to the third place barista in the Northwest Regional competition, and executed “the flip,” a nod to the broken KLC record player at his side (Arzt clanged two water bottles together to fool listeners, before playing the next digital track).

Jamison and Dylan Stringer (‘15) came up with Album of the week, and the flip, freshmen year, before Arzt joined the show and before Jamison learned to “respect the album as a cohesive unit.” They were bitter at not being able to play the vinyl collection in KLC, where “everything’s always broken.”

Now they just pretend. Jamison reaches beneath his drained REI Nalgene. Here is the record player in its coffee-colored case, here the silver latch. Here is something real.

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