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Behind the Mic: Allen Thayer


Saturday mornings on KMHD are made perfect with the myriad sounds of Brazil on The Brazilian Beat. Host Allen “The Ambassador” Thayer is one of the newest additions to the KMHD on-air lineup. We caught up with Allen to learn a little more about his life outside of KMHD.

How did you first get into radio? 

I first got into radio in college but at the time it was closed circuit campus radio only, WGTB Georgetown. Years earlier the administration sold the school’s signal for $1 because they didn’t like the music and politics of the station. Since then, I DJed for a stint at KZSU Stanford doing a show called “The Soul Spectrum” and XRAY.FM for nine months on Sunday mornings hosting the Brazilian show, “The Rio Deal.”

What would surprise people most about what you do in your personal life? 

This IS my personal life. Usually the fact that I obsess about, write about, collect and DJ Brazilian music is the left-field zinger in workplace getting to know you conversations. It’s usually followed by silence or, “You mean, like, ‘The Girl from Ipanema?’”

When you aren’t listening to the music you play on KMHD, what are you tuned into? 

I love soul, funk, jazz, rap, and I have a soft spot for hippie country music.

Tell us about an interesting hobby you have. 

Not only do I listen to, collect and share my Brazilian records, I’ve been writing about Brazilian music (and soul, funk, jazz, etc.) for Wax Poetics magazine for many years. Chances are if you read something about Brazilian music in that magazine, it was mine.

Here’s a link to some of the articles that also exist online. I will also have a book coming out soon about the Brazilian soul man, Tim Maia, as part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series.

Where do you live and what are some of your favorite neighborhood spots? 

I was born and raised in Portland before living on the East Coast and abroad. Now I live in Creston-Kenilworth in SE Portland. Shout out to Gladstone St. Pizza, Shut Up and Eat, and Clinton Street Record and Stereo.

If you could bring someone back to life from jazz history and hang out with them for an afternoon, who would it be and why? 

He’s actually not dead yet, but for all intents and purposes João Gilberto, the “Pope of Bossa Nova,” is unreachable and I don’t think he’s performed live in recent years. He could just sit there quietly and that would be enough, or play a private concert for my family. I can’t complain though, because I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to hang out with his old partner in crime, João Donato, whom I can already predict will be the artist most referenced on my show.

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