Derek Smith is a music-lover extraordinaire and host of The Morning Session, Monday through Friday from 7-10 AM, the show that helps you get out of bed on the good foot. We sat down with Derek to learn a little more about the man behind the mic.
How did you first get into radio?
Portland serendipity brought me into the radio fold. Five years ago, I began gigging as a freelance vinyl DJ. About the same time I was hired to do the sound design for Portland Playhouse’s production of August Wilson’s “Radio Golf.” I scored the production using jazz and soul and acted as a live DJ during intermission. On the final performance of an eight-week run, a charming woman from the audience offered me her card and told me I should be on the radio. That woman was former KMHD DJ Marcia Hocker. A few months later, I found myself doing my first radio show on KMHD. I still pinch myself some mornings.
What would surprise people most about what you do in your personal life?
Hmmm. Not sure. It might surprise people that I love to run. I’ve been a long distance runner for over twenty years. It might also surprise people that I can be deadly from beyond the arc.
When you aren’t listening to the music you play on KMHD what are you tuned into?
My love for music is of the wide-screen variety so I am listening to all kinds of sounds. Here are a few platters that have been on the turntable as of late.
1) Damon Albarn – “Everyday Robots”
2) Caribou – “Our Love”
3) Lee Dorsey – “Ride That Pony”
4) Aim – “Hinterland”
5) Beastie Boys – “The In Sound From Way Out”
6) Soul Jazz Records presents – “Studio One Ironsides”
Tell us about an interesting hobby you have.
Serious crate digger. I buy a lot of records. Buy them. Sell them. Gift them. I love making a point to find the record store in a new town or city and buying a piece of vinyl that will always remind me of that visit. A year ago, I was in Las Vegas and found an amazing jazz record, Curtis Amy’s “Katanga.” I’d rather think about that album than all the money I lost.
Where do you live and what are some of your favorite neighborhood spots?
North Portland. Sadly, some of my spots are being turned into condos. Don’t get me started. Handsome Pizza was a go to. Podnah’s Pit, Beech Street Parlor, Yorgo’s, Arbor Lodge Park, The Overlook Bluffs, Cherry Sprout Produce, Mississippi Records, Beacon Sound. My absolute favorite spot is when I am perched on the seat of my Metrofiets cargo bike, taking in the city one revolution at a time.
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?
It would have to be Charles Mingus. I named my son after him so there you go. It would have to be him because music has been saving my life since I was a kid and his songs always seemed to pull me up the highest.