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NW Life | Music

Behind the Mic: John Church

Anywhere But Here, Wednesdays 9-11pm

On Wednesday nights, John Church brings you Anywhere But Here – KMHD’s vintage world music show. The program focuses on sounds from around the world, created by musicians inspired by jazz. John’s keen programming style provides a glimpse of how jazz “acclimates” folkloric sounds via improvisation and feeling. We caught up with John to learn a little more about the man behind the mic.

How did you first get into radio?

This is my first radio show. It’s the result of an ongoing conversation with The Morning Session host, Derek Smith. He and I were in a mixtape sharing group a number of years ago and he knew of my interest in sounds from abroad. We got to talking again last year and he approached me with the idea of joining the team at KMHD. 

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

I’m bilingual. I’ve been studying Spanish since I was fourteen. Compared to other mandatory subjects in high school, it had immediate practical application. I could use it to communicate with my friends, their relatives and my co-workers. I finished with a BA from Southern Oregon University and have been using it to connect with others at work, locally and abroad ever since. 

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

I love rap and hip hop. Most of the new artists I hear in this field come via friend recommendations these days. On the current end of the spectrum, I’m feeling Vince Staples, Anderson .Paak and Archie Marshall. I’m also really into techno and other genres of electronic music.

Tell us about an interesting hobby you have.

I’m a pretty big basketball enthusiast. I’ve been playing Tuesday nights for 10-plus years now with the Friendship Basketball Guild. I watch the Blazers when I can but, without a TV at home, we end up catching a lot of radio coverage with Wheels on the play-by-play. I’m also a hobbyist beat producer. 

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

I’m back in Southeast after 10-plus years in North Portland. So much has changed here and there’s so much to explore. I’ve been putting in runs and walks at Mt. Tabor and Laurelhurst. I’m on a never-ending quest for excellent chocolate chip cookies and Crema and Roman Candle have the goods. We also frequent Dick’s Kitchen, Wolf & Bear’s and Dove Vivi. 

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?

Fela Anikulapo Kuti. I imagine there’d be much wisdom to absorb in an afternoon spent with him.  

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