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KRCL's Ebay Jamil Hamilton

Ebay Jamil Hamilton lets the music take control.

By Jon Paxton
Posted // August 5,2009 - KRCL 90.9’s Ebay Jamil Hamilton has been feeling retrospective of late, contemplating big thoughts about life and death.

“When I find myself at that last moment, I want to have as many pictures as possible to take with me. I don’t want the next five years of my life to be like my first five: empty, with some really cute sunshine scenes. I want some magical moments,” Hamilton smiles.

Hamilton is widely known for his welcoming nature, a genial attitude well-suited for his position as KRCL’s music director. Some may only be familiar with his 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. show on the local community radio station, but Hamilton has been a fixture on Salt Lake City’s music scene for some time, beginning with his opening spot for Naughty by Nature in 1995.

“I stood in one spot and was frozen for the bulk of it,” the 32-year old Utah native uncomfortably recalls. “That was the first time I realized I was semi-decent at it,” he says unabashedly, charting his music performance career as his confidence—and chops—increased, “I’ve opened for a ton of bands since then Blackalicious, Digable Planets, Black Eyed Peas, The Alkoholics.” Hamilton isn’t bragging—just stating the facts, as he does again in explaining how disgruntled some people were with the shift from KRCL’s old format to its new one. “Early on, I saw some really ugly sides of people and I had never been that criticized before. To have ‘RIP KRCL’ stickers, I thought, ‘This hurts. This sucks,’” he says with a shake of his head. “I’m just trying to make sure KRCL succeeds. Period.”

Hamilton didn’t think he would have a shot at becoming music director during the weekday format transition more than a year ago but he reasoned that he would give KRCL further options by applying for the paid position. It was a rather abrupt change going from his 17 years of volunteering to full-time employment, though. “I went from playing Erykah Badu on Friday night to playing Led Zeppelin on a Friday afternoon. Maybe it was questionable initially if I were sincere,” he pauses then shakes his head at the ridiculousness of that.

“The average radio listener listens 15, 30 minutes a day. They’re tuning in to hear a particular sound, which was the point of the change,” Hamilton explains. “It wasn’t to get rid of a certain style of music. It wasn’t to change the general sound. It was to make it consistent.”

The station hasn’t drastically changed, though, he says. “We don’t have meetings about what record to play and if it will appeal to 18-year-old women. If it’s good, it’s going on the radio—maybe that same day. That’s what we did before; it’s what we’re doing now.” More than a music source, the station also serves as a vital communication tool for the community, “If something’s going on—a PSA [Public Service Announcement]—we read it on air,” Hamilton says. “We’ll let people know if there’s going to be free HIV testing all this week—and these are important things people need to hear about. And we don’t have to bother with selling advertising space.” KRCL’s success has increased and the community support has reflected that with rising interest in what gets spun.

“The reason what we’re doing is working right now is because, sure, you’re still going to go to the same retail sources you usually go to for music, but when you get to the front page of iTunes you’ve already heard a good chunk on KRCL,” Hamilton says. “Radio should be doing right now what it did in the first place: introducing people to new music,” which Hamilton has recently done himself by making a new record with local producer/MC Fisch (Rotten Musicians) for a group they call Julio Child. Their first album is called Cocinado con Julio Child (Cooking with Julio Child) and, while you won’t hear Hamilton play it on air, it is excellent.

It doesn’t sound like a tough gig, but trying to stay abreast of new artists and styles can be wearing on the ears. Hamilton still loves it as much as he did as a 13-year-old intern editing mounds of unheard vinyl for radio play. “My favorite thing is still the big hunt,” Hamilton reveals, “the big search for the next cool-ass record.” To save some time on your own hunt, Ebay set his iPod on random and recorded the results—hopefully they’ll give you some of those magical moments, as well.


David Crosby “Tamalpais High”?If I Could Only Remember My Name
I’ve always loved Crosby’s voice. “Tamalpais High” is a good example of how impressive his melodies and vocal phrasings really are. Plus he’s being backed by The Grateful Dead on this wordless tune. I highly recommend this album for any road trip.


Bon Iver “Flume” For Emma, Forever Ago
I can listen to this album anytime of day, any day of the week. Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver, put out one of the best albums of the past few years! It’s beautiful, dreamy, haunting and very soulful. This is one of those times where it’s OK to believe the hype.


Mitch Hedberg “Belt” Do You Believe in Gosh
Mitch was not a musician but he was a very funny dude and one of my favorite comedians ever. I have two of his albums on my iPod and I listen to them often. It was no secret that Mitch had a drug-abuse problem, “I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too” Mitch Hedberg passed away from a drug overdose March 29, 2005.


Donny Hathaway “The Ghetto” Live
You’ve got Stevie, Otis, Marvin, Sam, Ray, Marvin, Prince ... and then you’ve got Donny [who released] only three solo studio albums, one soundtrack, two live albums, a handful of singles and some great duets with Roberta Flack. Sadly Donny died at 33, with a death draped in mystery. Some say suicide, others say murder, either way he left this world too soon. “The Ghetto” was his first single, and this live version is a testament to Donny’s greatness.


Chet Baker “It Could Happen To You” It Could Happen To You
Chet Baker is best known for his chops on the trumpet, but he also had an amazing voice. His vocal version of “My Funny Valentine” is almost as common on Valentine’s Day as a box of cheap chocolates & having no date. Check out the entire album from 1958 for a good dose of “feel good”.

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Posted // August 18,2009 at 20:31

Krcl sucks now. I can't listen to it in the day at all. It just sucks.


Posted // August 19,2009 at 16:01 - Realist: I'd like to see behind your mask and see why you have such an inherent bias against KRCL, I think all readers of this thread would. This wasn't an investigative journalism piece, for the record. It is a profile on a local musician and radio personality––if that is "fluff" then so be it. Criticizing my writing doesn't do anything but make you look like more and more of a cynic (big difference between a realist and that). Those people are never happy and I'm sorry for you with every additional word your sad internet persona writes. For the record, I personally think KRCL is successful, just not in the way you are defining it. As someone who works in radio (I started back in 2002) I respect KRCL's success on different levels, probably ones you don't understand not being "in the industry". I definitely don't want to and can't take back what I wrote, PARAPHRASING Ebay, in print. For the record, If I was writing just opinion the piece would have been drastically different. Something along the lines of: "KRCL is the shit. They spin some cutting edge music you won't find on any other station in Utah and do a big favor to people that might never get a chance to hear something besides top 40 radio. They have artistically broken new ground in the radio community in Utah and need to get awards and large sums of money from the entire non-comm community." A bit less "professional" but my work gets edited by Jamie Gadette so I'm sure she wouldn't really like it if I used that kind of language. It really is a special station that should be recognized, as it is more often than it is detracted from. If you don't like it go make your own station––a far better move to actually back up your griping. I'd be curious if you actually do have your own competing station...but I wouldn't be able to tell that from your profile. Unless you'd like to unmask yourself, "realist" I really don't want to continue trying to explain why a local station like KRCL, with its new format, is still important to your community. We're obviously butting heads on this one and you have an agenda against City Weekly's style (which rubbed off on me, of all people! haha) and KRCL––maybe Ebay himself. I don't think I could ever come to an understanding with an anonymous blogger on the net so I invite you to contact me anytime for coffee and a chat in person! The coffee's on me.


Posted // August 16,2009 at 16:57

Hey readers!

Regardless of what you both think, and, I might add––that you are probably not alone, I'm glad people are still passionate about radio and the media.

If you're both really interested in being heard, though, I reccommend you get some good mouthpieces and not just stop at commentary on the internet. Get out there in your community, make your own stations, and let your version of success come to you.

Thanks for your patronage of City Weekly, regardless, and keep thinking about the media critically.

I will add a small caveat, this piece is not devoid of any fact, Realist. Be careful when anonymously blogging and trying to engage in adult rhetoric to not use buzzwords and phrases heard on cable "news/argument" shows. It can weaken your case when you try to discount everything your "opponent" is saying.

Also, I never said that KRCL was successful. Ebay's opion is that it is succeeding and I accurately reported that. I didn't necessarily say how that was measured; did I state anything about ratings, or fundraising goals (the current economy also needs to be brought up if we are to discuss decreasing funds given to non-comm stations but this forum is too small for that)? That is not the only way to define success in radio, especially non-comm radio. Read a bit more carefully, friend.


Posted // October 6,2009 at 19:28 - I stumbled back here Mr. Paxton - just read your invite. One of my points was the fact that I thought that I had "made my own station" it was KRCL. I along with any number of long time members that gave cash, time, and talent. The nice facilities were not provided by the CPB Grant money, nor the board's current "target audience". Thanks again for your invite. Anonymously blogging is better than any opportunity that the KRCL board provided members and listeners prior to the change.


Posted // August 18,2009 at 12:45 - Oh, you didn't write... "KRCL’s success has increased and the community support has reflected that"? Looks like you did. Still it's a fluff piece anyway you spin it. I read it very carefully. You clearly cannot take the criticism. Maybe writing isn't your thing...


Posted // August 16,2009 at 06:59

I respect Ebay and his hard work. I respect everyone's hard work at KRCL over the years. Nobody can convince me that the format change to a station that lived by the "anti-big brother" mantra was anything more than a personal choice made by an elite few. Ugly side vs. the Passion that was a KRCL listener, you make the call Ebay & co. You can have the last laugh when ratings blow up and you reach a new section of the community that you didn't reach before. Meanwhile I miss starting my car and hearing radio with language completely foreign, music that is unique, and shows/hosts that were as important to me as any friend. Passion amigo - it's what is lacking in the ecclectic new krCl. The KRCL community "pimped your ride" and then the board sold it to a collector.


Posted // August 13,2009 at 10:50

KRCL’s success has increased?? “The reason what we’re doing is working"??? If by success Paxton means fewer listeners, smaller market share and less donations from KRCL's radiothon fundraier, then hell yeah, lots of success. All the numbers are down (unless you ask KRCL) Nice fluff piece, devoid of any fact.