Doug Paterson, KUOW studio engineer and East African music enthusiast, dies at 72

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KUOW lost one of its own this month. Doug Paterson was a trusted sound engineer at the station for nearly 20 years. His behind-the-scenes work has made much of what you’ve heard on the radio possible. He was 72 years old.

Doug was known for his meticulous manner and for his love of East African music. In 1985, while teaching in Kenya, he met his wife Annah at a live concert.

“He was just the white person in the crowd,” Annah recalled. “All the others were of Kenyan origin. He thought it was so funny because I was dancing with everyone. He came to talk to me and asked me where I was from.

Doug invited her to lunch, and eventually they got married.

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Four years later, in 1989, the couple moved to Seattle with their daughter, Salome, and soon Doug found himself working at two radio stations. At KUOW, he was a production engineer. And at KBCS, a public radio station in Bellevue, he was the co-host of the show African music.

Jon Kertzer, who co-founded the show with Doug in the early 1990s, said Doug was one of the foremost experts on popular East African music in the United States.

“He is one of the most eminent compilers and people who write about music,” Kertzer said. “He introduced this music to a wide range of people.”


caption: Doug Paterson, wearing the hat, second from right, in a rock band when he was young.  They were called

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Doug was a trained cultural anthropologist who would later work with East African record labels and musicians to create compilation notes, with Doug writing detailed liner notes. He wanted to preserve the music, and also help it reach as many people as possible.

“He learned Swahili, and of course his wife was from Kenya, so he was able to translate the lyrics and make people understand what the songs were about,” Kertzer said.

At KUOW, Doug’s ability to design live shows made a love of music possible. The show Day of the week, with host Steve Scher, often relied on him. Steve hosted the show for two decades and worked closely with Doug on many events.

“We had Macklemore, and one of the songs they did was with the whole band – five, six people. Two vocals, then the setup for guitar and drums,” Steve recalls.

“At the end, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis both said, ‘Doug, that was beautiful,’ and Doug said, ‘Yeah, that was pretty good. But then, when it was over and they left, Doug said, “But I’m just going to tweak the post-production a bit, because I think I can do a little better.”

Video: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, with Ray Dalton

Live on KUOW’s “Weekday”, broadcast on 09/01/2012. (You can see Doug at 2:10.)

Doug retired from KUOW at the end of 2016. Before that, he trained Tim Meinig to take his place.

“When I think of him, it’s Doug’s smile. It’s just like – eeeee – you know, it’s like, he was so smart, and he could have done anything. That’s the Dr. Doug Paterson He’s a teacher and a learner, and he’s always been that way.

Two things come up when we talk about Doug: his kindness and his generosity.

“He helped my family with everything they needed,” Annah said. “We educate the children. He changed so many lives.

When asked what Doug liked the most, Annah smiled.

“He loved me. He loved his family. He loved music. He loved African music. He cares about his friends so much. And the list goes on.”

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