MADISON—Ted Putnam, aka legendary Madison, Wis., DJ “Ted Offensive,” died in his sleep on Nov. 22, 2017. Edward Dillaway Putnam was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964 and grew up there and in San Francisco, where he was Student of the Year at Mission High School. While attending San Francisco State University he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident which radically changed the course of his life.
Ted was all about music from a very early age, starting his record collection with a Led Zeppelin album at age five. He was trained as a classical flutist and later played the flute in his own rock band – Last Laugh – in the 1980s. In 1986 he helped to form Club Komotion, a cutting-edge painting-photography-music collaborative in San Francisco. In 1987 he launched his own record label, Raizer X Records, to produce and distribute the music of San Francisco rock bands. He also produced albums of his own, including “Run, Cripple.”
For his entire life, he rejected materialist consumer culture. Punk rock in particular embodied these principles for Ted. He had equal enthusiasm for hip-hop, reggae and blues, for their roots in resistance and oppression.
On WORT-FM, his weekly show – “Songs of Safety and Manners” – celebrated Madison’s (punk) music scene and gave air time to new groups. Bands across the country credit Ted for giving them their first on-air exposure. For his 50th birthday, several of them came to Madison to perform in his honor.
Ted’s other passion was teaching kids to read. As a paraprofessional in San Francisco public schools, Ted helped scores of inner-city children learn to read, after the educational establishment had given up on them. This was Ted’s proudest accomplishment.
In recent years, Ted drove the night shift for Union Cab in Madison and focused on promoting locally-owned taxi service in the face of competition from Uber and Lyft. Sadly, Ted passed before seeing the publication of his completed book – “The Mission Higher” – but the family is committed to working with the publisher and making it available in the near future.
Ted moved people and stretched their comfort zones with humor and caring. We, his family, have all been graced with the profoundly positive vision of life he leaves us.
Memorial and community celebration to be announced.