10 Questions with ... Jessie Jessup
April 21, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Fell into radio because the boy I had a crush on loved Bon Jovi, thought if I was the one playing the Bon Jovi he would have to love me so I stalked the station (Z-98 on Guam) until they hired me. Got the job AND the boy.
1. Take us back to how you got started at The Edge and what stands out the most from 14 years ago?
Just celebrated my 15 anniversary with The Edge in February. Where did the time go? I was working at Y107 in Los Angeles and my PD Max Tolkoff recommended me to Duane Doherty who hired me because I used the phrase "technicolor yawn" in a sentence and also because he was looking for a nutball.
2. Last time we chatted you referred to yourself as The Toast Of Texas and you have the costume to prove it. Explain?
I have been working on the burlesque circuit for 7 years. I had to emcee a show at the STUNNING AND MASSIVE Majestic Theater once and was nervous I wasn't big enough to fill the immense space. I wanted to create some "wingspan" so augmented my regular emcee shtick by wearing a giant toast suit with gargantuan butter pasties and a bodacious grape merkin. My stage name was Melba The Toast Of Texas and I kicked off spectacle by entering from the audience ala Rip Taylor on the $1.98 Beauty Show but instead of throwing confetti I entered in a hail of CROUTONS and to the music of Elvis.... SEE SEE RIDER (LOL). Greatest night of my burlesque life. I doubt I will ever top it.
3. How would you describe yourself as an on-air personality?
Passionate, genuine and fun.
4. Tell us about how you make your afternoon show creative and compelling?
I know my audience, the music and the city and the lifestyle. But more importantly listeners know me. Great example, last year I got an email from Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction) requesting an interview. He was coming to town for SUSCON (a convention celebrating a unique art form where people are suspended in the air by placing meat hooks in various parts of their flesh) and had asked people he knew here in DFW "who on the radio can I talk to who would get it?" He brought this up in our interview saying that "every single person I asked responded the same way "Jessie is the freak who would get it". That really means a lot. I am always out and about hanging out and physically connected to the community not as a part of my job but simply because it is part of my life and my show is an extension and conduit of that connection.
5. What has led to your blog numbers soaring from 112,000 visitors in 2012 to almost 2.5 million in 2014?
Two years ago I literally broke down on the air talking about a video I had just posted about NIN facetiming DURING a show with Andrew Youseff a longtime fan who was dying. I didn't mean to cry and was deeply embarrassed but the unguarded moment resonated with listeners and the blog exploded. It has been growing ever since. When you keep it real, they will keep coming. I have met listeners at events who say they enjoy the blog because it is so frequently deep, thought provoking and genuine.
6. What is your show prep routine?
The late great Gary Owens is my enduring inspiration. He always said that a jock should prep one hour for every hour on the air. My first PD Albert Juan did that and passed the good habit onto me. Technology has taken it to the next level and there is never a time I am not prepping. I can be goofing around on twitter and see something like a t-shirt with a cat hiding in a pocket that you can pull down to reveal he is flipping the bird and know immediately that will go on the blog because Edgeheads will love it.
7. What part of your job do you like the most?
Being constantly surrounded by music, creativity and free spirited dreamers
8. What is a typical workday like for you?
My shift is weekday's 2-7p so prep starts early. Up at 8a to prep which I do until noon, checking websites, social media, combing thru local papers and also drawing. I frequently draw pictures to promote bands, local record stores and theaters. For example The Texas Theater did a showing of Gummo so to promote it on my blog I drew a guy in bunny ears blowing a giant bubble shaped like a letter O then I chewed a whole package of Bubblicious which I spit out and stuck to the O so it was literally a GUM O (lol). Enchanting, no?
9. Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
I love Chris Boyd, who hosts Think on KERA. Look up her Sizzle interview. It was glorious. And I adore Billy The Kidd on KHKS, who is the gold standard in terms of content and connection to community.
10. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Passion always wins.
Tell us about each of your passions below:
Local roller derby?
Roller derby is my favorite sport because it is so raw and visceral. You can see these amazing athletes throwing it down in roller skates on a track and then out of nowhere boom.... BEERAMID. There is also a huge DIY ethic to it which I respect and appreciate.
Burlesque is enthralling and empowering because it is both feminine and feminist. It is quite marvelous that these performers explore their own agency by removing not only their clothes but stripping off the antiquated societal delusion that women who are naked are bad or dirty.
My greatest joy and what radio done well is all about because listeners get to fill out the scene you stage with your voice with their own imaginations. So you are a team, partners in crime and that is what makes this medium so magical.