Thursday, June 2, 2016


This week we have been featuring folks who are working with public radio station-based programs who have terrific futures ahead of them. Today we look at three program hosts who could, if they want to, work at any shop in the public radio system. All are terrific storytellers and multi-platform players. The future of public media, particularly public radio, is bright if we can keep giving them new opportunities to shine.

Emily Jo Cureton
Co-Host & Producer
The Jefferson Exchange
Jefferson Public Radio
Medford, Oregon

Emily Jo Cureton has been working in public media for about a decade.  She knows sometimes a person needs to make big moves to advance a career. These days Emily is a co-host (with Geoffrey Riley) and producer of The Jefferson Exchange [link] in southern Oregon. 

Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) is in the imaginary state of “Jefferson.” Jefferson refers to what coulda, shoulda been a state including northern California and southern Oregon. JPR blankets the region with three distinct program streams.

Rural Oregon is a long way from where Emily started. She was born and raised in the Dallas area in 1985. She graduated for UT-Austin in 2007 with degrees in History, Art, Russian linguistics. But she actually majored in radio and was a DJ and program manager at KVRX, UT’s nifty college station.

Emily got into the public media biz in 2009 as a volunteer host, DJ and news contributor for KRTS Marfa Public Radio in west Texas. As you probably know, KRTS is one of the most creative an innovative small-market shops in public media.

Then she moved to the west coast to work as a print journalist and part-time “Deadbeat DJ” (her words) at community station KFUG in Crescent City, California. At KFUG she “expanded her altered states of aural consciousness” (again, her words) before travelling to Costa Rica.

In 2015 Emily got the gig at JPR. She is now based in Medford and continues to write and perform in many forms of media: blogging, print journalism, essays, visual arts and design. If you are having a gathering, Emily is also a great party DJ.
Paul Guggenheimer
Host, Essential Pittsburgh
WESA, Pittsburgh

Paul Guggenheimer is living proof that you can go home again and make a difference. Paul is now is drawing praise for his professionalism and grace as the host of WESA’s daily talk/interview show Essential Pittsburgh [link].

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Virginia Linn in 2015 article [link] told  Guggenheimer’s story. 

Paul grew up in suburban Pittsburgh and began in the biz as a volunteer at WDUQ at age 16. After high school, he left Pittsburgh for over two decades. Paul graduated from Emerson College and experienced WERS followed by radio gigs in Washington, DC, Iowa and South Dakota. SoDak turned out to be his ticket back to Pittsburgh.

For several years he was host and producer of South Dakota Public Radio’s daily talk show Dakota Midday. At the small, rural shop he honed his chops interviewing Daniel Ellsberg, Kevin Costner, George McGovern and anybody who is anyone in state.

But Pittsburgh was always on his mind.  He told Linn:

When I was away from Pittsburgh, I most missed my family. They have always lived here, including my Mom and Dad, two brothers, a sister in law, a niece and nephew and my aunt and cousin. Most mornings I get up ... grateful to be alive and wishing I could sleep for another hour.

Melissa Ross
Host & Producer, First Coast Connect
WJCT, Jacksonville

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville as a commercial  radio and television news anchor and reporter. She won four regional Emmys for her TV work. 

Then she left broadcasting to work in corporate communications at a Jacksonville ad agency. She missed the immediacy of live radio.  After three years in the ad world she left to join WJCT in 2009. Since then she has been doing remarkable work at First Coast Connect [link]. 
Bigger assignments keep coming Ross’s way. In December, 2015 she was a guest host of The Diane Rehm Show.

“It’s a big honor,” she told the local paper [link] after her return for DC. “I admire her on a number of levels,” Ross said. “She’s unfailingly dignified, civil and polite. She is respectful of her guests, and respectful of her listeners. That’s always important, especially now, when we’re debating so many difficult issues.”

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