Jessi Whitten

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Bachelor’s degree in English, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Professional background:

Jessi joined Colorado Public Radio as music director for CPR's OpenAir in September 2011 after spending five years at the University of Colorado’s nationally-recognized radio station, Radio 1190. She served as music director for Radio 1190 for two years, planning daytime music programming, producing web content and screening and reviewing CDs. Jessi also hosted the station’s morning show on and off from 2008-2011. Prior to that, she was Radio 1190’s volunteer coordinator, scheduling events, recruiting new volunteers and creating promotional materials for the station.

In addition to managing the responsibilities of music director, Jessi is a regular contributor to NPR Music and has been featured on Morning Edition, All Songs Considered and WNYC.

Q & A

How did you become interested in music?
In my parents’ collections I found They Might Be Giants, Janis Joplin, Moody Blues and the many others that helped me on my path of musical discovery. Seeing live music became a necessary outlet during my angstier tween and teenage years. I’d dance and sing along to bands like The Faint, Tilly and the Wall and Matson Jones. From then on it was clear that I had to build a life that revolves around music. I made it my mission to unearth the best of new and old music. I’d research, construct lists, test myself, build mix tapes and see upwards of three shows a week. I was even voted “Most Music Savvy” in high school. Since then, music has become much more than a passion; it’s my life force.

How did you get into radio?
I was gifted a radio around the time my family moved from California to Colorado. During that awkward stint being “the new girl,” I adopted a series of radio hosts as my best friends. The L.A.-based morning crew of Jamie, Frosty and Frank would wake me up and keep me company before I went to school every day. It wasn’t long before I began constructing my own mix tapes including station breaks of myself embodying the character "DJ Ringo." When I got to college, I immediately jumped into the campus radio station, Radio 1190. I worked there for five amazing years, the last two of which I spent as music director, which ignited my love of radio programming. 

Favorite music?
This is always a difficult question, but some favorites include: The Magnetic Fields; Young Fathers; The Velvet Underground; Hot IQs; The Postal Service; Spoon; Angel Olsen; Mitski; Raphael Saadiq; Car Seat Headrest; David Bowie; Cyndi Lauper and far too many others to list.

Stories and Blog Posts by Jessi Whitten