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Radio dial: Utahn is an authority in country music radio

Published: Friday, Aug. 25 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

"Utah boy makes a national splash in radio." That could easily be an accurate headline for the career of Wade Jessen, Duchesne County native, who is a national country music authority.

Jessen is the director of country, bluegrass, Christian and gospel charts at Radio and Records (R&R) in the Billboard Information Group.

A 28-year veteran in country radio, he started his career at KNEU in Roosevelt in March 1978. He was raised in Altonah, Duchesne County, where he worked on a cattle ranch his family has owned for five generations, and graduated from Altamont High School in 1979.

Jessen also worked at Salt Lake's KSOP, as the station's midday personality and music director. From there, he moved to WSM, a legendary country station in Nashville, as its music director. While there, he was named the medium-market music director of the year by Billboard in 1994.

He also hosted a four-hour country-classics show on WSM and was recruited to join Billboard in 1994.

Today he also produces and hosts a three-hour weekly classic-country radio show, "Rear View with Wade Jessen: The History of Country Music," on Sirius satellite radio.

Jessen is one of the most quoted and respected authorities on country music and country radio, through Billboard and R&R. He also maintains interest in politics, rural news issues and antique radio-and-phonograph collecting.

He gained additional responsibilities when Billboard recently purchased R&R.

RADIO HAPPENINGS Doug Miller, Utah outdoor authority, died Aug. 20 at age 59. He started at KSL radio, expanded to KSL-TV and spent the last five years on KUTV. No one in Utah broadcasting had a deeper, more recognizable voice than Miller. He was a versatile, likable and knowledgable broadcaster. Even if you had never met him, you felt you knew him. He will be missed.

KSFI ("FM-100") listeners can sign up for the station's "Loyal Listener Club," which includes all kinds of benefits and useful information. KSFI will also sponsor a special "Back-to-School Pep Rally" at the Gateway Mall on Saturday at 1 p.m.

—Local radio can't be beat for its local conversation and call-ins. For example, Monday on the "Todd and Erin" show on KBEE, they got a woman to phone in who owns 70 pairs of flip-flops. Meanwhile, "Kerry, Bill and Gina" on KXRK's morning show had fun with callers who wanted dream interpretations but had the wrong morning program. At the same time, "The Z-Morning Zoo" on KZHT had dream analyzing under way with Lauri from Dreamzone.com.

NEW STATION FORMAT POSSIBILITIES — A few weeks ago, I asked for format suggestions for a new Salt Lake-area FM station that will be on the air in the coming months on FM-100.7. Terry Hanna suggests a mix of pop and country music, or else big band. He also wants expanded news programming. Mark Bradley said he'd love an oldies format hosted by Mark Van Wagoner and Danny Kramer.

SATELLITE RADIO UPDATE — Will satellite radio ("pay radio") cut deep into local radio's audience in the next four years? Apparently not.

According to a recent study by Targetbase (and reported on Radio and Records), 83 percent of those surveyed have no intention of subscribing to satellite radio before the year 2010.

The study estimated that satellite radio will have 19.5 million subscribers nationally by 2010. That compares to some other studies that went as high as 30 million listeners.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com

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