Julie Amacher’s desire to introduce others to great music is what led her to radio. She began her professional broadcast career at a station in Sun Prairie, Wisc. She went from rock ‘n’ roll to the Rocky Mountains, where she found her niche in public radio at KUNC in Greeley, Colo. Julie spent 13 years at KUNC, where she managed the announcers and their eclectic music format. During that time, she earned four national awards for best announcer. She joined Classical 24 in 1997.
Scott Blankenship started his radio career in college when he began working as a volunteer at a local cable radio station, announcing alternative and new rock music. His love and appreciation of classical music began at public radio station KVNO in Omaha, where he spent 13 years in various on-air and management roles, five of those years as the morning drive-time host.
Indications that radio was in his blood go back to age five, when he used a corkboard and a battered phonograph as a make-shift radio studio, his father's Air Force issue flashlight served as his "on air" light. In his spare time, Blankenship is an avid cyclist and amateur playwright with several produced scripts to his credit.
A founding voice of Classical 24, Bob Christiansen has managed to combine his knowledge of classical music and history with a sharp wit and a talent for foreign languages into a 38-year radio career. While studying the ramifications of the “Time of Troubles” on the Grand Duchy of Moscow, he led a secret life as the evening man on the Northern Illinois University radio station. He teamed with Bill Morelock in 1987 to create the nationally syndicated Bob and Bill.
Jeff Esworthy has been the overnight host of Classical 24 since 1996. He’s a public radio veteran with more than 20 years behind the microphone, where he’s hosted everything from folk to jazz to progressive rock. A hobbyist musician and collector of instruments from around the world, Jeff has what he describes as a “passable” command of southern string-band music on fiddle and banjo, and he is a long-time student of the classical music of Northern India on instruments such as the sitar, sarangi and tabla.
Ward Jacobson has enjoyed a radio career spanning over two decades as a morning show host and sportscaster, as well as producer/host of an interview program where he chatted up both local and national authors, musicians, politicians and newsmakers. He is also a past winner of the prestigious Marconi Award. Jacobson's love of classical music stems from a childhood influenced by his bass-baritone father and piano-teaching mother. While still a college student in Nebraska, he began singing with the Abendmusik Chorus and took part in concert tours to venues as varied as England’s Lincoln Cathedral, the Vatican, Salzburg Cathedral, Auschwitz and Moscow. When not singing, he works to develop his guitar-strumming repertoire.
Valerie Kahler grew up in a musical family and started playing cello and piano in 3rd grade. She began her radio career in 1989 as a volunteer at KNAU (now Arizona Public Radio) in Flagstaff, Arizona. She worked there as a classical host and music director for more than a decade before moving to Minnesota to work for MPR. In addition to classical music, other passions include sewing, singing and cooking. She shares her life with her partner John, an artist.
Melissa Ousley stumbled into a career in broadcasting many years ago when she moved to Wichita, Kansas to be near her soon-to-be husband. The attraction (to radio work, that is) was immediate and the chance to be around great music without having to practice piano was irresistible. After establishing herself as a host and producer in Kansas, Melissa moved to Minnesota and continued her work at WCAL in Northfield and Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul. Her morning classical show at WCAL was twice named "Best Classical Radio Program" by the Twin Cities paper City Pages.
Melissa grew up near New York City. As a teenager, she attended the Preparatory Division of the Manhattan School of Music. Her bachelor's degree in music education is from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. When she's away from the airwaves, Melissa loves to run, read, and spend time with her family.
Kevin O'Connor grew up in a household where his father and boisterous Irish uncles would often noisily debate what was to be played on the turntable: Between the three brothers, and depending on the mood of the day, it wavered between Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson and Gordon Lightfoot. (The brothers also hailed from Toronto). Kevin's career arc seemed to follow suit, spinning and selling classical, jazz, folk and pop music on the radio, and briefly in retail, for the past three decades.
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he migrated do the Pacific Northwest, landing the requisite free-form overnight shift at his college station, KBSU, Boise. This was the first among many rungs in a public radio career that has always permitted him to express his passions for great music and explore his mercenary tendency toward spreading the message to anyone who will listen. For the past 18 years, he has served as music director and afternoon host at KBEM. He is also an avid cyclist and walker.
Mindy Ratner began her career in public broadcasting following her graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working first for the local public television station and then for Wisconsin Public Radio. She moved on to stations in Cincinnati and Philadelphia before joining Minnesota Public Radio in 1983. In 1998 and '99, Ratner took a leave of absence to work as a music host and producer for China Radio International in Beijing. Her spare time is devoted to international travel; folk, ballroom and contradancing; singing in the Minnesota Chorale; her two cats, and trying to stay ahead of the weeds in her garden.
Elena See started her radio career in Minnesota in 2001, working as part of the production team for Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. She then decided it was time to put her clarinet-ing skills to work and so began performing in local orchestras and working as a classical music host for Maine Public Broadcasting. Eventually, she headed south to Washington, DC for several years to try out satellite radio with Sirius XM. When she's not on the public radio airwaves, Elena is usually spending time with a great book, her family (which includes a couple of enormous dogs), or her guitar.
Lynne Warfel returns to a 24-year radio career after a four-year hiatus. In this "Cavorts with Collies" period, she followed her lifelong passion for working with dogs as a trainer and behavior consultant. She started "Good Dog Productions", her in-home dog training business in 2006. Previous to The Dog Mutterer phase, she was one of MPR's first national hosts in 1995. She was also heard locally on Minnesota Public Radio from 1993-2005. While at MPR in her former incarnation, she hosted the Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest, Echoes of Christmas with the Dale Warland Singers, Sommerfest broadcasts, was a guest narrator with The SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra, and was a frequent guest host on The Morning Show with Dale Connelley and Jim Ed Poole.
John Zech got started in broadcasting as a news anchor at his high school’s closed-circuit television station (KRUD). While in school at St. Olaf College, his love of classical music earned him his first “real” radio experience at WCAL-FM. After a dozen years doing virtually everything there was to do at a small public radio station, John crossed over into the private sector, producing and voicing an audio reading program for a major educational publisher, managing multilingual translation projects for an international communications firm, and generally learning what it’s like to work for a living. Having seen the light, John returned to radio in 1992. After deciding his zen garden was too much of a headache, John looks for enlightenment on the tennis court and the billiard table instead.