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.
Gillian Martin was a music major at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale when her first classical radio career began. Moving from volunteer to student worker to part-time announcer to Music Director at WSIU-FM, she spent six years on-air there before leaving to pursue a graduate degree in theater. After several years of working in theater and arts administration, Gillian got back into broadcasting in 2005 when she joined Minnesota Public Radio's on-air staff part-time. She is delighted to be a part of Classical 24. In her off hours, Gillian thoroughly enjoys a good sing-along, is passionate about nonprofit bookkeeping, and loves to hear smart people debate big questions.
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 came to the Classical 24 team after more than a decade as a classical host and music director at KNAU in Flagstaff, Ariz. She holds a degree in cello performance and plays piano in self-defense, but feels most at home in front of a microphone—as your companion for an evening of classical music, or singing classic tunes in a club.
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.
Prior to joining Minnesota Public Radio, Young served as an assistant producer for KUHF-FM in Houston for "The Front Row" and was host for KUHF's "Sunday Afternoon Concert." She enjoyed a successful career as a concert flutist, performing as a guest with the Boston Symphony and with the Atlanta Symphony. An intrepid traveler, she has given recitals in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia while managing to climb a mountain or two in the process. She also served as the principal flutist with the Houston Ballet Orchestra.
Young began her broadcast life at Houston Public Radio answering phones during fundraising campaigns. While an illness cut her performing career short, she made a vibrant artistic transition, making the natural move to broadcasting. She says, "the intellectual stimulation of speaking with dancers, writers, artists, actors and musicians is extremely rewarding." She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
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. He spends much of his time working to improve his tennis ranking in the USTA Northern Section, composing limericks and trying to give himself an ironclad leave from a three-rail billiard shot.