Jesse Reynolds is vowing to shake up “conservative” Ottawa in his new role as co-host for the revamped morning show on Jump 106.9 FM.
Reynolds, 27, secured the highly-coveted gig after winning the radio station’s Greatest Gig On Earth talent search contest which concluded in May — he’s also becoming the only openly gay host currently on a mainstream Ottawa radio station.
Partnering up with co-host Tony Stark, a veteran broadcaster and one of the station’s better known personalities, Reynolds will make his much-anticipated Jump debut on June 2. The duo’s show will run every weekday, from 5:30 am to 10 am.
“I’m just going to shake Ottawa up a little bit,” Reynolds says, noting the city’s reputation for being quiet and restrained. “(Jump) said they’re looking for something different, that hasn’t been done before and that’s exactly what I’m going to bring to the table.”
While stating that a queer radio personality has been long overdue in the city, Reynolds doesn’t attribute the delay to anything in particular, adding that he was surprised it took this long, considering Ottawa’s diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community.
Sexual orientation had little to do with the decision to award Reynolds the hosting duties, says Mark Dickie, Jump’s general manager, who attributes the victory to the Ottawa native’s quick wit and formidable presence.
“It wasn’t a big factor,” he says of Reynold’s sexuality. “We were looking for the right person that would be a good co-host for Tony [Stark].”
“We’re a different type of radio station. Maybe it’s because our programming target is millennials . . . that we don’t we give a lot of second thought to [sexual orientation].”
Retooling its morning show by recruiting a new personality through a talent competition was part of a conscious effort to push the roughly year-old Jump station forward, Dickie says.
While Stark was doing a stellar job manning the morning show solo, there was a need to bring in “a play partner,” he says: a “non-broadcast professional” who could bring real-life experience to the booth.
“Jesse is almost exactly what we were looking for,” Dickie says. “When we did the rapid fire interview, he left us all in stitches. The interview was one-liners after another.”
During the live auditions with Stark, Reynolds helped to elevate the program, he adds.
The contest started in early March with over 160 hopefuls looking to land the coveted spot alongside Stark.
The list was whittled down to 30, 10, five and three, before Reynolds was announced as the winner. To win the prize, the actor and comedian had to submit an online video, survive a series of social media tasks, co-host three morning shows and perform a live lip-sync battle.
After years of looking for work as an actor and later an entertainer and host, Reynolds considers this role his big break.
“I have been waiting a long time to get a break into this business,” he says. “Perseverance pays off and hard work does too.”