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From radio to TV, DJ knows his stuff

SHARE From radio to TV, DJ knows his stuff

Radio is a "Breeze" for Dan Jessop.

With 32 years of radio experience behind him — making him the unheralded No. 4 longest-term veteran in the local market — he is the midday DJ at KBZN (FM-97.9), the smooth-jazz music station nicknamed "The Breeze."

Besides three decades-plus on the radio, Jessop has also been doubling as a local TV weather forecaster for the past five years.

As the fill-in weathercaster for newscasts on KSTU-Ch. 13, the local Fox network affiliate, Jessop has become one of the most visible of local DJs.

"Whenever they need me, I go," Jessop said, referring to Ch. 13's news department.

He said it wasn't all that difficult to add TV weathercasting to his long list of talents.

When he started at Ch. 13 in 1995, he received plenty of coaching from the experts there. That helped him feel more at ease as he stood in front of that blank blue screen, pointing to maps and weather information seen by viewers.

"I've always been kind of a weather nut," Jessop said.

It was back in 1968 when Jessop, an Ogden High graduate, started his radio career at KSVN radio in Ogden. Only KLO's Len Allen, Gene Pack of KUER and Tom Bock of KOSY have longer radio careers in Utah than Jessop. (But there are some other DJs with longer careers if you count their non-Utah experience.)

Jessop credits a brother-in-law, Arnie Wheeler, with his initial interest in radio when he was only 8. Wheeler, who recently retired from Ogden's KLO, had more than four decades experience in Utah radio.

Kent Norton, former KCPX/KVOG DJ and another Ogden High graduate, also gets some credit for Jessop's career. Jessop said that when he was 14, he heard Norton on the radio and decided he ought to try it. (Today Norton is an attorney who moonlights as KSL-TV's weekend weathercaster.)

Back in 1968, Jessop said his DJ pay was $1.60 an hour.

By 1970, he was hired to do weekends at KNAK, and soon he was at KCPX in the days of such famous local DJs as Lynn Lehman and "Woolly" Waldron.

One reason Jessop is often overlooked as one of Utah's veteran DJs is because he went by a nickname for some of his first years in radio. While at KCPX, he went by the name of "Chad-O-Stevens," a variation on a popular national DJ at the time, "Shadoe Stevens."

After 10 years at KCPX, Jessop moved on to a number of radio stations — KISN/KLUB, a five-year stint at KSL, KMGR, KSFI, KUMT and finally KBZN.

At one time, Jessop hosted "Dialing for Dollars" on Ch. 4, he's worked on Ch. 5 and, more recently, he has moonlighted at KKAT under another nickname.

Despite his longevity, experience, versatility and TV work, Jessop isn't one to look for attention. "I enjoy having been in the background," he said of his DJ experience. "We're not celebrities. We provide a service: entertainment."

That's his biggest concern about the TV weathercasting job — he doesn't enjoy being the center of attention. And he credits longtime local DJ Mark Van Wagoner (now at KDYL), who also did weather on Ch. 13 news for a time, for the introduction that led to Jessop's part-time work on Fox News.

Jessop's talents also extend into sports, and he's also worked on several different stations doing radio sports shows with four of Utah's most legendary sportscasters — Paul James, Bill Marcroft, Bill Howard and Hot Rod Hundley.

Currently, Jessop is on KBZN weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

He has one of those great radio voices, a smooth delivery, and he's also been program director at many stations.

In fact, he also tried his hand at radio sales and even station management in the past.

Few DJs have that kind of versatility.

"The more things I learn, the more indispensable I become," he said, explaining his father was also a jack-of-all-trades in the sporting-goods industry.

Jessop also doubles as the program director for morning-host Len Allen on sister-station KLO.

(Allen is Utah's No. 1 veteran DJ, having started at KLO in 1947 — 53 years ago.)

Since Jessop grew up in Ogden, he said it is amazing to be working with Allen, a golden radio voice he's always heard.

Jessop said he doesn't feel Allen, now in his 70s, will ever retire.

Similarly, Jessop loves what he does.

"I just don't live for the weekend," he said, although after hours he loves skiing, hiking and the outdoors, including fly fishing.

E-mail: lynn@desnews.com