Comings and goings: Longtime jazz host retires in St. Louis, WBEZ adds morning anchor …

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Dennis Owsley retired from St. Louis Public Radio in December after 36 years at the station as a host and producer of Jazz Unlimited, a weekly show.


Owsley joined KWMU in April 1983. He has been named a “Jazz Hero of St. Louis” by the Jazz Journalists Association and received St. Louis Public Radio’s Millard S. Cohen Lifetime Achievement Award. Former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay created “Dennis Owsley Day” in 2008. Jazz Unlimited was named best jazz show six times in the Riverfront Times’ annual Best in St. Louis Awards.

“Dennis has had an amazing career and made a huge impact in the St. Louis jazz community,” said St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby in a news release. “We are so grateful to him for his more than 36 years of service sharing his passion for jazz music with listeners.”

Owsley, who played music largely from his personal collection for his show, has published two books on the history of jazz in St. Louis. He is also a photographer of jazz musicians. He co-curated exhibitions of his photography at the Sheldon Art Galleries in 2005 and 2006. 

Mary Dixon will start as WBEZ’s morning anchor in February.

Dixon is replacing Lisa Labuz, who will move into midday hosting after 20 years in the morning slot. Dixon was most recently morning co-host and news anchor for Chicago rock station WXRT, a position she held for more than two decades. WXRT owner Entercom eliminated her role in December.

Dixon began her radio career at WIXN-AM/FM in Dixon, Ill., as a disc jockey. She has also been an anchor and reporter for CNN’s Chicago bureau and local stations WGN-TV and WMAQ-AM, according to a news release.

WAMU in Washington, D.C., added staff and began a new project on the cost of living in the city.

Alexander McCall became an audience producer for WAMU this month. McCall’s most recent position was as an associate editor at NPR, where he also worked as an assistant producer and editorial assistant. McCall has also been a news producer for WFIU and WTIU in Bloomington, Ind.

Jennifer Gathright also joined WAMU this month as a local news reporter. Gathright was most recently a news assistant at NPR. She is a former editor for the Harvard Crimson student newspaper.

In addition, Gabe Bullard will be project manager and editor for WAMU’s Affordability Desk, an initiative to report on the cost of living in the Washington, D.C., region. The team, which includes reporters Ally Schweitzer, Sasha-Ann Simons and Eliza Berkon, will focus on the intersections of housing, transportation, education, local government and economics. Berkon became a digital producer for WAMU in November. Her work has appeared in Northern Virginia Magazine, Arlington Magazine, the Washington Post and DCist. Schweitzer has worked for WAMU since 2014, and Simons joined the station as a reporter in 2017. Bullard joined WAMU in 2016 to work with 1A. He has been a senior editor since March 2019.


Christine Dempsey and Matt Martinez will begin three year-terms next month as new members of the Public Radio Program Directors Association board. Dempsey joined Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as SVP of radio last year and has held positions at stations including WABE in Atlanta and WHYY in Philadelphia. Martinez is director of content for KNKX in Tacoma, Wash. He began his public media career with NPR in 2000 as a producer for All Things Considered. He was also a producer for Weekend Edition and senior supervising producer for The Bryant Park Project. Martinez left NPR in 2015 to join KNKX. 



Lawrence Miller, a longtime lawyer for public television and radio licensees, program producers and distributors, retired in December after 48 years in the legal field. Miller was most recently an attorney for Foster Garvey PC, a firm that formed after a merger involving Foster Pepper and Garvey Schubert Barer. He started his career as a law clerk with Schwartz & Woods in 1971. In 1979, he became a partner, and the firm was renamed Schwartz, Woods & Miller. 


Barbara Curran was named chief people officer for the Contributor Development Partnership, the Boston-based fundraising platform for public media stations. Curran will be in charge of the human resources department within the organization starting this month. She was most recently VP of human resources for Promoboxx, a digital marketing company. She was also VP of global human resources for Synthesio, a social media consulting company, from 2015 to 2018.


Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson left NPR this month to be a co-host for Studio Berlin, a news show on KCRW Berlin. The station in the German capital is operated by KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif. In addition to working on another show expected to launch in March, Nelson told Current that she will be working on a book about women who are mountain climbers in Afghanistan. Nelson joined NPR in 2006 to open its first bureau in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was bureau chief in Cairo from 2010 to 2012 and Berlin from 2013 to 2018.

William Dobson stepped down as NPR’s chief international editor last month to become co-editor for the Journal of Democracy. Dobson spent nearly four years with NPR. He has also been managing editor of Foreign Policy and senior Asia editor at Newsweek International.

Nsikan Akpan is leaving public media to become a science editor at National Geographic. Akpan’s first public media position was with NPR as a global health news intern in 2014. He later joined PBS NewsHour in 2015 as a digital producer in science.

Mike Edgerly will become managing editor of at WFPL in Louisville next month. Edgerly, a Kentucky native, was most recently a freelance writer, editor and broadcaster. He worked for Minnesota Public Radio from 1991 to 2019, including as lead broadcast editor for an investigative project, “Betrayed by Silence,” which exposed the cover-up of child sexual abuse of children by priests in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese. The investigation received Peabody and duPont-Columbia Awards. He was eventually promoted to executive editor.


Kathie Obradovich was named editor of the Iowa Capital Dispatch, a nonprofit news outlet under the States Newsroom group that reports on local governments. The Iowa-based publication, launching this month, will be the network’s 14th outlet. Obradovich was most recently a political editor, columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She has also been a reporter, editor and bureau chief for Lee Enterprises, a company that owns several small newspapers. Reporters Clark Kauffman, Perry Beeman and Linh Ta, all former reporters for the Des Moines Register, will report to Obradovich.

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