Jenn White, host of a two-hour weekday talk show on WBEZ in Chicago, is leaving the station to become the next host of public radio’s 1A.
White’s first day as 1A’s host is July 6. The two-hour weekday show is distributed by NPR and produced by WAMU in Washington, D.C.
White said she admires how 1A includes listeners in daily discussions using social media. Audience engagement is in the show’s DNA, she said.
She added, “The other thing that really attracted me was the fact that it feels like they’re really trying to answer this question about how we live and come together in this nation, and it requires difficult conversations. But they’re committed to that, and that’s the focus of my work as well.”
White will replace Joshua Johnson, who left the program in December after three years to become an MSNBC anchor. After Johnson’s departure, Todd Zwillich served as interim host before becoming D.C. bureau chief for Vice News.
White has worked for WBEZ since 2016. Last fall, she became host of Reset with Jenn White after hosting the station’s The Morning Shift. She also hosted limited-series podcasts for the station including Making Oprah, Making Obama and 16 Shots.
White said hosting 1A will give her the opportunity to cover more subjects of nationwide interest. In her current position, she focuses mostly on Chicago. The incoming host credits her interest in radio to her father, who collected tapes of broadcasts and played them for her.
“They were old-timey radio shows, like The Lone Ranger, where you’d have these voice actors come in and the artists were making the sound effects,” she said. “Those tapes were just fascinating to me, to hear the power of the human voice. That’s when I fell in love with the medium itself. I grew into this deeper understanding of what radio could do.”
White’s first job in public media was in fundraising with Michigan Radio in 1999. She later became station manager of the Michigan Channel from 2008-10, where she was EP and host of the television program Out of the Blue: The Michigan Difference on the Big Ten Network.
After a brief stint as director of media outreach and community relations for Michigan Radio in 2009–10, White became host of the station’s All Things Considered broadcasts. For six years, she moderated on-air gubernatorial and mayoral debates. White has also been an EP and host of the nationally distributed public radio documentary Finding Our Bootstraps: Americans Deal with Recession.
White said she’s most interested in covering national politics, race and public policy as host of 1A. She said she will most likely host the program from home when she starts the position.
1A debuted on 169 stations in January 2017 as successor of WAMU’s Diane Rehm Show. It airs on more than 375 stations with 4 million weekly listeners to the broadcast and on on-demand platforms, according to the station.
Sasha-Ann Simons, who was promoted to national correspondent for WAMU in March, and guest host Celeste Headlee will continue anchoring 1A until White joins.