Who’s This New “JR” Guy in the Afternoon on WITL?
I remember listening to WITL on my transistor radio underneath my pillow when I was a kid. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that I would someday become a voice on this very radio station.
Hi. My name’s Jonathan Ruppel. For simplicity’s sake, I just go by “J.R.” personally and professionally. I was born in Flint, and raised there for the most part for the first 12 years of my life before my parents decided to move our family out-of-state. Wisconsin, Texas, Florida and Tennessee were other states I called home before graduating high school.
I began to fall in love with the idea of being a radio DJ around junior high. There was a major obstacle standing in the way of that dream, however—a pretty severe speech impediment. I’d been in various forms of speech therapy since kindergarten, to no avail. Kids can be cruel, especially in those junior high years. Tired of being made fun of, I spent my entire Christmas vacation in 8th grade in front of a mirror, trying to form my words correctly. Somehow, some way, things finally clicked and I went back to school in January sounding like a different kid. I felt like I could do anything I wanted to do.
Fast forward to senior year. I had a job at a frozen yogurt store and enough credits that I could leave school by mid-morning each day. All of us who were permitted to leave early had to take that certain co-op class. The teacher had us all fill out questionnaires at the beginning of the year, asking what industries we’d ultimately like to work in. I wrote “Radio/TV HAHA”. Like he was going to be able to hook me up with a broadcaster. Whatever. Well, he did. Following my teacher’s introduction, I began interning at a local radio station and ultimately landed a part-time job when false labor forced another worker to be unable to cover her shift. I was promoted to a full-time job as that station’s News Director when I was 19, still just a college freshman. That was a while ago.
I spent several years working in various roles at radio stations in Tennessee before eventually moving to Texas, then Virginia, then Maine. I never would have believed my radio career path would someday lead me back to Michigan—but here I am!
On a personal level, I’ve been married for 25 years (not all to the same woman… that would be crazy). After three divorces, I’m kind of done with marriage. My adult daughter KateLynne lives in Alabama, and my adult son Ryan lives in Tennessee. My youngest son Jonah lives with his mother in Texas. He is a non-verbal special needs child who owns my heart. I’ll tell you more about him sometime.
I love going to concerts—and if there’s a country one within 150 miles of here, you can pretty much bet I’ll be there. Beyond that, I also enjoy karaoke, bowling, and discovering new restaurants to try.
If you see me out and about, say hi! I’d love to meet you.