Women to Watch: Jessie Watt


(By Charese Fruge’) Jessie Watt is Co-Host of the Sarah Pepper and Jessie Watt Morning Show on Hot AC KHMX, Mix 96.5 in Houston. She’s responsible for bringing content to the table, staying on top of local and pop culture news, planning the show rundown, and hosting with Sarah.

“As Sarah and I are currently a two-person show, we act as our own producers: taking phone calls and editing content,” Watt explains. “Aside from the ‘on-air’ aspect of my job, so much of my time is dedicated to Mix’s socials. Scheduling content, pushing out our podcasts, recording in-studio footage, and editing it together for TikTok videos and reels. We want to be where our listeners are, so responding to messages and comments is important too.”

“I graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts in 2018. I always thought I wanted to work in TV until I realized, #1 how fun and engaging radio is, and #2 that I can wear sweatpants to work,” says Watt. “During the summers I was in school, I worked for Entercom (Audacy) Detroit as a promotions coordinator. After graduation, I learned how to run the board and produce. Under the guidance and mentorship of Tim Roberts, I started to practice being on air overnight from midnight to 5:00 am. I am eternally grateful that he took a chance on me and let me become the full-time producer for the morning show ‘Chuck, Rachael, and Grunwald’ on 99.5 WYCD. I had the MOST fun with them before leaving for Houston to join Sarah Pepper in the morning as a co-host.”

“Chemistry with Sarah comes EASY. We must have known each other in a past life because we clicked the instant we met. Sarah makes a fun, trusting, and energetic space every morning to be myself. Chemistry flows so easily when you are actually friends outside of your career. For us, we work on a true, trusting friendship first, and the silliness just comes naturally! Being locked in a soundproof room with someone every day for 5+ hours forces you to REALLY know a person. I think Sarah may be one of the people in the world that truly knows me best. We both love coming to work in the morning because we love our friendship. What do they say? Love what you do and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life?”

“Neither Sarah nor I take being one of the few female lead morning shows lightly. No matter the gender, we want to make people feel included and heard every morning. However, there is a part of us that will always hope a little girl is listening and think ‘I can do that too!’ I hope our show will continue to break stereotypes and gender roles and be an example that when you be yourself, believe in yourself, and speak for yourself, success will follow.” 

“One of my most cherished memories given to me by radio happened while I was living in Michigan,” says Watt. “During my time producing the morning show on WYCD, I was asked to participate in a Detroit version of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ to help raise money for Faith in Action. I grew up a competitive dancer and taught competitive dance for many years before moving to Houston. However, ballroom was not a style I had ever done before. I took classes for months before competing and it gave me so much fulfillment to combine my favorite things, radio, dance, and philanthropy.”

“Let’s be real. There are moments when I think, ‘Holy crap, did I really just get to interview that artist??’ Or I’m watching a Jonas Brothers concert thinking, ‘Little Jessie would cry happy tears right now.’ But truthfully, my favorite moments in radio come from connecting with our listeners! I hope people don’t think saying ‘I love listening to your show’ is a small comment. It’s everything! ‘Do you actually like listening to Sarah and I ramble about our crazy stories and silly rabbit holes?? THANK YOU!!’ When you’re in a room with one other person, it’s easy to forget that other people are with you until they make themselves seen, and I appreciate that so, so much. My biggest accomplishments come from the connections I make with co-workers, listeners, clients, etc.”

“One of the biggest challenges I face daily is social media,” says Watt. “I love it, and I hate it! I recognize the tool social media can be to market yourself and your show while connecting with listeners. It can also bring out the worst in people. Putting your life and experiences out on the radio can be intimidating and not everyone is gentle with your feelings. When I feel vulnerable and a random person decides to say something mean, it can be difficult to shake it off (Yes, I meant that as a Taylor Swift reference). Thankfully, my sweet husband is there to hold a mirror up to me and remind me of what’s true. Also, therapy helps… and chocolate.”

“AI terrifies me, but only because I believe it should be regulated. Besides the whole ‘AI is going to take over the world’ thing, I think it’s wildly cool. Change is hard, but the world is moving whether we like it or not! So I’m choosing to embrace the change, learn as much as I can, and use AI to my advantage in terms of show prep, content/script ideas, social media, and maybe even a crazy character!”

“Radio is no longer just ‘radio,’” says Watt. “We are audio content creators! So, to continue bridging the gap between generations, no one can be left out. I think Sarah and I do a really great job of acknowledging both Gen Z and Gen X during our show without making the other one feel unseen. You’re never ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ to know what we’re talking about! We want to be accessible to everyone, everywhere. We want people of any generation to be able to find us and listen to us in their cars, on the Audacy app, on TikTok, etc. Gen Z is moving away from traditional forms of radio and the way we talk in general. You’ll see regular people with no formal audio training or degree go viral online just for being themselves. Then they’ll start a podcast, and their followers will continue to listen and support them because Gen Z loves to watch people they relate to have online success. You’ll notice when it’s just two friends who started a podcast, there’s no ‘character’ or ‘role’ they’re playing. People love them because they’re being themselves. Gen Z loves authenticity. If we let on-air personalities be themselves without trying to force them into a character they’re portraying, love will pour in. Authenticity speaks volumes and Gen Z can see it.”

Houston is another unique southern city with a plethora of cultural events happening year-round. One of the biggest is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which consumes a good three weeks in February and March, bringing thousands of tourists to the city in addition to the hundreds of thousands of locals who take part, not to mention the World-Famous BBQ Cookoff which takes place before the event kicks off. The Audacy cluster is a big part of this event, making it a priority for KHMX and Sarah and Jessie. “Rodeo is our favorite time of year! Although my sleep schedule may disagree,” says Watt. “With the help of social media, our goal is to bring our listeners everywhere we go. We want them to feel like they’re coming along with us to all the ‘behind the scenes’ events and shows. When you follow Mix, you’re ‘in the know’ and a part of the party! As always, we want to give away every last Rodeo ticket possible so our listeners can enjoy a day with their families. We also strive to share the incredible work and scholarships that are a part of the Rodeo. Houston really rallies around this month-long event, and we want to be in the center of it all!”

“I like to think our cluster is vital to the community in so many ways. In 2023 alone, our cluster raised over $3 million for the Houston community. Sarah and I have chosen to focus on kids in our community and ask ourselves how we can make a difference in their lives. For me, radio is about inclusion and joy. To never feel alone, to feel heard/seen, and to feel true happiness is my goal every day. We’ve been able to share so much of those values in 2023 with our ‘Southwest Santa Express’ and ‘Shine Bright Sleep Tight at MD Anderson.’ More than 30 families with DePelchin Children’s Center were gifted the best Christmas AND a trip from Santa!! The kids battling cancer at MD Anderson were visited by our community and the Houston Fire Department to say goodnight before Christmas. I know Sarah and I will continue to work on inclusion and joy for kids this year and I hope our impact will last far longer!”

Watt has advice for young women who want to be successful in the radio industry. “Find your values and stick to them. It’s easy to get lost and people will offer you roles or opportunities that you’ll feel are once in a lifetime. To never lose yourself along the way, keep your values close to your heart! BE YOU!!! Take every criticism with a grain of salt. Ask questions and learn as much as you can! Tim Roberts told me at the start of my career to ‘Be A Weapon.’ We are no longer just on-air personalities. We run the board, interview, edit interviews, become social media influencers, the whole 9 yards!! Learn everything!”

As for what keeps her up at night, “Truthfully, my husband sleep talking,” Watt says. “He has full-on conversations every night!! Sometimes he starts to sleepwalk and put on his shoes, which means I have to be on high alert to make sure he doesn’t leave the apartment!! Luckily, he’s a very good listener when asleep.”

As far as balance, “Do we ever find it?” she asks. “I find that I tend to swing the pendulum on each side trying to find balance every day, and I have yet to find the middle. But that’s okay! One week I eat fruit for breakfast and sleep for 8 hours a night, the next I eat Cheetos at 6 am and haven’t had more than two hours of sleep…. Whoops”

Follow Jessie Watt on Facebook and Instagram: @jessiewattonair and TikTok: JessieWatt

Charese Fruge’ is an award-winning Content, Broadcast, and Marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, San Diego, and Las Vegas. As the owner of MC Media, she works with radio brands and individual talents, especially young women, helping them grow their brands and negotiate on their own behalf. Find her at @MCMediaOnline. See more Women to Watch here.


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