Covering traumatic events is part of working in the news media

Some people are born for greatness; others have a horseshoe, you know where. He may not be the biggest name in radio just yet, but he’s up for the biggest.

“I’m 6’8,” Jesse Kelly said. “Everyone in this business is small.”

Kelly graduated from high school in 1999. Life was fresh, possibilities abounded, and Kelly didn’t seem to think too much about the future.

“I remember we had our senior song,” Kelly said. “It seemed to be the same song for every graduating class; the time of your life, by Green Day. A great song, but man, like anything else, it can get old.

Kelly said it was all about classic rock. Aerosmith and classical music are also on his playlist.

“I was not allowed to go to prom,” Kelly confessed. “I chose not to attend some of my classes. (Most of his classes.) I was more interested in camping, pretty girls, and good weather. Kelly said he actually missed two-thirds of his high school classes, dropped out and so on.

What the hell was 16-year-old Jesse Kelly thinking?

“I was just into Mountain Dew and basketball and video games,” he said. “I lived in Montana. There wasn’t much else to do. We were surrounded by mountains. Every weekend we took sleeping bags, shotguns because there were a lot of wild animals.

All of the above, and chasing after girls, was a full-time job for Kelly. Who had time for silly old school?

“I don’t mean to sound like an old man,” Kelly began, “but that’s all we did. We had never heard of drugs outside of pot, and kids today are into fentanyl and so on. An incredible difference compared to when I was a child.

With his height, you might have assumed he would have been the star basketball player – and he could have been.

“I played until my sophomore year in high school,” Kelly said. “The coach licked his chops, anticipating my arrival in his team. I chose not to after second year. My father was mad; the coach was furious.

Expectations were clear as Kelly’s father played well enough to play basketball on a scholarship.

“I guess I was a little rebellious,” Kelly said.

You think?

If he lived in Indiana, avoiding basketball would have been sacrilege. In Montana, it’s not so bad.

Moving to Montana was a bit of a culture shock for a guy whose family had tentacles deep in Ohio’s Rust Belt.

“My dad and cousins ​​were all in the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and especially the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Kelly said. “I wanted to follow something different, so I went with the New York Giants. In baseball, it was the White Sox. I wanted to be like The Big Hurt (Frank Thomas.)”

Kelly is not interested in the “traditional trap” set for American children. He doesn’t believe a child possesses go to college right away, if ever. In fact, he told his sons that they weren’t authorized go to college until they “find themselves”.

“My 11-year-old son is my clone,” Kelly said. “He’s starting to see what dad does for a living and thinks it’s cool. He said he also wanted to go on the radio. I told him I would help him as much as I could, but first he had to live his life, get some life experience.

Her eldest son is 13 and has a spirit that Kelly says must have come from somewhere else. “He’s a different cat,” Kelly said. “His mind works differently. He can pick up a bucket of random Legos, throw them on the ground, and he’ll build a spaceship. I’m not talking about the kind of arrangement where a parent pats their son on the head in support, saying, “Yeah, that kinda sounds like a spaceship. My son actually spends 18 hours on the project and builds a spaceship, down to the smallest detail; something NASA would be proud of.

For a guy who hated school, you’d think books would be like Kryptonite. Surprisingly, Kelly reads a lot. “I am an obsessive reader. I had read Louis L’Amour, the boy from the border. I switched to military books, loved everything about the Marines. He said those books are part of the reason he ended up joining the Marines.

So what was the impetus to become a Marine?

“I was a piece of shit,” Kelly said candidly. “I barely finished high school. In my first semester at Montana State, I “earned” a grade point average of 0.0. That might even qualify for the Montana state farewell. They even let him stay for a second semester before he was released on bail.

I asked Kelly exactly what it would take to earn a 0.0 GPA.

“Remarkably small,” he deadpanned. “Sleeping in helps. Hunt women. Attend half of your finals.

Kelly was a kid who watched John Wayne movies. He was so inspired by the fictional Navy that he woke up one morning, went downtown, and signed up to become a Marine.

“My parents were furious that I joined,” he said. “When I told them I was going to infantry, they were 10 times crazier.”

Kelly soon found himself on a bus heading to San Diego. “You know what’s coming,” he said of training camp. “You shoot. The drill instructors are lined up and hop on the bus before it stops yelling at you. It was just the welcoming committee.

He was then deployed to Iraq as an infantry marine during the Second Persian Gulf War.

Possessing a natural distrust of authority upon his arrival, the situation worsened. “The most telling moment for me in Iraq was not the combat. We were invading Iraq heading north. We are all proud patriots. We learned that we had to remove our American flags, which were draped over our Amtrak train.

Kelly said he and his comrades felt betrayed by their country. “I guess they didn’t want us to look like invaders.”

This is the part of the show where we talk about how the subject of the interview got into the radio. This one is a doozy.

Kelly was discharged from the Marines with an honorable discharge after four years. He moved to Arizona, where he worked in construction.

In 2010, with no political experience but a box full of opinions, Kelly ran for Congress in a Democratic-controlled district of Arizona. Despite being a virtual unknown in the race, he was only narrowly beaten by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“I got crazy about Obama and ran for Congress,” Kelly explained.

During a campaign stop, he was waiting to go on the air with journalist Jon Justice. “I was in a separate studio, and a guy I didn’t know came in. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him. He was a radio producer and asked me if I had ever thought of a career in radio. It was a bit strange.

The stranger’s words planted a seed in Kelly’s brain, and that seed was soon to sprout. After the attempted policy, Kelly moved to Texas without a job; I was penniless and got a job selling RVs.

Kelly became active on social media, and talk radio kingpin Michael Berry in Houston noticed a post Kelly had made and asked if he’d like to appear on his show.

“Guess I just killed live,” Kelly said. “He kept me on the phone for three segments. We had a blast.

In a celebratory gesture, Kelly went all out and hopped into a Taco Bell for a real treat. Then his phone rang. It was Michael Berry again, and they chatted for half an hour, an uneaten Chilupa in Kelly’s hand. “After that, we started hanging out, drinking bourbon and smoking cigars. He convinced me that I had a future in radio.

Apparently he did.

KPRC in Houston gave it a 7-8 p.m. slot as a trial. “I just started talking. I didn’t know anything. No one had ever taught me what to do. He had to really kill again, somehow finding an audience. KPRC gave it a second hour.

Out of radio blue, Key Networks came calling and told Kelly they thought his show had chops. The Jesse Kelly Show debuted as a three-hour program in national syndication in April 2020.

It just keeps getting better.

After just one year on Key Networks, Julie Talbott, President of Premiere Networks, kept the happy streak going.

Kelly joined Premiere Networks’ national lineup on June 28, 2021.

“I didn’t even know who Julie Talbott was, and she was listening my show,” he said. “After all the farting jokes I told, she was still listening,” Kelly explained. “Premiere gave me a 6-9 berth in Houston. My wife nearly fainted from excitement.

Kelly is definitely not a guy who looks full of himself; that alone is refreshing. “I don’t know why people listen to me; I don’t know why affiliates are happy. I’ll take it,” Kelly said.

The man has an honest and authentic approach to radio. That should be obvious, considering it airs on 200 stations across the country.

Sometimes having a strategically placed horseshoe can take you a long way.