August 26, 2018
Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today we are shining the light on Jesse Modz.
As the CORUS General Manager for Eastern Ontario (my last post before I decided to go out on my own as a talent/content coach), Kingston was one of the markets I oversaw, and after 365’er Brad Gibb left for London, I hired 365’er Steph Stephanie Spring (Hunter) who in turn hired a young guy by the name of Jesse Modz. Jesse had just come in from out west and it was clear from the start this lad had a great spark, fearless, respectful, hard working, ambitious, collegial and a hell of a networker. He was into mornings in no time at FM 96, did a great job, and we all knew he wasn’t long for the Kingston market.
Jesse grew up playing hockey with the son of Paul-Carol Mott, the Mott’s (1010 CFRB) and was intrigued with radio from the first time he saw them broadcast their show at one of their hockey tournaments. They would let him come and intern with them in the summers while he was in highschool. The second he walked into the radio station for the first time he knew it was what he wanted to do.
Off he went into the Humber College Radio Broadcasting Program, and became an intern at 102.1 The Edge which was a great fit for him, and a fantastic opportunity. The Dean Blundell Show with Jason Barr and Todd Shapiro was the show that made him fall in love with radio and hearing them have so much fun in the morning was the reason he chased this dream so hard.
He got out into the business as fast as he could getting his first radio job doing mornings at Big Dog 103.5 in Lac La Biche, Alberta. He didn’t even know what province the job was in but it didn’t matter. He had applied to so many jobs and got rejected so many times, he literally took the first gig where someone said “we’ll hire you” and he asked questions later. He was only there for 3 months: “But it was long enough to meet a girl and we are still together with two beautiful boys with, Nixon and Maxton.”
Next stop was mornings at 94X in Prince George B.C. and then back east for the FM 96 job in Kingston. Many things impress me about him including having children at a very young age. We too had kids around that age and raising the boys on a pretty low salary and trying to build a career at the same time is always a challenge. Jesse loves his kids and like us, found ways to make it all work in the early days.
Then his life changed when he took over for the late and great Iron Mike Bensson at 97.7 HTZ-FM. He and his family always listened to HTZ-FM, so it was a dream come true to work at the station he grew up with. I have mentioned a number of times in my 365’s how much I liked that station (still do) and I was pleased that Program Director Jeff Winskell brought Jesse into the ‘White House of Rock’ because I knew they would give him the freedom to carve it out, and he did! They encourage crazy stuff there, more so than most statons in north America and Jesse consistently created his fair share.
One that really got attention says Jesse: “I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything bigger than when I pranked a scalper trying to sell Tragically Hip tickets the day they went on sale for The Hips last tour. The bit was talked about on CNN, Much Music, The Huffington Post, Global TV, CTV, AUX TV that week I did over 20 interviews across Canada and the U.S. talking about the bit. The band loved it and I also got to go to 2 of the last shows on The Hips last tour.”
He remembers interning with Fearless Fred at 102.1 the Edge (now afternoons at Q107), and hearing about Fred winning the Canadian Music Week Alan Waters Young Broadcaster award in memory of the late and great Steve Young. This is an award for the top broadcaster under the age of thirty. Fred said how much it meant to him and after he told him the story, Jesse said that one day he was going to win it too. That dream came true in 2017: “I don’t know if I’ll ever win an award that means more to me than that. Every time I see the award in my home it makes me smile and symbolizes all the hard work I am giving to this industry.”
Steve Young who sadly passed away way too young a decade ago, would have loved this lad, particularly for his creativity, boldness, hard work, consistency and ability to network (‘dray’ as Steve would say-:). Even in Kingston it amazed me how many people Jesse knew in the music and radio world.
I was also very happy when Jesse went to work as a co-host with the legendary 365’er Ger Forbsie Gerry Forbes, and JD Lewis at CJAY 92 in Calgary. It was clear there was a succession plan in place because da’ Forbsah had signalled that he was going to retire sometime soon. Gerry is one of the most generous guys out there and I knew he would take Jesse under his wing, and take him through finishing school. And that’s where Jesse is today creating morning mayhem stuff with JD Lewis in THE ALL NEW CJAY MORNING SHOW WITH JESSE & JD. Listen to them on line. They are a riot.
Jesse has had a number of great experiences in his career so far including introducing Metallica in front of 65,000 people in Edmonton, a moment he’ll never forget.
Jesse was there from the beginning with ‘The Glorious Sons’ (the real deal who won Rock Album of the Year for “Young Beauties and Fools”, one of my favourite records, at the 2018 Juno’s).
Jesse says it was amazing being there from the start and watching them grow into one of Canada’s biggest bands.
Jesse sums up: “ Industry wise, I wouldn’t be where I am without Jeff Murray, Rick Flumian, Kevin Cotter, JJ Johnston, Ange Stever, Rae Kelly, Bob Harris, Jeff Winskell, Chris Biggs, Pastey Jamie, Brett Poole, Paul Morris, Chad Martin, Stew Meyers, JD Lewis, Lewis MacDonald, Paul Mott, Carol Mott, Fearless Fred, and 365’ers Steph Hunter, Gerry Forbes, and Jason Barr…I know I am missing people. My apologies. These people have made me the broadcaster I am today and I can’t thank them enough.”
Jesse is still a very young guy and there is so much more to come for him. He’s smart, edgy but respectful, and has the guts, determination, work ethic and creativity to go all the way. I suspect we will see him in North America’s largest markets waking people up with hi-jinks and belly laughs. Proud of ya man! Keep it going Jesse.
Thank you, Jesse Modz for being one of the “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share the Jesse’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? As they say, stay tuned.
Jim JJ Johnston is the CEO, President and Chief Talent/Content Coach for JJIMS INC. and works with talent in many different industries worldwide.