By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Jennie Grabel is caught in the whirlwind of a new job.
As KXCI 93.1’s new program director and membership coordinator, Grabel is involved in the day-to-day operations of the volunteer and staff programmers.
“I have a new job and there’s a lot going on at a 24-7, seven-day-a-week radio station,” says Grabel, who attended Rincon High School. “I’m thrilled. I love it. There’s a lot of information coming at me. I like to feel organized and I’m on top of things, but I have to let that go right now. I’m flying by the seat of my pants right now—but I love it.”
Grabel is a familiar face – and voice –to the independent radio station. She hosted the Afternoon Music Mix on the station from 2000 to 2004. Before her return, she spent three years as director of community impact at Social Venture Partners Tucson.
“It feels incredible and like a true blessing,” says Grabel of returning to KXCI. “I’m humbled by the opportunity. The love I have for Tucson and KXCI is boundless. Radio is an extraordinary means of connection to community through music, public affairs and mini-programming.”
The first day of her return, Grabel was bombarded with text messages and phone calls from friends wishing her well – and requesting music.
“It was so cool to connect in that way,” she says.
Surprisingly, Grabel’s ambition wasn’t to DJ, per se. She just kept up on the news and wanted to share it.
“I never was the kid who had the talent,” she says. “I was the kid who emceed the talent show. I introduced all the acts.”
Upon graduating from University of Arizona, where she earned an interdisciplinary degree, she took time to figure out her career path.
“I found myself drawn to seeing what music was coming out, and what concerts were coming to town,” she says. “I took a DJ class and fell in love with radio here. I was discovered while I was on the air at KXCI. Our local Triple A (adult album alternative) Clear Channel station called while I was on the air. They wanted to have lunch with me.”
Grabel spent eight years at the former radio station 92.9 The Mountain, which transitioned to My 92.9, a hot adult contemporary station shortly after she was let go.
“It was this extraordinary opportunity. I was offered a morning show and helped with the music scheduling. This dream story fell into my lap. It was amazing.”
She also served as executive director of the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding (FCRU), an organization started following the January 8, 2011, shooting. In that role, she learned the value of giving voice to nonprofits by sharing their powerful work with the community.
“Jennie has always been a wonderful bridge between the nonprofit community and the for-profit sector,” says KXCI Executive Director Cathy Rivers. “Her talent, kindness and love for Tucson is an inspiration and an asset to our community and we couldn’t be happier to have her on our team.”
She has fond memories of her career, which has happily brought her back to KXCI.
Her first interview was with musician Michael Franti, someone who continues to be her favorite.
“Michael Franti was awesome,” she says. “This was about 2001, 2002. I’ve interviewed him a number of times since. He’s one of my top three musicians of all time.”
Grabel calls it a homecoming. When she saw the posting for her current position, she knew it was time to return.
“I thought, ‘Wow. This must be it,’” she says. “I felt like an intersection of great timing and something I believe strongly in. It’s really like a homecoming.
“Things work in a cyclical manner. It felt like the right time to come home and get back into this world that I just adore – music and community connections.”