Why He’s Top 40: For going beyond the sound bites to reflect the hidden stories behind Edmonton’s culture and community
Whether its rappelling down the side of a highrise building, cuddling a skunk or taking a beating at the hands of a mixed martial arts fighter, Ryan Jespersen does it all for the love of the city.
As the personable morning host of Breakfast Television, Jespersen sees himself as a humble ambassador of Edmonton to his morning viewers. “I try to reflect what people want to see in their city,” he says. “The show allows me to connect with the community in a grassroots way, which is incredibly enriching, both in a professional and personal way.”
After joining Citytv in 2005, Jespersen quickly moved up the ranks from Red Deer’s bureau chief to various positions in Edmonton, including videographer and remote host of Your City. When the opportunity came along to host BT, Jespersen jumped at the challenge to lead a quality ensemble in a personality-driven broadcasting format. “The position allows me to integrate some personality into the show and it allows me to show people a part of me that I otherwise might not have been able to,” says Jespersen, whose family has ties to the city for five generations.
While some people might cringe at the idea of finding enough material every weekday to fill four hours of television, Jespersen says the show has barely scratched the surface when it comes to featuring engaging individuals and issues of importance to Edmontonians.
One example of Jespersen digging deeper to find a story involves Leo Seguin, a Westlock farmer he interviewed for a basic crop story. After finding out that Seguin was the founder of Rainbow for the Future – an Alberta-based charitable agency dedicated to the organization and integration of sustainable development efforts throughout Africa – Jespersen took a three-week trip to Ethiopia to showcase the group’s excellent work in a mini-series.
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Other highlights for Jespersen include interviewing Jay Leno, Bob Barker and Richard Lewis, people he has always admired. When not engaging TV viewers, Jespersen can be found donating his spare time to numerous causes, including Movember, Sorrentino’s Compassion House, the Special Olympics and World Vision, often alongside his wife, Kari Skelton of 96.3 Capital FM.
As for his plans for the future, Jespersen says he is dedicated to getting his hands dirty and doing his best to represent the initiatives, people and stories that reflect Edmonton. “There’s so many worthwhile stories not being told,” he says. “I feel really lucky to have such a special position in the community.”