By Bob Hamill
Since my move to Pigeon Forge 23 years ago, I have been an enthusiastic listener of our local station Mix 105.5 FM. While I don’t drive a lot whenever I’m in the car, chances are if it’s in the morning, the Redneck, Jay Adams and the Redcoat, Steve Hartford, will be dispensing their questionable knowledge. The music the station plays is the best of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today.
There’s a fresh new voice at the Mix. The Midday drive now features Jess Henson, aka Gypsy Jess. When I spoke to her, I was amazed at 24, she was just celebrating her first year in radio.
Jess was born in Knoxville and grew up in Jefferson County with her Grandfather who owns a farm in New Market. There were times things didn’t always go so well at the farm and at 16, Jess hit the road. She loved sleeping under the stars but her car was no Four Seasons and being a vagabond was fun for just so long. While on the road, Jess learned a lot about music going to festivals and concerts.
Things got better at home and Jess headed back to the farm in New Market. Her mother got a job as an account executive. Jess jot a job as a part time do everything. During that time, the station needed someone to fill in the mid-day spot. Jess got her chance by reading two commercials. One was for a Church and the other for Sexy Stuff. The manager needed to know her range.
Jess is a fountain of knowledge and I found her secret to keeping people informed and guessing. What would we do without the internet? “Most of the time I surf the internet for things you don’t normally hear or see on the news”. She commented “One of my favorites is the official and unofficial calendar. It gives everyone a chance to celebrate almost anything.
Her mentors are Kasey Kasem and her step dad Jay Adams. “Jay pretty much showed me the ropes. Along with his morning partner Steve they have been marvelous and I learned how really big their hearts are. A lot of people think they only do the forgotten child around Christmas they do so much more. They are my inspiration.
Jess is having a blast doing what she does but she does have aspirations of producing music. I’ have never learned how to play an instrument but would love to learn and be in a different role behind the microphone”
There are times I get to my destination and stay in the car to listen for five minutes more.