Former TV reporter Jenell Walton is returning to her broadcasting roots as Cincinnati Public Radio's vice president of content beginning March 1.
The Cincinnati native was a reporter and anchor at WCPO-TV, and a reporter for The List nationally syndicated news magazine and WLWT, for 16 years before working for Cincinnati Metro, the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"I'm a big fan of Cincinnati Public Radio, WVXU and WGUC both," says Walton, a Bond Hill resident. "I listen to Morning Edition, Science Friday, 1A and the 90 Second Naturalist. I love classical music, I find it very relaxing."
Walton, a Withrow High School and Miami University graduate, replaces Chris Phelps, who is leaving Cincinnati Public Radio after 30 years. The vice president of content oversees all programming on classical music WGUC-FM and non-news programming on WVXU-FM, as well as marketing, outreach, events and online/social media activities.
Phelps "will transition into the role of Content VP Emeritus during the first few weeks of Jenell's tenure to assist with the transition," says Richard Eiswerth, Cincinnati Public Radio president and general manager of WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM.
Walton, most recently the Convention and Visitors Bureau vice president of communications and strategic development, was hired after "an exhaustive nationwide search and weeks of review, discussion, remote interviews and input" from managers and staffers, Eiswerth says.
"The travel industry took a big hit during COVID-19, and I was let go in December," Walton says. "Everything in the Cincinnati Public Radio job description fit my wheelhouse. It was a perfect fit."
Her first public speaking experience was delivering morning announcements at Withrow for three years. She was a reporter and afternoon drive anchor at Miami University's WMUB-FM, now operated by Cincinnati Public Radio.
After graduating with a mass communications degree in 1994, Walton started her career in public radio at WVUB FM 91.1 in Vincennes, Ind. A year later, she switched to television at WTVW-TV in Evansville, Ind., before working at Dayton's WDTN-TV as a reporter, writer and associate producer.
She came home to WCPO-TV, where she worked from 2000 to 2015 as a reporter and weekend morning and noon anchor. In 2012, she was named a reporter for The List, produced by Cincinnati-based Scripps, which owns WCPO-TV.
Walton was a reporter for a year at WLWT-TV before leaving journalism to join Cincinnati Metro in April 2016. By the end of the year, she was hired by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio as vice president for marketing, communications and key initiatives. She was named vice president of communications for the convention and visitor's bureau in March 2019.
"I've come full circle. I started in public radio, and transitioned to television, and then left broadcasting for the communications and public relations side, and now I'm back in public radio," Walton says.
Phelps joined WGUC-FM in 1991, three years before the classical music station changed its relationship with the University of Cincinnati and became a separate tax-exempt nonprofit, Cincinnati Classical Radio Inc. The name changed again when the station purchased Xavier University's WVXU-FM in 2005.
"While we celebrate the addition of Jenell to our management ranks, we gratefully wish to acknowledge the immeasurable contributions and steadfast leadership Chris Phelps has provided Cincinnati Public Radio over the past three decades," Eiswerth says.
John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. Cincinnati Public Radio only edits his articles for style and grammar.