Public Radio host and alum Jesse Thorn to podcast live from Kuumbwa

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UC Santa Cruz and KZSC alumni Jordan Morris (left), and Jesse Thorn
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Jesse Thorn, interviewing Stephen Colbert in New York. A 2003 graduate of UC Santa Cruz, he majored in American Studies with a focus on expressive cultures.

UC Santa Cruz alums Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris will return to Santa Cruz this Friday evening, April 24, for a live taping of their popular podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! at The Kuumbwa Jazz Center.

All proceeds will benefit KZSC, the UC Santa Cruz radio station where they both got their start.

Thorn is the host of National Public Radio’s Bullseye (formerly known as The Sound of Young America), a weekly celebration of the best of arts and culture. The show is syndicated throughout the country.

Morris is an actor who has also written for the Comedy Central show @midnight and Fuel TV’s The Daily Habit.

Now a resident of Los Angeles, Thorn described what people can expect to see at Friday’s show in Santa Cruz.

Jordan Jesse Go! is a very sweet-tempered, open-hearted extravaganza of vulgarity,” said Thorn. “It's going to be a particular extravaganza at the Kuumbwa, too--we booked UCSC's all-female a capella group, the Hightones. And we've got one of the country's only comedian/poet/novelist/addiction counseling experts in Bucky Sinister.”

“We've also got a legendary figure in Bay Area indie rock circles, the singer/songwriter and producer John Vanderslice,” he added. “And we'll have a game of ‘Would You Rather’ with our friend Jim Real--he used to play with us on the air back in our college days, and these days he's a laser scientist. "

"We're also accepting applications for anyone who can play our theme music on the didgeridoo.”

Thorn added that what people shouldn't expect to see at the Kuumbwa show is a public radio show, noting that Jordan Jesse Go! is more of a direct outgrowth of the comedy that he and Morris used to do on their show back in college. “We wrote radio plays, did a couple of shows from the base of campus in our underpants, that kind of thing.”

“KZSC was a really special opportunity for us,” Thorn observed. “Rarely is a place like that--so wild and free--also so competent and nurturing. We both owe a lot to the station and to its just retired faculty advisor Michael Bryant, who always encouraged us to explore our muses. Our comedy and broadcasting careers started there, so it's a thrill to be able to offer something in return.”

The benefit show takes place in the midst of the 50th anniversary Alumni Weekend at UC Santa Cruz. It’s also during KZSC's Spring Pledge Drive, which runs April 21 through April 30.

“We hope the benefit at Kuumbwa will be a gathering place for all the returning alumni and also our longtime local listeners to celebrate the collective creation that is KZSC,” noted station manager Keith Rozendal. “UC Santa Cruz didn't start out with a radio station, but students built one right away in 1967. A lot of our audience has been tuning in for years, and we hear a lot of fond memories about KZSC shows and personalities from the past.”

“Some of our alumni may not know that we broadcast at 20,000 watts now, to the entire Monterey Bay and up the Salinas River valley,” he added. “And kzsc.org is the way to connect from afar.”

As for Jesse, he’s glad to be coming back to Santa Cruz for this year's Alumni Weekend.

“Fifty years of UCSC is kind of tough to imagine--it still feels like a crazy upstart,” said Thorn. “I was lucky to study with some professors who were there at the beginning, and they told us some amazing stories.”

“The best of UC Santa Cruz, I think, is that it's a public school with a renegade vision--which is something you don't find every day,” he added. “We're excited to be there for this big weekend.”


The live taping of Jordan, Jesse, Go! will take place at The Kuumbwa Jazz Center (320 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz) on Friday, April 24, beginning at 9 p.m. Doors open at 8:30. Tickets are $20 and proceeds benefit KZSC radio at UC Santa Cruz. 

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