This week we have Jenna Jones in the Shes_Trending interview corner. Jenna is the host of the First Lady Show for Detroit Sports Podcast. We first encountered Jenna in the midst of her career as a news correspondent for Fox Sports and ESPN in Arizona. Like any MVP in the game, there’s a story behind the player along with understanding the thirst for more when you’re destined for greatness. With the First Lady Show on the rise, Jenna is becoming the new voice of Detroit sports fans and making an impact in the community she calls home.
ST: Who is Jenna Jones, what do you do, and why?
JJ: Where do I start? I’m 24 years old, Host of the First Lady Show, and an entrepreneurial mind. Growing up I would see my dad running his own business and the work ethic he had translated into who I am today. I am always creating new opportunities out of nothing. I started out in radio cold turkey with having no experience. I just started knocking on doors, basically demanding that someone listen to me, and what I had to say. I created that opportunity for myself. Now, I am back in my home state, my roots and creator of the First Lady Show.
ST: What do you hope to accomplish with your new podcast?
JJ: When I moved back to Michigan from Arizona, I had sworn off radio altogether. I don’t want to knock the opportunity that I had before but basically 99% of radio in the FM standpoint is for entertainment value, which is great, but I wanted to create a voice for the fans to make a difference. That’s the whole reason why I got into radio in the first place. So many times as fans, we are forced to listen to the cut-and-dry cookie cutter questions that the media ask these athletes and coaches. You do not get a better sense of who they are as people and you do not receive insight into where the team is headed or what’s in the heads of these athletes. The Detroit Sports Radio Podcast approached and informed me that they had heard about some of my work in Phoenix. They told me that I couldn’t stop, and that I have to come back. They offered me the platform for my podcast and with that hooked line and sinker, I’m back in Detroit.
With the First Lady Show, I wanted to ask the tougher questions and get the fans completely involved. I see it developing to where the fans are interacting with the show through social media and calling in with their questions. Whether I have to dig deeper to get the tough questions answered or beat the editors to write tough questions; I want to be able to do that for the fans. After the first episode, I had an overwhelmingly positive response, and I am excited to see where it goes.
ST: Tell us about your background. What was life like growing up in Michigan and when did you develop a love for sports?
JJ: I grew up in a small town called West Branch Michigan, graduated with a small group of people, and since that time, the community drove me to understand the importance of getting to know the people around you. I come from a town where the biggest social event for the week was high school football on Friday nights. Everyone would pour in from town to come to games on Friday nights, tailgate, and I always wanted to be a part of that.
During my high school years, I tried out for sports but did not make the cut due to my heart murmur. So instead of being discouraged, my father encouraged me to be a team manager. My father coached basketball and football, and I became the team manager to help out. I got a sense of what goes on behind the scenes with those particular sports. The stat keeping aspect, the whole team management aspect, and having conversations with my dad about coaching and watching the practices made me fall in love with the process of watching an athlete go from nothing to a superstar. I also developed a love with the process of what goes into the plays in the game, what plays teams run, and everything else that goes on during the preparation process.
ST: Growing up, did you always know that you wanted to be a sports broadcaster or an on-air radio personality?
JJ: Growing Up, I did not have this dream of becoming a sports broadcaster or an on-air personality. I think being able to be behind the scenes in sports and getting into theatre while in high school naturally culminated together to give me the drive and the passion. By fluke, I went on the Adam Corolla Show. He asked me what my dream was, and I said, “It will never happen, but I think it would be so cool to be a sideline reporter in the NBA.” He gave me a shot on the spot and said, “I am going to act like a player on the court, and you can interview me.” Afterwards, he let me know if I can develop my talent and go for it. Now I just feel like I am an unstoppable freight train and just want to use this platform not just to give the fans a new perspective but to try to make a difference here in Detroit as well.
ST: You have a wealth of knowledge about a lot of sports. So if you could become a professional athlete in any sport, what would it be and why?
JJ: For me, it’s nice to know if I’m having an off day; my team is going to carry me. Football does that at its best and everyone carries’ each other through victories and losses, but there’s so much violence in the sport and so much physical repercussion after. I am going to have to go with basketball because that’s a sport where you can still prove your physical ability as an athlete but you still somewhat have to rely on your team to get you through successes. If I had to choose an era, I would be back in Detroit during the “Bad Boy’s” era because they had the passion, blood, sweat, tears, and grit behind every single play.
ST: In the next 5 years, which Detroit sports team is most likely to win a championship?
JJ: I hate to keep being a basketball fanatic, but Stan Van Gundy is really doing some silent magic with the Detroit Pistons right now. I think fans of other teams around the league will be surprised.
ST: Everyone that follows you on social media may know that you are a connoisseur of pizza and wine. Describe your perfect pizza and what is your go-to wine?
JJ: Starting with the wines, right now I like a nice Cabernet Sauvignon by 19 Crimes. It has just enough sweet and spice and will go with any kind of pizza sauce, which is a big deal for me. The perfect pizza is going to have a little bit of a sweeter sauce, lots of cheese and probably going to be a deep dish pizza.
ST: If we were in Detroit, where would you take us for the best pizza?
JJ: There is a place down the road from me called Zino’s Pizza. They have the perfect cheese that does not get greasy when you bake it. That’s my biggest pet peeve when I have to mop the grease off the top of the cheese. I don’t know what kind of cheese they use, but it’s so good, and so stringy, and not greasy.
ST: Vince Lombardi once said, “A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” What does this quote mean to you?
JJ: That quote means everything to me, and that’s why I included it on my Facebook page. That quote is my mantra, and I have it on my restroom mirror. I look at it every single morning to re-motivate myself every day. To say I faced adversity throughout my life is an understatement and to say that I’ve had to play with the hand I’ve been dealt is absolutely accurate. I couldn’t play sports so I learned to develop my love for sports in other ways. I was bullied throughout my childhood and even to this day. There are always going to be people who doubt your abilities to do things, and if you find the love for yourself within yourself to say I deserved to achieve every single one of my dreams, and I am going to bust my ass my to make it happen, you can do whatever you want.
ST: Autism is something that touches home with you. Can you let us know what you are doing to raise awareness and how can people help?
JJ: 6 Years ago, my Goddaughter Peyton was born with Autism. To see Peyton grow up and face all of her adversity has been very inspiring to me. I feel like it is my job as a role model in her life to make sure her life can be as smooth and successful as it possibly can be. So whether it’s inspiring her through my actions, showing her that if you put your mind to something, you can do it no matter what obstacles are in your way. More importantly, I think that Autism Awareness and the Autism Speaks is so important because Autism now affects 1 in 68 children (Autism Speaks Foundation), and so many parents are reaching desperately for any resources so that they can be the best parent they can be for their children is heartbreaking. My aunt had to go through this, and my mother sees this on a daily basis as a special education teacher.
This Awareness is something that has touched me personally, and I want to raise it through my podcast. This September, I will be participating in the Autism Speaks walk in Detroit, and I am raising funds for this cause. If you want to donate and learn more, you can go to www.autismspeakswalk.org. This Awareness is something that is not going to end for me in September because it’s something I am very passionate about and I want to help raise more awareness.
ST: With all of our interviews, we like to sign off by saying thank you! We know that you’re trending, which is why we chose you to be one of our featured guests. In honor of our tradition, we would like you to finish this sentence… My name is Jenna Jones, host of the First Lady Show. I am trending because…
JJ: I am aiming to make a difference in Detroit.