Two new faces come to WKSU

Breanne George

New reporters bring experience to their new jobs at WKSU

Renita Jablonski, host of “Your Way Home,” which starts Jan. 30 from 6-6:30pm, and Daniel Hockensmith, bureau director of WKSU in Stark-Wayne County, are two new personalities of WKSU 89.7. Jablonski and Hockensmith were hired in December and will fo

Credit: Steve Schirra

The New Year brings two fresh faces to Kent State’s radio station 89.7 WKSU.

Award-winning reporters Renita Jablonski and Daniel Hockensmith were hired in December to continue the station’s goal of reporting regional news timely and effectively.

“Both reporters are well-versed and attentive to the topics important to Northeast Ohio,” WKSU Executive Director Al Bartholet said. “They bring enthusiasm and depth of experience.”

Jablonski, 28, of Cuyahoga Falls, will host and produce a new program called “Your Way Home” that will air from 6 to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays beginning Jan. 30.

“I’m excited to start something new,” Jablonski said. “There is nothing like this in the region.”

The program will be a news magazine that focuses on regional topics of interest to listeners such as politics and the economy.

“It will also have different elements such as in-depth feature stories complete with sound bites and interviews,” Jablonski said. “I wanted to do something fun.”

News Director Dave Pignanelli, who hired both reporters, worked with Jablonski at WCPN, a public radio station in Cleveland.

“Jablonski had been a morning edition and talk show host so I knew she would bring a lot of experience in hosting capacity,” he said. “She is a natural to host the new program.”

Jablonski said her goal for the year is to continue the mission of WKSU – to provide regional news that is in-depth and thoughtful.

“WKSU has a great reputation here,” she said. “I have an opportunity to really focus on the issues of Northeast Ohio and take the station in a new direction.”

Hockensmith, 34, of Fairlawn, was hired as bureau chief of the Stark and Wayne County station to re-establish contacts in those areas.

“These counties are a regional powerhouse,” Hockensmith said. “I want to get out in the community and find out what listeners want to hear about.”

Pignanelli said Hockensmith’s main tasks will be reporting and producing.

“WKSU’s existence is to serve the community,” Pignanelli said. “He will report local issues that need to be told in-depth and find interesting feature stories on topics such as art and


Hockensmith said he is glad to finally make the switch from commercial to public radio.

“I have been a public radio consumer all my life,” he said. “I think the news quality is exceptional. WKSU has the ability to take a simple story – whether it is human interest or investigative – and turn it into a really great news story.”

Both reporters have numerous accolades to their name. Most notably, Jablonski was the recipient of a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for her reporting on the eminent domain issue in Lakewood. Hockensmith also received the Murrow Award for his series on riverboat casino gambling. He was named best reporter in Ohio from the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters.

“It was incredible to be named best reporter since I have only been working in the field for 10 years,” he said. “I thought it would have taken a lot longer to receive such an honor.”

Contact student politics reporter Breanne George at [email protected].