As host of Citytv’s Breakfast Television and co-host of the Up! 99.3’s Wake Up! Show respectively, Ryan Jespersen and Kari Skelton are seen and heard by thousands of Edmontonians every weekday morning. Since marrying three years ago, they’ve become the city’s pre-eminent broadcast power couple. But their first meeting wasn’t that romantic.
“It was a media scrum in the lobby of the Black Knight Inn in Red Deer,” says Skelton, “and in walks Ryan. He comes right into the scrum and starts asking all the questions. And I was thinking, ‘Who is this guy stepping on my turf?’”
Even though they were competing radio and TV journalists, they formed a friendship, which turned into love. It was a love that they had to hide and a love that didn’t stop their competitive spirits. They never told their bosses (although they figured it out eventually and didn’t tell the couple) and the couple never shared news tips with each other.
Once, while on a date, Ryan got info about a possible shooting. He made an excuse about having to work early and left, thinking he had fooled her. But he didn’t. The instant he was gone, she was on the phone, chasing the same story.
The deceptions happened more than once.
“We had to come to terms with essentially deceiving each other in the line of duty. But in the grand scheme of things, it was never an issue,” Jespersen says.
Fortunately for them, Jespersen moved to Edmonton to work at Citytv as a reporter and was later promoted to his position at Breakfast Television. A year later, Skelton moved north as well, first working as a news and entertainment host for radio and, in March 2011, became co-host of the Wake Up! Show on Up! 99.3. That means they’re no longer competitors and don’t have to keep secrets from each other.
The main difficulty for the two at the moment is finding time to connect with each other. Outside of their day jobs, both are deeply involved and often invited to various charitable or gala events. So while they may be at an event together, they are essentially at work, schmoozing with the crowd instead of hanging with each other.
“It’s nice to work in the same industry, because we have an understanding of what each other is dealing with on a day-to-day basis,” says Skelton.
“But we have to find the balance; it can’t be all one thing. Sometimes we just throw the entire schedule out and go see a matinee. Or we have ‘Techless Tuesdays,’ where we shut off all devices and sit and read together. And that’s great for us.”