Brandon Ison comes to Chicago after spending the last decade in Seattle, Washington. Commuting to Portland, Oregon, he wore many hats at FM News 101 KXL: anchoring newscasts, reporting breaking news and producing content for the many national talk radio programs that operated out of the Portland studios where he worked, including but not limited to Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis, Around The House with Eric G., and Our Auto Expert with Nik Miles.
For several years, he has also supplied CBS News Radio with coverage on breaking and developing stories from the Pacific Northwest to be heard nationwide.
After receiving his first “Mr. Microphone” at the age of 4, he continued to sing and perform in church and school plays and took theatre classes in junior high and high school, where he also provided the school with live morning news updates over the intercom system, which later evolved into video announcements broadcast to television sets in each high school classroom.
Needless to say, Brandon knew what he wanted to do with his life at a very young age. Growing up in rural Eastern Washington, there were only three television stations. He heavily relied on his radio for companionship and entertainment, and in his young mind the only profession more respectable than the military and law enforcement careers his parents and grandparents had chosen was to be on the radio.
Brandon began his radio career in 1996 as an overnight country DJ at KXDD-FM in Yakima, Washington when he was just 16 years old. He had already enrolled in broadcasting school and become the Program Director of the local college radio station, KYSC-FM. The next year, he had taken second place in a Washington state radio broadcasting competition, nudged out of first place only by his longtime classmate, friend, colleague, co-mentor and perpetual nemesis Mojoe Roberts (currently the Content Director of KPUL-FM 98.7 The Bull and Country Format Captain for Alpha Media USA).
Mojoe alternated programming duties with Brandon while each worked full-time positions in commercial radio and their college station began to register in local ratings. Their idea of what it means to be a successful radio station was taking shape. The idea revolved around heavy involvement with the community, giving the community a voice, a chance to participate, and broadcasting compelling content that included songs from any local band who could bring a tape down. Brandon even helped some bands get signed to a label. This was before either of them had even graduated high school.
By 1997, Brandon had covered his first local breaking news stories and was anchoring newscasts for KIT-AM in Yakima. He spent many more years in radio, moving to Boise, Idaho, where, after producing a No. 1-rated morning show there and spending a couple of years writing, voicing, and producing parody songs and spoof commercials for the Satellite Comedy Network out of Los Angeles (run by the producers for Rick Dees) he decided it was time to grow up and go to college.
He enrolled at Boise State University in 2006 and was accepted into the Honors College, which met in a building named after one of his favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway. His intention was to obtain a degree in International Business and travel the world. Instead, he learned to read, write, and speak Chinese, Japanese and Spanish and began to take on deep cultural world studies and an understanding of the significance of cultural sensitivity and the perspectives of all communities that exist in the United States.
After spending some time interning at the Capitol Building in the Idaho State Department of Commerce, working on Economic Development and Business Attraction, and working closely with the International Division -- even having a position created for him on the Idaho Export Council during Idaho’s major drive to increase the state’s Gross Domestic Product to $60 billion -- he decided it was time to head to Seattle, where he studied Political Science at North Seattle College.
One unique aspect to Brandon’s career are the breaks he took between to become highly educated and to also work in jobs that called to him from his rural blue-collar roots. He spent years as a truck driver between Idaho and Oregon, he was a commercial fisherman for several seasons in Alaska out of Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Bristol Bay; and he has never forgotten his first job as a dishwasher for a family-owned Mexican food restaurant at the age of 13. He even worked as a janitor.
Brandon’s understandings of real-world issues led his line of questioning on topics that affect real people in very real ways and give him a deep feeling of responsibility to provide timely and truthful information that is always fair and balanced. He also sees the importance of highlighting the positive events that happen every day and takes great pleasure in meeting and hearing from those in the community that participate and make positive things happen.
Look for Brandon at events around town or you might also see him taking in some improv or he may be in some local Jazz or Blues club soaking up the sounds of Chicago. Find him on social media, submit your stories, or follow along.
Randy Newman once said in a song about L.A. to, “Leave Chicago to the Eskimos,” but after arriving in Chicago, Brandon says, “In Chicago, it’s not too cold.”