Jennifer Brandel has been experimenting with media and journalism since the early aughts. In 2011 she founded and produced the award-winning WBEZ’s Curious City series and is taking the model she pioneered there to media organizations via Hearken. The bulk of her reporting experience has been for public media, having reported pieces for WBEZ, NPR, APM, PRI, and playing with fiction on the CBC’s WireTap and Radiotopia’s Love + Radio. Prior to radio, Jennifer started a women’s workout happening called Dance Dance Party Party, managed the 2010 Third Coast International Audio Festival Conference, and worked a variety of odd jobs like psychometric test developer in Montreal, grape picker in Tasmania, ghostwriter for an exotic dancer and the late John Hughes. Her multimedia work has been published in The New York Times and Vice. She is on the advisory board of the Third Coast International Audio Festival

Brandel lives out of a suitcase, but when a dresser is available she prefers it to be in Chicago. Her life collaborator is Aaron Wickenden.  


Human beings often look for proof that a person has accomplished things, or is respected by other respectable people in order to decide to what extent this person is worthwhile, worth connecting to, worth hiring, etc. All of the following social proofs were written by the people whose names are associated. What now?   

One of the most with-it ladies I know, someone who I feel like, you know, “gets it.”
— Liz Mason, Manager, Quimby's Bookstore
Jenny Brandel gave me the Heimlich maneuver in junior high because I was choking on a piece of popcorn while we waited for the bus to arrive to go to a basketball game. The PE / health teacher stood there looking at me choking with his eyes bugging out of his head... Jenny sprung into action.
— Katie Berwanger Egan, High School peer
Jennifer Brandel’s hands are, like, always sweaty. But it’s because she cares that much.
— Alex Keefe, Reporter, Vermont Public Radio
When I decided to open a vegan diner, Jennifer was the first person I called. Not to offer her a job, or to ask her for business advice — it was more of a butt-dial. But that butt-dial blossomed into a business partnership that’s garlanded the last 35 years with forearm tattoos, soyrizo laughter, soyrizo tears, and the best iPod shuffle in the entire vegan diner industry. Factory Farming is a morally indefensible practice — and Jennifer P. Brandel (her middle initial is “P.,” you’ll notice) (it stands for “Pammystein”) is a morally defensible woman. I would definitely recommend entering into a business partnership with her quite soon.
— Andrew Leland, Producer / Host KCRW's The Organist, Editor of The Believer
Punctual, well-mannered, ordered granola for breakfast.
— Colm Coyne, Irishman
Jennifer is #1 on my list of approx 7 billion people that I’ve never really met. I recommend the interestingness of wondering what kind of a person Jennifer is in person.
— Anders Waage Nilsen, pen pal of Jennifer's, Manager Netlife Research, Bergen
Jenn Brandel is my faaaaaaaaavorite / panda poppyseed horseshoe crab.
— Sam Greenspan, Producer, 99% Invisible
Jennifer Brandel and I met in a dark room full of dancing women where no one was allowed to talk. Before long, she put orange glasses on me and told me that a traumatic event that occurred when I was 18 years old was holding me back. Then she got me to talk about poop on the radio. All of this is true.
— Kelley Clink, author "A Different Kind of Same"
Far more bold than klutzy.
— Aaron Wickenden, Emmy winning and Oscar nominated film editor (also, husband)
Jenn is so kind and altruistic, she will rescue ‘lost’ dogs on the street — even when their owners are walking right behind her.
— Julia Kumari-Drapkin, Creator iSeeChange
Jennifer Brandel is the type of conscientious, wonderful lady, who you swear must be a vegan, but then will chow down on KC’s best BBQ. Also serves excellent cleavage at the Oscars and gives public media journalists the will the live. She is a shining star in a mud pit of cannibalistic pigs.
— Lindsey Foat, Reporter, KCPT
True story.

True story.

I will always be in awe of Jennifer’s masterful combination of creativity, spontaneity, and adventure. I’ll never understand how on the night before she was to lead a flash mob at the Arctic Circle, she managed to hand sew AND bedazzle 250 cherry red unitards for everyone. I don’t think there’s a single penguin that will ever forget that epic dance routine to “Let it Go” under the northern lights, or seeing her in a full split at the top of the final pyramid. I salute you.
— Lisa Fairman, Massage Therapist + Swordswoman
Jenn has had a profound effect on my life. I remember meeting her like it was yesterday—I’d just been sent up for a three year stint in State Prison on two counts of extortion and didn’t know anyone there at all (most of my crew was down at 26th and Cal). Jenn took me under her wing and showed me how things worked at the big house—from dealing with the various gangs that ran the prison to how to make my own shiv, she was a valuable mentor and an overall good friend. We often talked about what we’d do when we got out since we were both eligible for parole about the same time, and it was Jenn who suggested that we start “Dogs and Suds” on the near West side.

It was a totally brilliant idea as no one had ever considered starting a business in that neighborhood to both do your laundry AND get some of the best encased meats available in Our Fair City. We made quite a bundle before the Dept. of Health shut us down on a bogus giardiniera charge (I still think it was retribution for not paying tribute to the mustard and relish gang down on the Southwest side, but I digress).

Years later, after a successful run as a grifter in Arizona, Jenn got married to Aaron and went all straight and narrow on me. I told her that the idea to fabricate a background in Art History was brilliant because no one ever checks those things, but I think that she really outdid herself with the funky glasses. She’s taken the lessons she learned as a first-class networker in prison to a new level in the radio world (which is a tough gang to work with, let me tell you). When I heard she was moving to San Francisco for a spell, I was excited because I think that this will give her an opportunity to break into the lucrative flag-sewing industry that’s cropping up among Twitterers on the West Coast. I wish her the best of luck and hope that her parole office doesn’t catch wind of the move before she gets back to Chicago.
— Brian FItzpatrick, Co-founder ORD Camp + CTO Tock
Jennifer Brandel gives me the sensation of being a horned toad lying on a hot highway.
— Kara Elliott-Ortega, Urban Designer, MIT
I’d like to endorse Jennifer for the skill of Brandel management. In this complex era, she has managed to maintain Brandel quality while leveraging against multiple platforms, with special skill at audio and social media. All the elements of the Brandel are consistent - look, price, packaging. The Brandel unique selling proposition is clear and distinctive. As a result, the Brandel has a very high recognition level among consumers, plus strong emotional connection for them and outstanding comparative value against similar Brandels.
— David Kleeman, SVP, Dubit Limited
When I grow up I wanna be just like you.
— Sonari Glinton, NPR Reporter
She’s the Nikola Tesla of journalism.
— Kristen Muller, Chief Content Officer, KPCC