Jonell Pernula was born in Minnetonka Minnesota on 9th May 1960, graduating from
Hopkins Lindbergh in 1978, and Brown Institute for Broadcasting in 1980.
She worked at KFMX / KRSI with Tommy Rivers (who was then known on air as Gil Brandson)
and when Tommy joined Laser 558, he hired Jonell as a 1985 Summer relief deejay.
On returning to the USA, she worked for KTCZ 97.1 Minneapolis– The Cities 97,
staying there for 10 years . After a spell working in a bar and shop security,
she returned to radio at Smooth Jazz. After a management change, she moved to
Metro Traffic control with traffic reports for the twin cities. Unfortunately in November 2002,
she was told she was being demoted “as there were too many women” on the station.
She successfully sued and eventually won her case, in 2005, for gender discrimination,
but she then decided to retire.
Jonell alongside the Communicator
Jonell sadly passed away on 9th December 2021 from organ failure.
Our condolences to her family and many friends.
Laser 558 John Lewis, Charlie Wolf and Jonell
Tommy Rivers writes… What you remember about Jonell, is her ever-present smile.
We had worked Radio together at the same AM/FM combo station in Minneapolis
for four years, KRSI/KJJO. Pretty long by US Radio standards. Different formats over that time –
Middle of the Road, Progressive Country and Oldies Rock. A fun run, and where
we all learned from some of the old pros at the station at the time like Bob Chase,
who ran around the country as part of the famous Todd Storz Radio Group that developed
and brought Top 40 Radio to American listeners in the late ‘50s. Fast forward to Laser.
With Tommy Rivers on board the Communicator 1-8-1985
By the summer of ’85, some were leaving the ship for other jobs, as was expected,
and we needed some gaps filled. Jonell was between Radio gigs, On a trip back home
I said ‘come on out to the North Seas for a few months and enjoy a bit of an adventure.’
She did and was perfect – a team player, willing to do whatever shifts needed to be done.
As she recalled, ‘it was the best Radio summer of her life.’
She loved the unique settling, the people she met along the way and even
the intrigue of Euro-Siege. She then headed back to the Minneapolis and spent
many more years on the air. Looking back, you remember the fun, youthful days of yore.
So sad she left us so early.
A great broadcaster and friend. RIP. . .
Erin Kelly writes: So very sorry to learn our shipmate has departed for the ultimate voyage.
I have never met anyone as completely optimistic and always cheerful as Jonell.
Erin Kelly with Jonell
I am thankful for those rare and special days we all shared. It seems impossible, she is forever young in our hearts. I recently found many old pictures, had just begun digitizing them,
and intended to send a few to Jonell. A scan from a contact sheet is attached...
With Andy and Captain Bob
simply a view of how much everyone loved her. . .and her sparkle.
Such a lovely person.