KCTS 9’s Jay Martin Jr. is going national

KCTS 9 Host Jay Martin Jr. recently taped a few pledge spots with Nature. Congratulations, Jay!

KCTS 9 audiences already know Jay Martin Jr. Whether he’s hosting KCTS 9 Presents or filling in on Crosscut Now, his mega-watt smile and upbeat on-air presence have become a familiar part of our KCTS 9 broadcast. Now, everyone else is going to get to know, and love, Jay as much as we do. 

This Spring, Jay Martin Jr. will be the pledge host for two upcoming Nature specials. He just wrapped filming with PBS National in New York and we can’t wait to see his work for PBS at large. Congratulations, Jay! 

Before he’s broadcast coast to coast, Jay sat down with us to share the news with our KCTS 9 audience. Here’s what he had to say about hosting, following his dreams and more. 

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

What inspired you to get involved with KCTS 9? Or what excites you about working with KCTS 9/Crosscut?

So, I’m going to tell you a story. I remember being a little boy, and watching shows like Wishbone, The Big Comfy Couch and, of course, we all know Sesame Street. I loved Reading Rainbow. The other big show was Nature.

You think about the things that you will be able to do one day. So fast forward, today I am so thankful for the opportunity to work for a space that has facilitated things that I have always grown up on — education and it brings hope. So to be a part of something like this today is like full circle for me. I am so thankful. It excites me to be a part of a community that we all love. To put forth not just any content, but the best content. We tell stories. 

We have been watching you on KCTS 9, when and where can we expect to see you as a national PBS pledge host? 

Now you’ll be able to watch me starting in April and June. I just did two big pledges for the show Nature. [“The Hummingbird Effect” is one of the episodes and the other episode is “Soul of the Ocean.”] 

I’m so excited! It was a childhood show that really brought me peace and brought me a lot of joy. I loved learning … So, now to be able to talk about it as an adult, as a television host starting in April. I am just overwhelmed and humbled. 

How did national PBS reach out? Based on work with KCTS 9?

Yes! Our amazing CEO and President Rob Dunlop — we had a great conversation one day. We were at lunch and he said, “You know what? I can see you doing national work.” And it kind of threw me for a loop because —  in my mind —  I just started with KCTS 9 back in August of 2021. So, I’m thinking in my mind, I have years before I do anything big and national. He said, “You know what I’m going to send your work over. You know, something may come from it, maybe nothing will come from it?”

It was no more than three months later that the Vice President of PBS Distribution out of New York reached out to me and said, “We’ve been watching your work at KCTS 9 and you're doing a phenomenal job and we would love to offer you the opportunity to go national.” And, I just dropped my phone. [Laughs] It was overwhelming. 

Because you think of all the years of waiting. Just to give a little context, I waited 19 years to become a television host. I’ve done a lot of different work. I’ve done commercials. I have a podcast show. I’ve done different things and I’m so thankful for every opportunity. But my dream — I remember being a little boy and my grandma [saying], “You’re gonna do television one day, honey. You’re gonna be a host of something.” 

Now, here I am with KCTS 9. A year after doing great work with KCTS 9 and Crosscut, here we are — doing national work with PBS at large. Again, I am humbled and so grateful for every opportunity.

What was it like filming in New York?

There were moments honestly where I just thought, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t give up?” Without getting too emotional, when you go through things in life and you get so many “no’s” and then you finally get a “yes.” … I realized that every “no” was needed to get to this great “yes.” 

Any favorite moments from filming here with KCTS 9 in Seattle? 

Monisa [Brown] is everything. I’m so thankful to have her as a co-host [of KCTS 9 Presents]. And I’m thankful to [the KCTS 9 staff]. They allow me to be myself. And, for KCTS 9 to be my first experience being a host, they have been the best team to ever work with. 

One of my favorite moments was being able to write and help kind of steer the story with [promotional spots for] Making Black America. That was so awesome for Monisa and me to be able to read our words, our thoughts.

Caroline Gerdes
About the Author

Caroline Gerdes

Caroline Gerdes is the Marketing Manager at Cascade Public Media. Before working for Cascade Public Media, Caroline was a freelance writer and she worked for National Geographic as a grantee and digital producer. She is also the author of the book, An Oral History of the New Orleans Ninth Ward.