Listeners of Hot 103 Jamz (KPRS 103.3 FM) may recognize Joe Cornejo’s voice from The Night Jam. Cornejo has roots right here in Northeast. He grew up on Smith Avenue in the Sheffield community and attended Trail Woods Elementary. He moved with his mother to the Northland, but his father remained in Northeast, and it continues to be his second home.
“I’ve always admired the sense of community we had in Northeast,” Cornejo said. “Other places I’ve lived, it felt like you just lived near people, but you didn’t have a connection with them.”
Cornejo picked up a love for hip hop from his parents. He grew up listening to it, and found a connection to the lyrics and beats within the music.
“Living in Northeast, you felt like you were in the music,” he said. “It helped me relate to people’s struggles and plights.”
This is partly what got him into the radio industry. Cornejo went to Northwest Missouri State University for an accounting degree, but quickly made the change to radio broadcasting. He got an internship with Hot 103 Jamz in 2016.
“I was living in Maryville, but I’d drive to Kansas City to work at the radio station on the weekends,” Cornejo said. “People on campus would tell me ‘I heard you on the radio!’ I stayed in contact with the staff, and they eventually brought me on as a Night Jam personality.”
Although he lives in Riverside now, he often still visits his dad, who lives near Budd Park. He also reminisces, “Despite the circumstances we were living in, my best memories are on Smith Street near Sheffield.”
“I want people to know that Northeast has a lot of great kids,” Cornejo added. “The city doesn’t give them a chance. A lot of kids could do great things if you just give them the opportunity. If you believe in these kids and invest in them, you’ll see a lot of great things come out of Northeast.”