By Karen Halfpop, Digital/Production Direcctor
For the past 26 years, the cheery voice of Janet Ellis has started the day for thousands of locals and visitors to Branson. Whether she brightened up your commute or prompted you to slap the clock radio and go back to sleep, Janet Ellis was always there to start the day with the “hup-de-do” known as a morning show on KRZK/KOMC radio.
On Friday, July 31, Ellis will hang up her headphones and head in to retirement.
According to station manager and long-time on-air partner, Steve Willoughby, Ellis had an immediate impact on the stations and the Branson area. “She knew proper grammar, that really helped a whole bunch. And she could remember names, that was really, really amazing,” Willoughby laughed. “She’s always had a consistent desire to do better for people.”
Ellis and Willougby hosted “Steve & Janet in the Morning” for 22 years on KRZK. In 2016, Willoughby stepped away to do other things, and Janet continued the morning show with “Janet & Friends from Ellis Island.”
Over the last four years, Ellis has battled - and defeated - breast cancer, helping and inspiring many by sharing her personal story. She’s also filled the role of caretaker for her mother, Joyce, affectionately known as “J.E.” In retirement, Willoughby said, Ellis will take some much needed time to continue working on her health and caring for her mother.
“For 26 years I’ve been a human alarm clock here in the Ozarks,” Ellis smiled.
“God has led me through all of these incredible experiences through all of these years.”
Ellis has been a cheerleader for the area, and has championed many causes. She has received the Care for Kids Award from the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce; and developed the Teacher of the Month program, recognizing many well-deserving educators in the region. Ellis has also won several awards from the Missouri Broadcasters Association, including morning show of the year twice, and recognition for many commercials, public service announcements and special programs.
“Janet made people better, whether it was nervous kids doing their first on-air stint, or nervous businesspeople rushing through recording a commercial,” Willoughby said. “Janet was a true professional.”
According to Willoughby, plans are underway for a new morning show after Ellis signs-off on July 31, however details are not yet available. He did share that there may be special projects in the future that could bring Ellis back to the booth.
“So, I’m not really going to say goodbye,” Ellis said. “I’ll just say ‘see ya’.”
“The world would be better if we had more people like Janet Ellis,” Willoughby said. “We might always be looking for our cell phones, but it would be better.”