Jean Y. Inaba

1958 -

Jean Inaba, a violinist, has worked at National Public Radio for sixteen years, beginning in 1986. At that time she held the position of Associate Music Producer for the newly created classical music show Performance Today. The following year, she began working as a part-time announcer at WETA, 90.9 FM, a local NPR station. When a major reorganization at NPR eliminated her division in 2002, she made a career change but continued as a part-time announcer for WETA, a position she held until October 2013. At that time she became the Classical Host/Producer at Colorado Public Radio.

Inaba described her work at Performance Today as demanding and stressful, a position requiring total commitment. She says it played an important part in her professional growth while enhancing her knowledge and appreciation of classical music.

Jean was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, one of three daughters of Samuel and Ethel Inaba. She spent her childhood in Hawaii and in College Place, Washington. Music was an important activity in the Inaba home, and it became her passion when she started violin lessons at age six. She would later learn to play the oboe, recorder, guitar, and piano.

From 1976 to 1980, Jean attended Walla Walla College, now University, where she graduated cum laude with a BA in communications media and a minor in music. She was listed in the 1980 Who's Who in Colleges and Universities.

While at WWC, Jean played violin in the school orchestra and the Walla Walla Symphony. She also played oboe in the college wind ensemble and was a member of the school's recorder ensemble. She worked as an announcer and programmer for KGTS, the college FM radio station, and competed on a finalist College Bowl team.

Following graduation, Inaba worked at public radio stations KWIT in Sioux City, Iowa; WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina; WCAL in Northfield, Minnesota; and KSJN in St. Paul, Minnesota, before going to Washington, D.C., to work at Performance Today. When she left that program, she opted for a career in horticulture.

She subsequently worked during the week in the interiorscape industry along with her weekend job in radio and seasonal work in the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. In her spare time, Inaba enjoys reading nonfiction and chamber music. She also enjoys gardening and is an all-weather runner and health and fitness buff.

Inaba has been active as a freelance musician, playing in the Sioux City Symphony in Iowa; Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in Maryland; Millbrook Orchestra in Shepherdstown, West Virginia; and in the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in Hagerstown, Maryland. She played in the MSO for 24 years, from 1989 to 2013. She recently observed,

I have a lively interest in horticulture, but it can never match my love of music. Music is my one true passion. I am always happiest when I am in the middle of something involving it - whether it's performing in my orchestra, finding creative ways to announce classical music on the radio, or just sitting down with friends to jam at a chamber music session.


Sources: Information provided by Jean Inaba in 2002, 2012 and 2013; WETA website biography; Linkedin website; personal knowledge.