You recognize the smooth lilt of his voice, but what about the sharp crack of his whip? WBUR news anchor Jack Lepiarz has honed his remarkable side hustle in front of circus, Renaissance fair and public square audiences throughout his 25 years in the one-of-a-kind business. His skillful choreography recently met a new, national fan base on "America's Got Talent."
As with Lepiarz's juggling, knife throwing and whip cracking — yes, he does it all — we've got to be precise. This isn't the entertainer's first time making headlines instead of breaking them; he's a proud Guinness World Record setter and a favorite of his nearly two million fans on TikTok.
And, of course, Lepiarz is also an experienced journalist with a bachelor's degree in broadcasting from Emerson College, who's been reporting and hosting at WBUR since 2010.
Though our listeners' enthusiasm for Lepiarz was shared by the "America's Got Talent" theater audience, its celebrity judges appeared skeptical when he first introduced himself as "Jack the Whipper." (Infamous personality Simon Cowell even startled Lepiarz, and this writer, with the ominous sound of a premature red X buzzer.) That's when Lepiarz, with prompting by host Terry Crews, invited Cowell on stage.
"Once he came up the stairs, I had a thought along the lines of 'You're on my turf now' that made me feel much more comfortable," Lepiarz says. Though his legs felt like "jelly" as nerves about his brand new routine coursed through him, the performer kept his cool and his careful posture as he split with his whip a target held between Cowell's legs.
When judge Sofía Vergara asked about Lepiarz's day job, he declared: "I am a news anchor for Boston's NPR news station." And the connection between his two passions is all part of Lepiarz's plan.
"I've always loved challenging people's preconceived notions of what people in public radio are like," says Lepiarz. "I think a lot of folks have this idea that we're all a little stiff and a little nerdy. Getting the chance to go out there and show folks that, 'Hey, we're real people, too' is an amazing opportunity."
The stunt with Cowell, which had Crews and others in the "America's Got Talent" audience on the edges of their seats, has awed social media users, too. Lepiarz's performance has 14,000 views and counting on Twitter alone.
What's on deck for our resident whip-cracking reporter? You guessed it: your next WBUR broadcast, anchored by Lepiarz every week day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You'll also find him at Maryland Renaissance Festival this August, and at King Richard's Faire this fall.
Vergara also asked if Lepiarz's newsroom family knew he was in the running to perform. With a smile, he answered that we were "very well aware."
We can also confirm that we're "very well proud," too.