Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history” (and the year any movie came out, ever), Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.
Growing up in Libertytown, Maryland, Jason watched Arch Campbell’s movie reviews on NBC-4 and made home movies with his twin brother Josh. Under the “Friday Night Lights” of Linganore High School, a sideline interview by The Frederick News-Post lead to an invitation to intern at his hometown newspaper.
He quickly switched from sports journalism to the arts after interning at USA Today’s “Life” section and training under The Baltimore Sun’s Michael Sragow, first regular critic for Rolling Stone. Jason earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland, where he became obsessed with film theory under Professor Joseph Miller, followed by an M.F.A. in Film from American University, where he studied writing and directing under Claudia Myers and Gilles Wheeler.
Along the way, he took obsessive notes on hundreds of movie classics, founding the film appreciation website The Film Spectrum, which The Washington Post hailed for its “spirited reviews with the ethos of a true film aficionado.” For this, he was invited to teach introductory film theory courses at American University and review movies on television on “The Arch Campbell Show,” “Let’s Talk Live” and “Good Morning Washington.”
At WTOP, Jason has won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for his feature behind the music of “La La Land,” a Society of Professional Journalists award for his “Gravity” review and an Associated Press award for his feature “Keeping the Drive-In Alive.” His list of celebrity interviews is endless, from red carpets with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman, to one-on-one chats with Aretha Franklin, Berry Gordy, Carol Burnett, Glenn Close, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Robert Duvall and Jon Stewart, not to mention backstage with Leonardo DiCaprio at the 2016 Oscars and Emma Stone at the 2017 Oscars.
In his spare time, Jason dabbles in filmmaking, having written six feature-length screenplays, including his debut “Cinemagic,” which made the Top 10% of the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowships. He has also directed several shorts in film festivals from New York to Chicago to New Mexico, including “Liberty Road,” which won a prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award.
He now resides in Frederick, Maryland, with his wife Ashley Marie, singer of the bands Vinyl Rhino and Slingshot.