As one of the top 10 media markets in the nation, Boston has had its share of broadcast legends. From Eddie Andelman, David Brudnoy and Ron Della Chiesa to Larry Glick, Eric Jackson and Matty Siegel, the Boston airwaves have long been tended by some of the best in the business.
For the past 36 years, one voice has stood out. Though Jordan Rich’s show on WBZ 1030 AM (which itself is a career chai-light of 18 years) is mostly heard by night owls and third shifters around here, the 50,000-watt signal and online presence allow fans from Minnesota and far beyond to enjoy his eclectic guests and provocative interviews wherever they are and whenever they want.
“Radio was a love since I was a kid listening to far away stations on my little portable late at night,” Rich recalls, noting that, while he studied communications at Curry College in Milton, it was in the radio club at Randolph High School that he “got the bug.”
Though he claims to have known by his senior year in high school that “that broadcasting was something I would try for,” Rich also recalls how his voice ”dropped” around the time of his bar mitzvah, perhaps giving him a bit more time to perfect his craft than some later bloomers. Despite this possible advantage, Rich admits that he still had an obstacle to deal with.
“I still had the strong Boston accent,” he explains, but adds that many people still complimented him (or at least remarked) on his “rather deep voice.”
Starting on the legendary WRKO at the age of 18 (there is that number again!), Rich moved from weather to mornings, working with such mentors as Charlie Van Dyke and Norm Nathan. When asked about his mentors, Rich also names such notable newsmen as Jess Cain, Jerry Williams, Gene Burns, Howard Nelson, and Paul Benzaquin, as well as Jean Shepard and sports announcers like Ken Coleman, Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell. When asked who helped him go from Curry’s 10-watt WMLN to the nearly infinite power and reach of WRKO, Rich recalls with fondness and appreciation Curry Professor Roger Allan, who was also serving as news director at WRKO at the time.
“He offered me the chance of a lifetime,” Rich recalls. “It was an experiment, but Roger believed in me!”
It was also at WRKO that Rich tried his talented hand (and tonsils) hand at a musical format with the popular “Music Sunday” show. After some time hosting award-winning talk shows at WLLH and WSSH, Jordan began working part-time at WBZ before taking over for the legendary Nathan.
“I just wanted to learn my craft and honor those great broadcasters whom I looked up to,” Rich says when asked about what he hoped to bring to the Boston airwaves. “Entertaining and informing with a sense of community responsibility was what Roger and others taught me.”
When not on air, Rich and production partner Ken Carberry run Chart Productions, an audio production and marketing firm that offers everything from advertising to voice-over work. Rich and Carberry also teach and mentor other broadcasters, in order to continue Boston’s proud on-air traditions.
“It’s my ‘nine to five’ gig,” Rich explains, “and I love it!…I’m proud to say [Chart] has been active and successful since 1980.”
As much as Rich is loved by his legions of fans, clients, colleagues, and students, he also loves his community and does all he can to give back. Every chance he gets, Rich is promoting and emceeing events for such organizations as The American Cancer Society, The American Lung Association, Metro West Jewish Family Services (for whom he hosts the annual Seize the Dream event), The World War II Foundation, The Lenny Zakim Fund, and Boston’s Children’s Hospital, for whom he has helped raise over a quarter million dollars! He also serves as emcee for his congregation at Temple Beth Sholom in Framingham and has also hosted broadcasts from the 92nd Street Y in New York.
“Broadcasting offered me then and still does a chance to make a difference in the lives of people,” he says. “I believe that broadcasters need to provide help where and when they can in the community. We possess…the medium to spread the word, provide information, promotion, education and entertainment. And helping charities and good causes is what I’ve been about since I was a kid.”
While many broadcasters do emceeing and other charity work primarily as a means of public relations for themselves, Rich truly wishes to give back and to support others just as he has been supported for all of his nearly 40 years on air and in the community.
“Giving back offers multiple rewards,” he suggests. “For those in need and for those who give. I’ve met lifelong friends doing charity work. I’m healthy and available and find it such a high to lend my support to worthwhile projects.”
When asked what the next 36 years hold, Rich replies that he hopes to see “more of the same since it is so good,” and adds that, in addition to practicing yoga, enjoying Jazz and reruns of the original “Star Trek,” he has been considering writing a book or play. “I also intend to spend more time with those I love,” he adds, “do more traveling and slow down a bit to smell the K-cups!”