By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor
Region – Jordan Rich started becoming a familiar voice on Boston airwaves at age 19. Now residing in Framingham, he candidly chronicled his longtime passion in a memoir titled “On Air: My 50-Year Love Affair with Radio.”
During his childhood in Randolph, he discovered love at the first sounds of late-night talk shows on his transistor radio. As a member of Randolph High’s radio club, he determined his destiny after interviewing school administrators.
“I learned the importance of creating a bond with people and being courteous on and off the air,” he recalled. “Being around a microphone early on convinced me that I’d do this for a career.”
Productive college days and beyond
Rich chose to study at Curry College in Milton specifically because freshmen could work at the student-run station WMLN-FM.
“The idea was to get in there and learn; make mistakes, so you can get better,” he explained. “I worked there my entire four school years.”
Before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1980, Rich landed his first radio job at WRKO-AM in 1978. He reported weather forecasts from Logan Airport.
“It was the break of a lifetime,” he declared. “I went from 10 watts on Curry’s WMLN to 50,000 watts in one day.”
Soon afterward, he was promoted to morning co-host with legendary broadcaster Norm Nathan. Rich is grateful for the on-the-job training from Nathan, who was posthumously inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
“Norm was a mentor who didn’t know he was a mentor,” Rich relayed. “When he was being funny – which was all the time – it was always self-deprecating. He never intended to hurt anybody’s feelings. He taught me to have respect for the audience.”
Following his mentor at WBZ-AM 1030
After Rich worked at WLLH-AM and WSSH-FM, his association with Nathan recurred over a decade later. Nathan was hosting WBZ-AM’s overnight shift when he died in 1996. Several radio personalities filled-in until WBZ announced the debut of “The Jordan Rich Show.”
“There’s always a transition when anybody leaves – or sadly passes on – but you don’t replace that person,” Rich said. “Norm was a great influence for me and many people who loved him.”
Throughout 20 years, Rich interviewed countless guests for listeners in 38 states and Canada. Unlike some broadcasters, he was as respectful as his mentor.
“I wouldn’t be successful in an antagonistic role where I’m shouting people down – it’s not my nature,” he noted. “I’ve always enjoyed listening as well as speaking up.”
While this show ended in 2016, Rich continues hosting several WBZ projects including “New England Weekend,” “Connoisseur’s Corner” and “The Upside with Jordan.”
Podcasts: ‘the great renaissance of audio’
Now, he’s also podcasting his “On Mic with Jordan Rich.”
“The great renaissance of audio is because of digital podcasting,” he proclaimed. “For me, it was a natural outgrowth of doing the ‘BZ show to create my own podcast and continue the one-on-one interviews that I love.”
Rich’s podcast is one of many produced by the Braintree-based Chart Productions, which he co-owns with his fellow Curry College alum Ken Carberry.
Among their longstanding clients is a 35-year working relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rich does voice-over work for the now-online BSO concert series conducted by Keith Lockhart.
“Working directly with Keith and representing an organization that’s known worldwide has been a great honor,” Rich said. “Also, I love classical music.”
Rich’s book includes personal topics. He shared about the loss of his first wife, Wendy, to cancer when they were married for 31 years.
“We had a lot of years with cancer treatments and remissions,” he noted. “I helped heal my audience; they helped heal me.”
He also described overcoming bouts with depression.
“In my late 30s, I was totally exhausted – mentally and physically,” he acknowledged. “I felt horribly down. I didn’t have the right therapy and medication until 2010. Once I learned about sleep, stress reduction and became more spiritual, it all eased out.”
Rich advises, “If you’re well and take care of yourself, then you can help other people.”
He’s currently helping by donating all book proceeds to Boston Children’s Hospital.