Own Your Strong loves to go “behind the scenes” to get the scoop from today’s leading ladies, who own their strong by doing what they love. If you live in the Cincinnati area, and like to jam out to the radio during your morning commute, odds are you’ve heard Jenn Jordan’s voice.
As co-host of the Jeff & Jenn Morning Show on Q102 (101.9 FM), Jenn has been waking up Cincinnati since 2002, and is an excellent example of a woman crushing it in a typically male-dominated industry. For Jenn, entertaining, giving back to the community, and her son Jakob are just a few of the passions that drive the woman behind the voice.
What does a typical day in your shoes look like?
I get [to the studio] usually around 5:30 a.m. and prep for the show. I go over everything that’s happened in E News, and News that Didn’t Make the News — I search for all of those stories that we’re going to do. I write the teasers for Jeff, get our contests ready, and read through everything so I’m up with all that’s happening and able to sound like I somewhat know what I’m talking about. We turn the mics on at 6:00 a.m., do the show from 6 to 10:00 a.m., have a bit of a break in between to grab another cup of coffee, and then start prepping for the next day’s show!
Have you always known you wanted to be in radio?
I always knew I wanted to do something in entertainment. I’ve always been really comfortable in front of people.
So of course radio…where no one sees you…is perfect!
Perfect! It was perfect until the internet came along, and screwed all of that up! When I first started in radio there wasn’t even email, for crying out loud. If somebody had a complaint to make or something nasty to say to you, they would either have to call you on the phone or write you a letter. So once email came along, that really changed things.
But did I always know? Yeah, when I was really little I wanted to be a star on Broadway, but I can’t sing. I took tap dance for 11 years, but never was good enough to do anything to make a career out of that. In my teenage years I decided I wanted to be on TV — I wanted to replace Mary Hart on Entertainment Tonight. So I went to college to get a degree in communications, with Radio/TV/Film as my emphasis. We had a TV station and a radio station on campus, and in order to do television, you had to do the radio first. So I did that, I got into television, and HATED it! It was too serious, you couldn’t inject your personality into it, and it felt very flat to me.
So I went back to the radio, and really fell in love with it, especially when I got an internship at a commercial radio station with a program director who really wanted to groom me and teach me. After that, it was just a series of being at the right place at the right time, meeting the right people, getting my foot in doors, and making connections.
Tell us how you came to be cohost of the Jeff and Jenn Show.
After college, I landed my dream job in Tampa, FL at a radio station call The Power Pig. I was 22, got hired, and worked there for nine years. And that’s where I met Jeff! I’d been at the station about two years when Jeff showed up; we became buddies and worked together for seven years there.
Then the radio station across the hall’s morning show didn’t renew their contract. By this time Jeff and I were both married, in our early 30s, and The Power Pig had changed to 93.3 FLZ, but it was still a party station. We were at clubs four to five nights a week. We’d both gotten to the point of “I can’t keep doing this, I’m tired!” and radio was going through some changes. The only way to move up was either change to mornings or take on a managerial position. Neither of us wanted any part of management, so we decided to ask for the morning show job.
We were there for around a year and a half before they fired us, which happens a LOT in this business. The fact that I’ve only been fired once in all my years is kind of a miracle. Not many people are lucky enough to have the career that Jeff and I have had. After we got fired, Q102 found us. They heard we were “on the beach” as they like to call it (a.k.a. unemployed), and they brought us up here! We’ve been [in Cincinnati] now for 13 years.
What have been some of your favorite moments as a radio show host?
I’ve just been really lucky in the types of places I’ve been able to work. I’ve had two long experiences with incredible bosses and incredible staff, where a lot of other places are very competitive, with crazy people all over the place. I’ve been really really lucky to be surrounded by the GOOD kind of crazy. And living my twenties at The Power Pig. I couldn’t imagine a better place to be young, single, and work for brilliantly creative fun people that were supportive and amazing in ways that I don’t think I understood or appreciated at the time — looking back now I can go, “Wow. That was amazing.” And then to be able to come here, and find that same kind of environment at a different radio station, targeting a different type of audience, but still with creative smart people who GET radio.
I also love having so many opportunities here to give back to the community. I was working here when my son Jakob was diagnosed with autism. The station has supported me with every organization I’ve wanted to get involved in, and thrown their support behind it as well. Q102 is really big about giving back to the community that supports us, and takes our causes to heart.
Which charitable organizations are those? Has your public profile tied into your efforts around your cause?
There have been a lot of organizations that I’ve supported, and I love each and every one of them for very different reasons. I love Autism Speaks because they’re loud and they raise awareness. People know a lot about autism because of the work that Autism Speaks has done, so I love them for that. I love Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and The Kelly O’Leary Center because they help so many families, and we’re very lucky to have to have the Autism Treatment Network here. There are only a handful of hospitals across the country who are doing some of the research on autism. We have the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati that does a ton of work. There’s also a ReelAbilities Film Festival that happens every couple of years. It’s this HUGE film festival that features all films about people with disabilities, so they’re raising awareness and doing all sorts of incredible things.
Currently I’m on the board for the Ken Anderson Foundation. Kenny Anderson is a former Bengals quarterback, and he has a nephew who is a young adult with autism. Kenny has gotten together this group to build a residential work/live/play facility for adults living with autism. We’re in the process of finding the property and raising the money to get this thing open so there will be housing. That’s a huge issue right now. With so many people coming of age in the autism community, there’s just nowhere for them to go. So he’s looking to make that happen right here in Cincinnati, and it’s amazing to be a part of something that I know is going to be huge.
[Jenn has raised about $2 million for Autism Speaks in eight years.]
What has it been like to be a woman in your industry?
It is a male-dominated industry, but Q102 is an exception to the rule. We have a lot of women on staff: two on the morning show, a women on mid-days, a woman in the afternoon, and two women part-timers. For all the years that I was at FLZ in Tampa, I was the ONLY full time female. It was a good-ol-boy network, but luckily for me, I love working with men.
It was kind of cool to be the only female. I had a lot of big brothers keeping an eye on me all the time. But it was definitely strange, because it was a radio station without a lot of female energy…programming a station targeted at females. All dudes, deciding what women wanted, and how women thought! That’s the beauty of Q102 — our operations manager is one of the most brilliant radio minds ever. She GETS women. Our target audience is 25 to 54 year-old women, and she nails it every time! We are a woman’s best friend, serving women the best we can.
Q102’s female audience in the 25-54 demo usually more than doubles other area stations. [Source]
What advice would you give someone wanting to go into radio?
Go to school, get into a broadcasting program, and take a WIDE variety of classes. You need to know more than just broadcasting. You need to take drama, speech, sociology, and psychology. Take English classes, because you’ve got to be able to write, and speak creatively. Stay on top of it, know a little bit about a whole lot of things. Get your foot into a station because practical experience is going to get your further than anything.
You’re still going to have to do the grunt work in the beginning; setting up remotes, spinning prize wheels, handing out bumper stickers. But once you’re in that radio station, BE THERE and learn. Keep your eyes and ears wide open to soak it in, because that’s the only way you’re going to get how it all works.
How do you think Strong is your Sexy?
What makes me feel sexy, is when I feel like I REALLY know what I’m talking about. Knowledge is sexy! It’s the confidence that comes with knowing my stuff. And I think I’m a pretty empowered mom when it comes to my son. The autism party has been a long and interesting journey, but over the years I’ve dove in head first and learned so much. I’ve taken roads that I was advised to avoid, but my gut told me to go that way and it paid off. Self empowerment from having the confidence, knowing that no one knows him like I know him, and everybody else can just zip it! In the end, it all comes back to confidence.
With her infectious laugh, quirky sense of humor, and no-nonsense approach to giving advice, Jenn has won over the hearts of Cincinnati, and of course, everyone here at Own Your Strong.