FC alumnus makes her way in radio

Sarah Jordan beams into her microphone during her radio show. Photo by Katie Bowling.

By Savannah Wormley

Sarah Jordan knows what she is doing. A cool, collected confidence emanates from her every pore, while a booming, professionally-trained voice commands the listeners’ attention. A personality, warm and friendly, is inviting to any listener. Sarah Jordan is DJX. So when an excited listener bursts through the station doors, Jordan anticipates why this person may be visiting the station; in this case, it is Rick Springfield tickets.

Jordan has just walked onto the elevator and is about to begin the ascent to her floor, making a bee line to the studio so she can plan the next few nights’ shows when a woman rushes in looking flustered. Jordan is quick to hold the elevator door open with a smile across her face. Jordan asks the woman if she is visiting the station because she has won something.

“Rick Springfield tickets!” Jubilee sparks the woman’s features.

“Congratulations! I’ll take you up to the studio, we’ll get you signed in and get the tickets right to you!”

Jordan has been working for Main Line Broadcasting, a cluster of radio stations comprised of 99.7 DJX, 102.3 The Max, Magic 101.3, 105.1 FM Talk, and B 96.5, since right after her freshman year of college. She received an internship with 102.3 The Max in June 2007 which presented her with loads of opportunity.

“That’s how I got my foot in the door of the company was that internship after my freshman year. It was a very early internship in my college career, but that is 100 percent what has helped me get into everything else.”

From a freshman in college to the host of her own show, Jordan has had quite a substantial timeline of success. She now hosts “The Night Life with Sarah Jordan” from seven p.m.-midnight every Monday through Friday. Listeners can call in and request songs, give their opinions on various topics planned out by Jordan, and vote for the “Top 5 at 9,” a segment outlining the five most popular songs in the Louisville area that night. Radio has Jordan hook, line, and sinker; she loves every minute of it.

Radio presents the task of having to keep listeners engaged. Jordan has to keep fueling the fire; has to keep getting listeners to call in. She sits in her studio, which is about the size of closet and is cluttered with DJX paraphernalia, letters from fans and stars alike, and various decorations from events of years past. Jordan guides the show, just waiting for listeners to call in and really make her show come alive.

“When I’m here at night, I’m in this little room all by myself. I want people to call in. I want them to interact with whatever my topic is. I want them to request songs. And that is my job, to make sure that I’m keeping them interactive. If people hear other people on the radio, they’re going to want to be on the radio, too.  I’m getting people to repeatedly night after night call in, which is one of the biggest challenges I deal with every night.”

Jordan’s show ideas are discovered through daily rituals of gathering celebrity gossip, sifting through the latest pop culture news, and even through events in her own life.

“I’ll be out with my friends on a Saturday night and someone will say something and I’ll start typing it into my phone like, ‘Ooh, show topic for Monday!’ I’m always taking things from my friends, Twitter, and Facebook. I want to be topical. DJX’s target demographic is women ages 18 to 34. I’m in the target demographic, so a lot of times I just have to remind myself ‘if you’re interested in it, so are they.’ It’s my job to be up-to-date.”

Jordan’s job is not merely being an on-air personality; while that is certainly a vast part of what she does, other components present more challenge and are cause to more stress. Web design, production, commercials, music scheduling, and promotions: all key to keeping radio alive, but the most challenging of all is holding on to one’s identity.

“The 100 percent hardest part about my job is that it is 24/7. It is every single day. Even when I’m not standing here at work, I am Sarah Jordan. I represent myself and I represent the station and I represent the company everywhere I go within the Louisville metro area. Whether I’m at a school giving a speech, whether I am out with my husband and my friends on Saturday night, or whether I am out to dinner, wherever I am, I’m always Sarah Jordan, I’m always DJX, and I’m always responsible for my actions regardless if it’s a Facebook status, my latest Tweet, a picture, every single thing reflects me and my station. And so it’s 24/7, which is just something I’ve grown accustomed to.”

Jordan strives to be someone her listeners know and relate a feeling of familiarity to. It would be to fail at one of her job’s most important challenges is listeners could not relate, did not want to participate in the show.

“One of the most difficult parts of radio is, yes, being able to think on your feet but regardless if you’re sick, if you’re sad, if you’re angry, if you’re crying, if you’re exhausted, if you’re tired, whatever it is, you still have to sound a certain way on the radio. You are still expected to be a certain person on the radio. There’ve been times where there are tears on my face and you can’t hear it. I have to make sure that I sound like I’m smiling and being friendly. You have to have a certain level of professionalism that you have to be able to maintain. When you close the studio door, you’re you in a sense, but also not you.”

Radio listeners want to be on the same level as the on-air personality they’re listening to. They want to hear about topics they can relate to. They want an emotional connection to the person talking to them.

“Often times, I always imagine I’m talking to one person. I want people to think I’m sitting next to them in their car, sitting next to them at their kitchen table while they’re doing their homework; I want to seem like your best friend. And I need to have that attitude of your best friend and not someone that’s trying to talk above you or talk down to you or talk to you in a way that you don’t understand. It is my job to make sure that I am delivering that every day.”

Sophomore Jackson Bishop said Jordan has achieved all of these goals. He listens to her show religiously, almost every night, as he has for nearly as long as Jordan has been hosting.

“Whenever I listen to Sarah Jordan, I feel like I am listening to a very close friend and that is one of the reasons I love listening to her!”

Jordan’s relationship-like-your-best-friend tactics have cast an enchanting spell on listeners all across the Louisville metro area.

The media industry has really been hit hard by the country’s recent economical hardships and Jordan claims, “Everybody in radio is constantly trying to plan new and fun, interactive things you can do to get listeners, engage people, and make people interact with you; it’s a task all of us have to do every single day.”

Jordan had been fascinated by the glittering, glamorous world of the media from the early years of her childhood.

“I, as a child, would stand in front of the mirror and practice academy awards speeches. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an actress and I had wanted to be famous; since I was little I had been repeating that,” she reminisces.

In her high school years at FC, Jordan’s life prepared her for the hectic frenzy that each day working in radio brings. She was an active member in the theater department, played in the orchestra, and managed to throw a part-time job into the mix as well. Jordan never had plans to pursue a degree in theater, but she had decided to go to school to pursue a career in television, which was originally what she thought she would be doing today. The lure of radio did not present itself until she entered college.

“Radio definitely grabbed me because I got to be myself and I got to wear jeans to work and listen to music and I didn’t have to be stiff behind a desk all day. Radio is definitely a better avenue for me. Trust me, my heart still goes out to theater, but as far as career goes, I wanted Radio/TV.”

Radio allows for a more creative outlet, a more free-flowing atmosphere. The radio station is a place where Jordan can let creativity flow and have the power to create her own show.

“In theater, you play a role. And even if you’re a TV anchor, I feel like you still kind of have to play the role of TV anchor. You have to look the part, you have to do this, have to do that. But in radio, I got to play the role of me. I got to be myself every day and I got to change my job every single day. I am in charge of my show at night. It’s what I want to do that night.”

If a major news event such as a natural disaster or traffic crisis is happening, Jordan covers those events, “but at the end of the day, it’s my creativity and what I can bring to the table with it.”

Jordan has been able to find something she is passionate about, something that is merely a dream to most, take it, and mold it into a reality. Passion is the guiding emotion in Jordan’s life. She has to always have a goal, something to be working toward.

“I am a person who needs goals. I have a forward momentum. Not being successful is one of my biggest fears, so I’m always looking for ways to keep moving up in the industry because that just kind of makes you feel more successful as a professional. The more you can learn in an industry, the more respect you can gain, the better your reputation is, the more people who know your name. That is something I’ve always strived for.”

Passion seeps into every word Jordan says as she begins talking about the importance of dreams. She speaks with a tone indicating strong enthusiasm towards rekindling the flame of dreams inside the minds of people.

“That is one of the biggest things I try to teach people is that you have to have a dream, you have to have something you’re reaching towards; you have to have a passion about something. You’ve got to figure out what your passion is. Everyone has one. My schedule changes every single day, but at the end of the day, I’m always excited about what I do for a living. And I like that I can do something new every day.”

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