WRADvocate Profile: Jordan Rich

Jordan Rich is a radio personality from WBZ Radio Boston. He is also a host, master of ceremonies, voiceover artist, and inspirational speaker.With all of his combined talents spreading the good word, he is the perfect WRADvocate!

Along with going to a school in Revere, Massachusetts to read to the children (something he has done for the past 8 years), he will also be doing a read-aloud segment on his radio show!

Read on to learn more:

1. Book(s) that changed my life:

So many books have had an influence on me since graduating from the Dick and Jane series in early elementary school. Perhaps it started in the mid 1960’s on an extended and fantastic trip to science fact and fiction with the series of “Tom Swift” adventures, introduced by Edward Stratemeyer in 1910.

Another Swift (Jonathan) transported me to fascinating places at an early age with his magnificent series “Gulliver’s Travels.” I’ve read thousands of books since and there are too many influential ones to mention. But along with countless classics and bestsellers, two recent books have moved me deeply and it’s a pleasure to share them with you. One is the emotionally powerful novel “About a Boy,” by Nick Hornby, the story of a reluctant father who learns the true meaning of a father’s love for a son. It soon became a hit film starring Hugh Grant. But the book had me tearing up on many occasions and is one I recommend to anyone contemplating starting a family.

The second book that I often rave about is entitled, “I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers.” Writer Tim Madigan publishes a treasury of correspondence he shared with the legendary Mr. Rogers of children’s public television fame. Every letter contains a heartfelt lesson from Fred to Tim and ultimately to us. In this wonderful book, you’ll encounter the warmth, wisdom, humor and kindness of someone as beloved as he was for decades. Fred Rogers passed away before the book was published, but his gentle words live on in my heart and thousands of others thanks to this special book.

2. How has what I’ve read influenced me professionally?

I am a professional talk host with a passion for the interview. So, an average week consists of preparing for and then conducting author interviews on air, as many as six per week. The books vary from fictional best sellers to the New York Times top non-fiction offerings in history, biography, sports, the arts, economics, health and more. I am blessed to have the opportunity to meet with and discuss the work of local and national writers, America’s finest authors. Homework is something I never quite looked forward to in
school. My regular homework assignments these days of pouring through a stack of interesting books to prepare for my show has greatly enhanced my personal and professional outlook in so many ways. It is the kind of homework I love doing. If you are one of my high school teachers reading this, please know that you deserve some credit.

3. What advice do I have for teachers, parents regarding how to handle struggling readers?

Simply this. Remind them that our imaginations will always transport us to amazing places and the experience is as exciting if not more so than any CGI film or video game. When it comes to reading, all are invited and the cost is minimal. And with with millions of books in print and on-line, there is something of interest for everyone---without question. Pick subjects that interest children and they’ll find it hard to resist the reading bug. When I present novels or non-fiction books and their authors to my listeners, I do so
with enthusiasm and curiosity, two essential ingredients that inspire listeners to want to know more. And yes, reading aloud with expression is still an excellent method to motivate young people to want to read on their own. It certainly helps to explain the success of radio, the medium I love that has stayed vital for nearly 100 years. The spoken word connects to us in our brains, morphing into something very much alive. It’s the key that turns on the engine of imagination.

4. Do I have a memory of someone reading aloud to me?

Yes, indeed. And it is a radio memory. From the mid 1950’s to 1991, Bill Cavness was the host of a daily program called, “Reading Aloud” broadcast daily on our local public radio station. I would tune in often to listen to him read long-form novels, short stories, poems and more. Bill predated audio books that are now so popular. He inspired millions with is words. I was also introduced to the Golden Age of Radio programs many years after they originally premiered. Listening to the collected adventures of Sherlock Holmes or the tales of Edgar Allan Poe served to hook me in. It wasn’t long before I hungered to read Conan Doyle and others after hearing their works acted out on radio.

5. Share with us some final meditations on the power of reading aloud and reading in general?

C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.” I love the thought. Reading connects us to all things and all people. It allows our mind to expand; it nurtures and promotes the two C’s of success--- creativity and curiosity. The saddest thing for anyone has to be the feeling that he or she is left out, that a door to knowledge and discovery has been closed to them. We enjoy blessed freedoms in this nation, never to be taken for granted. When one has the opportunity to digest ideas, concepts and tales of all kinds, one is sure to be enriched for a lifetime. A few years back, I interviewed a very popular film and television actor named Lance Hendrickson. He’s had a very successful acting career despite not learning to read until his early thirties. To hear Lance tell it, literacy was the greatest gift he could imagine. And discovering reading as an adult was like being born again into childhood. Lance in turn has given back so much to his audiences,
reading, interpreting and delivering scripts written by others. The process of language, the written word and our ability to incorporate it enriches all aspects of our lives. Everyone should be able to share in that magic.

To learn more about Jordan Rich, visit him on his websites: http://www.jordanrich.com/ and www.chartproductions.com