10 Questions with ... Jarard J
January 13, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in radio in 2001 at Power 98.3 in Phoenix, as overnight/fill-in personality. After nine months, I was promoted by Bruce St. James to evening personality where I spent four years. In 2006, I was promoted again by Bruce to afternoon-drive personality where I remained for seven years until my departure in April of 2012. And now, I am the weekend afternoon-drive personality at the biggest Urban station in the country, V-103 Atlanta
1. Your career path for broadcasting has been unique; tell us about all about your college football days and how it plays into radio?
Well, I played tailback for Arizona State University as part of a proud, championship team. Football is a sport that becomes more than a sport very quickly. Football becomes a part of your everyday life. As I endured the challenges of training, and the mental as well as physical testing I went through, I learned a lot about myself as a person. I became familiar with what my real limitations are vs. what I thought they were. And the two are always different. I found out that I can be pushed far past the levels that I initially thought I could, which led to experiencing results and triumphs that I initially did not think were possible for me.
That concept did something extraordinary for my confidence level. It allowed me to accept the often shunned away possibility that I actually can achieve the perceptions of what it means to be "great" to the outside world, regardless of what my own standards of greatness make me believe "greatness" is.
With that said, being a radio personality requires some of the same ingredients that being a football player does. I must have a high level of confidence in myself and my capabilities. I must be able to think on the fly, and be very witty. That comes into play as soon as I crack the mic because I am love on-air. It is happening in real time. On the football field, it's the same thing because one needs to be able to react to whatever is happening at any given time. I may have a pre-selected play that I am running, but as soon as the ball is snapped, that play becomes merely a template. The moves needed to make within that play are impossible to forecast. One has to be able to instantly react to whatever that defender is doing, in order to allude him and gain yards and "move the chains."
2) You had 12 great years on the radio in Phoenix; give us some of the highlights...
Maaaaaaaan, you don't have enough space for me to give you all of the highlights, but a few big ones come to the top of my mind. The biggest one, by far, are the countless amount of interactions I was able to have with so many different people, whose lives I was blessed to be a part of for the course of my tenure there. I was able to impact people in ways that I never thought possible. Check this out: I used to do a feature called the "4 O'clock Forum," which was a talk forum where I dealt with relationship issues that people go through on a daily basis. I would have people call in and tell me what was going on in their situation, then we would talk about it and try to help them see some different perspectives, and possible solutions to the problem. Well, there was one particular instance in which I was talking to a couple about what they were going through and they were on the verge of a divorce at the time. We ended up having a very deep conversation, all live on the air. Then at a later date, the guy walked up to me while I was on stage hosting a concert and said to me "I just want to thank you, you kept my marriage together." he pointed to his wife, and said "we are here, together ... and that is because of you. We owe you." I will never forget that.
Not that I can really follow that, but some other great things were the times I had as the emcee of so many club nights. That is actually how my radio career started. I was on the mic in a club that was promoted by Urban AZ, Bruce St James walked up to me and said "can you do that on the radio?" and the rest is ... as they say ... history.
I had some tough times that were very memorable as well. I was on the air at the moment Aaliyah died, and I had to break that news to the public. I was also on the air when Michael Jackson died, and I had to break that news, too. Those were probably the toughest memories I carry. I have been trained in life to have a short-term memory when dealing with adverse times, but those two will always be embedded within my mental scrapbook.
3) What are the keys to connecting with listeners?
The biggest key is to be naturally relatable. People tuning in need to feel that they can relate to you as if you are one if them.
You need to be able to talk TO them, and not AT them. I feel that when a personality has no real connection with the audience, the audience can tell.
4) How did you land the weekend Friday night/Saturday afternoon gig at V103 in Atlanta? Is that why you moved there?
The funny thing is, I came to Atlanta initially because I was getting recruited by AutoNation, and not because I had radio opportunities. It made sense though, because I wanted to come to Atlanta anyway. I actually had a feeling that I was done with radio. l will always love and honor the KKFR brand because in a sense I was born there. That radio station gave me a platform to develop into who I was going to be as a radio personality, and that city embraced me to a level that I could have never imagined would be possible. So, I felt I had accomplished major successes, and I always wanted to feel like when I left, that the city would remember me. I felt that I had achieved that. But it was time for me to grow as a person, and as a talent and I'm thankful for how things happened in a sense because it forced me to explore that. My time there had run its course.
I was receiving a lot of interest from various stations, but nothing was materializing. There were a lot of conversations being had, but the timing just wasn't good for one reason or another. My agent kept telling my how "amazing" of a talent I was, but I wasn't landing anywhere. So I just felt like maybe it was over and I needed to move on with life.
Right before I came to Atlanta, I went to Palm Springs, CA to unplug, and do some reflecting on life, and where I was going. When my vision was clear, and the decision was made to accept the job with AutoNation, I called my agent and told him that I was moving to Atlanta. I told him that whatever we needed to do to get an opportunity in radio in Atlanta, needed to be done. It was clear that this is the city I wanted to be in, and If I was going to get back in the game, I wanted it to be here ... in Atlanta.
He set up some meetings, one of which was with Reggie Rouse. Reggie and I had a very insightful conversation, and after an audition and a few more meetings, he took a chance on me. I am eternally grateful for that, because I know it was a risk on Reggie's part. After all, I was coming from a Top 40 in a predominantly Latino market, to an Urban market, at the biggest Urban station in the nation. There was no guarantee that the market would accept me. And now, by all blessings from God, I sit as the #1-rated weekend afternoon jock in the market. It's surreal.
5) You have an interesting life, as weekdays you are a Finance Manager for Auto Nation. How does that play into your radio thing?
How does it play in?! It really doesn't at all. But I was always raised with the ideology that a man needs to always have the skills to be able to have more than one legitimate way to provide for his family. And even though I don't have children or a wife, I have adopted a certain lifestyle that I choose to want to work to maintain. One thing I will say though is that radio is what keeps me sane. Being in finance is very stressful for various reasons, and the fact that I get to step away and get behind the mic and do what I truly love, keeps me balanced enough to keep pushing. To be honest, without the mic, my whole life and psychology changes. God's blessing with the opportunity to be able to be in that on-air studio gives me the strength I need in order to continue to stand tall throughout life's windstorm.
6) How have you changed over the years?
I have allowed the experiences of life to mature me a great deal over the course of my career. I have dealt with adversities like death, heartbreak, rejection and disappointment to a pretty high level, but I always try to find the lesson in any experience so that I may continue to grow and develop. The main thing that has "changed" within me is that I have become far more humble than I once was. See, I have now had this taken away from me, and that opened my eyes. In retrospect, I'm glad that happened because it forced me to step out of the "complacency zone" and seek further ascension.
7) Which direction do you see your future taking?
I want to continue to develop as a talent, and as a man. I think its imperative to always remain coachable and able to retain knowledge. Fortunately, at V-103 I am surrounded by people who are greats within this game. I probably have a bit of an unfair advantage because I get to absorb knowledge and learn from big names like Big Tigger, Ryan Cameron, Wanda Smith, Joyce Litel, Ramona Debreux, Greg Street and Reggie Rouse on a daily basis.
Quite frankly, I am still wrapping my head around the reality that I actually am at the same radio station as those people, and I get to sit in the same room as them in staff meetings and be in their company so I can see what real success in this industry looks like. It's an amazing thing. I will continue to focus on exercising my work ethic and being a sponge, so that hopefully one day I can sit back and say that I achieved a comparable level of greatness.
8) Your background has been so varied, would you share with us those who have influenced your life choices and how they did so?
My biggest influences are now, and have always been those whom rely on me everyday to influence them. The power of the microphone is one of the greatest powers on earth, and to know that people make it a point to allow me to come into their world and share the good, the adverse, and the memorable times with them means more to me than just about anything in life. It makes me want to fight through whatever I may be going through personally at any given time, to make sure I'm there for them. As personalities, we are relied upon by the people to give them whatever it is they need from us. Whether it be something to change their mood, or updates on what's going on with their favorite celebs, or their favorite song, or information on what's going on in the world, they rely on us, and we owe them.
9) What do you like about Atlanta so far?
Atlanta is full of culture. Everywhere I go, I see different types of people, with different ways of living based off of having different beliefs, moral, and value structures. It's very important to be in a place where I can have exposure
to different cultures and their exclusivities. Plus, one can never get bored in this city. Regardless of what a person's interests are, there are countless things to do and explore here. Lastly, Atlanta is rich with history, and I'm not just talking about civil rights history, but U.S. history. Not to mention, I am convinced that some of the most beautiful women walking the planet live here in Atlanta!
10) Is there a pet peeve of your which really gets to you?
I don't have too many things that bother me, but my main one is disrespect. I don't think I dislike anything more than feeling like I have been disrespected. Disrespect carries different meaning, depending on who you're asking so it can sometimes be a matter of whether or not an offender has actual disrespectful intentions, but all in all that is my biggest pet peeve.
I also don't like hypocrites. It bothers me when a person expects things that are not willing to give or do themselves.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love cars and commercial jetliners. So I stay up on everything from what the complete Bentley lineup is, to how much thrust a Boeing 777 engine has. I enjoy movies quite a bit, so I like to hit the theatre when I can or watch movies at home.
But my main thing I dive into is the drum kit. I am a drummer, so if I have any time, you will most likely find my on the kit practicing. It is there, that I find the most serenity.
Could you explain the role sport's has played in your life?
Team sports have taught me the concept of teamwork, and the art of knowing and embracing my role on the team. Certain roles or positions get more notoriety than others, but all of the positions are equally important to the success of the team. That is a very important concept to carry through life. Additionally, being competitive has taught me a great deal about what my limitations are. Our minds and our bodies can do incredible things that most of us have no idea is even possible. Understanding this concept has helped me to push through thresholds that could be perceived as barriers, when they are in fact only mirages.
Would you share some of the important life lessons you have learned along your career path?
Overall, I think the biggest lesson I have learned, is to remain humble in life. Regardless of what success you obtain, or what type of things happen in your life to boost your pride, it can all be taken away from you in an instant. Over the course of our lives as entertainers, we all stray off of the path of humility from time to time, because we are all human. However, it is ever so important to remember how you got there in the first place, and what life was like before you got there.