Name: Jordan Taylor
Radio Name: Sister Pirate Jenny (2017- current), Helvidius (2006-2016)
Show: Radio Freedonia, Saturday, 2 – 4 p.m.
Day Job: Teacher, St. Anne’s Belfield School – American Studies, Literature and Film
Volunteer: The Bridge Progressive Arts (Board Member and sometime programmer since mid2000s)
How long have you been a host at WTJU? I think all told it’s 15 years this year.
Why did you become a WTJU host?
I loved doing radio and had been put in touch with Nick Rubin through some old friends at Phish and he encouraged me to come in. A decade and half later and Freedonia in maybe 4-5 different slots, I have now browbeaten Nick into becoming my “radio life partner.”
Why should someone tune into your show in particular?
Well, I think we all aim to put some care and nuance into how we assemble music; not even just in the John Henry beat the algo type of spirit, but I guess you should tune in because I will always be genre catholic, I waste a lot of perfectly good time and money to find new and reissued music, and if I do it right it feels like a good musical autobiography with some community announcements. As for me specifically (versus say my partner), I do this really cool thing where I talk real fast but delicately spice it with uhms, and an odd staccato – that is kind of disorienting. Poubelle is chill and like an aural quaalude…
Tell us about one of your biggest gaffs while in the studio:
I don’t know what the statute of limitations are about playing potty mouth during non-safe harbor time. I would preface it by saying (taps mic for committee): I intended to fade all of those out. Maybe during the dark days of Burr Beard in what I thought would be a final(ish) show, I might have an appropriate UVa synergy thing: to be cavalier in my editing a few bangers for air.
Favorite moments in the air studio?
Oh lots. Several really lovely and fun New Year’s Eve shows where we hit everything on the 1 with Parliament. In terms of just raw musical crush stuff, interview Eleanor Friedberger to discover we loved the same Thin Lizzy song and then realizing I brought the record with me and then just hearing in the back of my mind Wicked Sharkie saying Guitararmonies!
If you could interview anyone on air, dead or alive, who would it be?
Round table: Duke Ellington, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, David Berman
What are your guilty pleasures?
Really only believe in the idea of guilty pleasure for the purposes of a Marathon fundraising show (big ups to Danny and Matt for killing it over the years with this one), but I just don’t think you should feel bad or guilty and generally don’t think we need more regimes of emotions in an area that is already thick with emotional messages about how you should feel. I guess those hepped-up versions of classical music or enjoying the musicality of a pretty racist lyric maybe but please put me down for guilty pleasures are the fascist in your brain. Nuremberg them immediately!
How has it felt being a radio host during this pandemic?
Amazing! The stream has been bumping and I have been listening to probably 200-300% more radio – feeling that connection with all those other streamers and listeners is what makes my little space garden capsule feel connected to others.
What are your passions outside of music?
To be difficult, I object to the rank romanticism of the framing. But to be sincere, I love reading and gardening and collaging and watching networks of living things, interacting. In my classroom, I have a Tomi Ungerer poster for a hospital and it just says: “Help to grow; grow to help” — and honestly, that piece of chiasmus covers it for me mostly. Maybe add a parenthetical with kindness and generosity with it because G-D loveth adverbs.
Why does WTJU matter?
Local broadcast and cultural institutions are not in over-supply. And places where people connect across a range of music as well as a variety of other social boundaries is the reason that it is not that WTJU matters – it’s that we need so many more places and organizations that bring people to each other in meaningful ways. Sometimes I think we have one of those Zen koan: enjoy the pearl in your hand. We don’t want to take it for granted but a 64 year old free form community radio station with the kind of cultural connections it has strikes me as amazing and worth celebrating.
Would you rather be a famous singer or be able to bring your favorite deceased singer back to life?
Bring Dead back to life for sure!
Would you rather be trapped in an elevator with a banjo player, a bagpipes player, or an accordian player?
Bagpipes – it would be insane anyway but watching the innate musicality of a goat bladder is something you want to be close for.