From student job to dream job

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The conference room on the second floor of the Broadcast Building has a view any BYU fan would envy as it overlooks the football stadium, with the mountains as a backdrop. Each morning this conference room is filled with the roaring laughter and excited yelling of the BYU Sports Nation team.

“It’s a very pretty scene in a very pretty building. I enjoy the whole thing the whole time,” said Jarom Jordan, co-host of BYU Sports Nation, volleyball play-by-play caller and producer of various BYUtv sports programs.

Provided by BYU Radio.
Jarom Jordan. (Provided by BYU Radio)

Jordan first became involved with BYU Broadcasting as a student in an elective sports broadcasting class where those enrolled were asked to volunteer on productions. From there he has been on an unusual path, taking him from a student job on camera to a full-time producer position and finally landing him a spot on the daily BYU sports talk show.

“At the beginning, for football I was utilities — holding the cord for the camera man — and I thought I had made it,” Jordan said.

The desire to be involved in sports broadcasting started early for Jordan. He said he knew at age 12 that being a sports broadcaster was his dream. He even mentioned that there might be recordings of attempted play-by-play from his childhood still around.

Spencer Linton, his co-host on BYU Sports Nation, first met Jordan in the same sports broadcasting class.

“I noticed this gregarious, self-assured person when it came to BYU athletics. I could immediately tell he was a fan and was serious about the business,” Linton said.

Linton wasn’t the only person to notice Jordan’s broadcasting abilities. Later that year when a student position opened up at BYU Broadcasting, Jordan received a call.

Now there are more than 40 students who work in the Broadcast Building for BYUtv sports, but at that time there were only two. Those two students did all of their work off camera. Jordan changed that when he became the first student to call a game.

“I’ll tell you the date,” Jordan said without hesitation. “March 30, 2006. It was my first time sidelining a game, and I was so nervous at the thought of being on camera. I was reporting on BYU and Colorado State … and it was softball, but I was really nervous.”

His boss at the time, Scott Hill, remembers giving Jordan the opportunity to be on camera for that game.

“He ended up calling so many games, but prior to that, we had all professionals on camera,” Hill said. “My goal was to train up the next generation of sportscasters, and I thought Jarom was ready. My bosses weren’t sure, but we let him try. He won everyone over and quickly became a main voice on BYUtv sports.”

From his first time sideline reporting, to fulfilling his childhood dream of doing play-by-play for the Cougars, Jordan’s time as a student employee was exceptional.

“No students were doing play-by-play before me. It was like a freshman starting quarterback. I don’t know how many wins I got, to stick with the analogy, but I think it worked out,” he said.

After his time as a student had come to an end, Jordan was interested in full-time employment with BYUtv, but as senior coordinating producer, Mikel Minor explained, going from a student job to a full-time job was not normal. The typical system in place — an “unspoken rule” — is that after working as a student, broadcast hopefuls are sent away to work in different markets and pay their dues.

“Jarom is atypical. Jarom didn’t go away because of need,” Minor said. “He wanted to be on-camera talent, but what I really needed was a producer. He had already been producing some of the show when I hired him to be the full-time producer. I told him his talent opportunities would be limited if he wanted to work here as a full-time job.”

Jordan took the full-time job and became the producer for True Blue, the pre- and post-game shows and all other sports specials, like the Y Awards and Boomshakalaka. His dream was to be on camera, doing play-by-play, but a stable job producing and a chance to stay with his favorite team was enough to sway him.

“I always thought that Jarom would have ties with BYU because I knew he was invested, and once he started working at BYUtv, I knew he’d be in for the long haul,” Linton said. “But for us to be together now, doing [BYU Sports Nation] reunited, covering sports, is an absolute miracle. The cosmos had to align for this to work out.”

Provided by BYU Radio.
Jarom Jordan in the BYU Radio studio. (Provided by BYU Radio)

Linton was newly hired as a play-by-play caller for Olympic sports when the idea of BYU Sports Nation was hatched. The show was initially created with two other hosts in mind, but when those plans fell though, producers began searching for new talent to fill the two hosting positions.

“We looked at plan B, which was Spencer (Linton), who we’d newly hired. The problem was who would co-host; quite honestly, I was looking at other options. Then I observed Spencer and Jarom interacting with each other around the shop here during the day and some of their natural banter,” Minor said. “It was one of those things where the answer was right in front of me, and boy was that the right answer.”

Jordan was brought back to the talent side of broadcast, this time for BYU Radio, where the show initially aired.

“With BYU Sports Nation, I was a little nervous at first because I’d never done anything on radio. The visual pressure isn’t there, but there’s more pressure because it’s something new,” Jordan said.

BYU Sports Nation launched with Linton and Jordan as the co-hosts in early September 2013, the Monday after the loss to Virginia.

“Well first of all, could you have picked a worse day to launch than after the Virginia loss?” Linton asked. “That first day I was on air felt like, not only are we launching a show and it’s brand new, but we have to talk every BYU fan off a cliff edge because we just lost to a team we should have beat by two touchdowns. We tried to be excited but real about the situation.”

It paid off. The show was an immediate hit on the radio, and plans to simulcast it on BYUtv were in motion. The show began airing on both BYU Radio and BYUtv in March.

“They talk to a younger demographic. They appeal to the social media generation. In the beginning, our management said, ‘They’re awful young looking,’ but my perspective was that that was a good thing,” Minor said. “Especially on a show like this; it’s very fun and very personality driven, but at the end of the day they have good insight, information, access and knowledge about BYU.”

Now, each weekday at 10 a.m., Jordan and Linton host their hour-long live show in Studio B. Behind a desk cluttered with BYU memorabilia, Jordan looks comfortable and calm on camera. Segments include pulling responses from Twitter, interviewing coaches and players and arguing about BYU sports topics.

Minor explained again that Jordan’s journey is an exception to many rules. When asked how he was able to do this, Jordan simply stated, “The timing worked out.”

“Jarom works really hard. If there’s one thing that defines Jarom Jordan, it’s that if he’s going to do something he’s going to do it well,” Linton said. “He doesn’t want to do anything that isn’t going to be high quality. So that opened a lot of doors for him.”

Hill, the man who Jordan says took the first real risk with him, said it all happened because of Jordan’s careful preparations.

“Everything he did he prepared so well,” Hill said. “Other kids were excited about things, but he really saw it as his career. Every little task, to research stats or call a coach, he did with such professionalism. He was an obvious choice for me.”

Minor agreed that timing was crucial to Jordan’s unusual rise from a student employee to a full-time producer to a personality on a daily talk show.

“It’s exceptional. The timing was so right. He was the beneficiary of two timing situations that are atypical to what we do,” Minor said. “In order for that to happen, it’s not just about being in the right place at the right time; it’s also the other component: having the skill that we needed.”

With BYU Sports Nation locked in, Jordan’s current goal is to just keep improving the show, although his end goal is the dream he had as a 12-year-old boy.

“My dream job is one step further, actually: doing play-by-play on football and basketball,” Jordan said. “Would I rather be a sports center anchor or the voice of the Cougars? The voice of the Cougars all the way. Greg Wrubell is aware of this; we’re good friends, but at some point in the future, when he’s done 20–80 years from now, I’d want it. That’s the end of the road for me.”

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