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Media: May 2021 • “Call Him Dash”

| April 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

Dash

 

First of all, let’s get an explanation of the name. The night jock at WTMX is named Dash.

“All my life, when I told people my name,” he explains, “I would say Jordan Gabriel Orman-Weiss. The dash was part of my last name. That’s where the name Dash comes from.”

Secondly, Dash is a youngster. He’s only 26 years old. Chicago radio doesn’t ordinarily bring in young talent anymore. What was once commonplace (people like Steve Dahl, Bob Sirott, Fred Winston, and John Landecker were all in their 20s when they arrived in Chicago) is now a rarity.

Where did Dash come from? Did he work his way up through the smaller markets in America? Not exactly, unless you count the excellent college radio station at the University of Illinois.

“I was at WPGU from 2012-2016 at the University of Illinois. I didn’t realize what a strong alumni network there is in Chicago. People like Phil Manicki, Greg Easterling, and Whip, just to name a few that I’ve already worked with.”

Dash has worked his way into this shift the old-fashioned way. He busted his tail until people noticed. In his case, the right people noticed. He got an internship at the Drive. The Drive is owned by the same company that owns WSHE and the Mix (WTMX), and they all reside in the same hallway. Soon Dash was getting opportunities with both of those stations as well.

“I was doing the PA thing/intern thing at the Drive, which I absolutely loved. I was a roadie with Sherman and Tingle and used to go to their Thirsty Thursdays. I was just getting ready to go to law school when they gave me a shot at doing overnights on SHE-FM. When they got rid of overnights company-wide, I luckily got bumped up to weekends on SHE-FM, and then COVID hit. Our morning show producer was immuno-compromised, so he wouldn’t come in during COVID, so I filled in when I could. There were days I was filling in at night, sleeping on the couch for a few hours, and then filling in as the producer of the morning show without going home. I think people respected that I was willing to do it. I loved it. I was young and could do it.”

He wasn’t only young; he was tech-savvy. He was multi-platform. He knew where his generation hung out in the digital world. And he arrived at a time when the industry was starving for contributions from his generation, a generation they are in fear of losing forever.

“It’s cool that the company values me as a potential connection to the Generation Z and even the younger millennials to help convert them into being radio listeners,” he admits. “The idea is that you reach out to them first on a different platform. I’ve made two different TikTok’s the past year that has reached over 500,000 people. The company liked that I took that initiative and worked on things they might not have even thought about before. Connect first, and then, oh yeah, by the way, when you’re in the car, turn on the radio. Or tell your Alexa to turn on 101.9 the Mix Chicago.”

Not that he forgets where his bread is buttered.

“Don’t get me wrong. Content and on-air presentation are still first and foremost the most important things, but in terms of converting audience, it’s really cool to think a kid that watches my TikTok and then gets their first car, their first pre-set might be the Mix because that’s one that he or she has heard about.”

Dash seemed to be headed in this direction literally since his birth.

“My mom is the publicist for Ella Jenkins, the first lady of folk. She’s still alive and lives in Uptown, and she was playing at Ravinia the night I was born, and she announced on stage that her publicist just gave birth to her fourth child.”

His family connections to Chicago run deep.

“My family business is approaching 70 years in Uptown. My grandfather started it up with his two brothers. It’s got a giant Neon sign. Uptown Carwash. 4900 N. Broadway.”

And since he was named the night jock in June of 2020, he now has one of the top radio mentors working with him to become an important part of the Chicago media landscape.

“I’ve got (WTMX program director) Jimmy Steal coaching me, which is amazing. He gives me something of value every week. He saw my value early and appreciated my drive and hard work, and it’s great to have a mentor. That’s getting harder and harder to find. He’s helped so many get to the next step, and I’m hoping he can do that for me too.”

Early results are encouraging. In the most recent radio ratings, Dash’s show placed in the top ten.

“I still have this imposter syndrome thing when I see the ratings. How is it possible that I’m on the same rating list as John Landecker or Bob Stroud? I get to see Bob Stroud all the time in the hallways. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I’m living the dream.”

And if this radio thing doesn’t work out long-term?

“If this is the last big wave of radio, I want to ride it high like [Jeff] Spicoli in Fast Times [at Ridgemont High].”

-Rick Kaempfer

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