“I let them disagree and express their viewpoints,” says WJOB’s Jim “Jed” Dedelow of his approach to his morning show, describing how he continues to implement the values he learned working at WJOB in the 70s, that focused on free speech, independent thought, and a little bit of confrontation to make sure you serve your community.
Jed got his start in radio at WJOB in the mid-80s, right out of college. He left to work at the Chicago Board of Trade and made enough money so that he and his wife Alexis could buy the station out of bankruptcy.
Their vision for WJOB has always been to provide quality to the Region, from the Region. And for Jed, that means keeping with the times.
“We are heavily into streaming TV. We’ve been doing that for a number of years. We were one of the first places to do Facebook live.”
Jed even commissioned the Hey Jud! App, so people can talk into it for 20 seconds and their stuff goes on air.
“I’m thankful that there’s so many colorful characters around here who do odd things and we accept all of that and are willing to talk about that,” Jed said, “I get a pretty quirky group and, even though they all disagree, they’re pushing the mission of WJOB forward, which is to be part of the region.”
Part of the WJOB mission is supporting all the good Region Rats are doing every day. The app facilitates getting the word out, as altruists can give airtime to their causes du jour. The station also gives extended air time to the most active in the community.
“Will Glaros brings people on his show from all walks of life, but a lot of times they’re charity oriented,” Jed said, “Gloria Morris of speakingofcharity.com is booked through the end of the year because there’s so many charities that want to get on and don’t have a lot of outlets. Where do you go to promote that you’re having an event to do good for people?”
Jed graduated from the University of Southern California, which is where he learned the importance of putting purpose ahead of paycheck.
“That’s in our mission. To make sure that the philanthropic community has valuable outlets,” Jed said. “We promote a lot of charities and the good work being done in the community.”
Another aspect of being deeply rooted in the Region is that WJOB gets to help more than the needy. They also help develop local talent. Located on the Purdue University Northwest campus, Jed can pull from nearby high schools as well as college students.
“Being on campus is the main reason we can move into new media. We’ve got top-of-the-line studios here, and we get top-level talent.”
By employing, marketing, and broadcasting students, Jed finds that he can follow their lead while they actually show him what to do.
For instance, the Hey Jed! App was written by a Junior from Gavit High School.
“We couldn’t afford that level of code, but we find little pockets of amazing talent right here,” Jed said, “People don’t realize there is so much talent schooled here. I’m just now seeing how much talent there really is.”
Jed calls the Region a “tinderbox of innovation,” but laments that a lot of the top talent leaves for cities like Indianapolis and Chicago. Retaining talent is at the top of his mind. He notes that, although a lot of talent moves away, they tend to come back when they’re ready to have families.
“Kids whose parents made them listen to WJOB find me at Stracks and admit they listen to me every morning like my mom did and her mom did,” Jed said, “They complain, ‘I can’t believe I’m turning into my parents!’”
WJOB has spent the last 90 years as the voice of the Region, and enacting Jud’s vision has helped push WJOB forward year after year. With streaming video and other innovations, Jed hopes WJOB will also be seen as the face of the Region.
“The region has never had a commercial TV station, and I plan to give it one,” Jed said. “Chicago has at least 7 major TV stations.”
In the mid-80s, Jed proposed this idea to one of his mentors, who responded that Northwest Indiana would never have its own television station because it’s so close to Chicago and “It’s been like that forever.”
“When streaming became available, I started investing in it,” Jed said, noting that his morning show is broadcast on both the radio and TV, “Now we have a lot of opportunities for people to get on local video and local advertisers to have their spots on it.”
“There is a huge appetite from local advertisers for their commercials to be played alongside local content,” Jed said. WJOB streams local sports events to satiate that appetite, but there’s a lot of local content to be captured, and Jed is just the man for the job.
“I picture it as taking a backseat to the color of the region, and it never disappoints,” Jed said. “That’s the star of what we’re doing here. There’s so many colorful characters with genuine lives and opinions. If you just let it play out, it doesn’t disappoint.”