All images courtesy of LoCLE Grown
Why do we do what we do? It’s a question anyone working in music media has been asked before. The money isn’t great, the hours can be insane, and the perceived impact of of what we do has dwindled in the age of Spotify, iTunes and the internet.
The answer for me has always been the same. I love music, I love going to shows, and I want the great bands in this state to thrive. I want people to know about what I love, and I want people to find their new favourite band.
Last week, I had the opportunity to link up with Clevelanders Jordan Laird and Jordan Urban, who run a local music themed program called LoCLE Grown on 88.3 The Sting, Cleveland’s Modern Rock Alternative. When I saw the tag “great music sprouts from the underground,” I knew I had to check them out.
What I found was an exciting radio show where the two hostesses do interviews with local artists, as well as play local tracks throughout the hour. Urban says they started with a unique goal.
“Our goal, first and foremost is to promote the scene. Every week we try to introduce a new band or business. We’ve been doing it for almost two years consecutively; even doing it from home during Covid!”
“We’ve actually had a couple people say that their website traffic quadrupled after they were on our show!” says Laird. “We definitely did not expect to hear that, but we’re thrilled!”
The duo heavily utilizes Instagram Live for their broadcasts and has a loyal following that they say has worked well both for them and the people they interview.
“We started in October of 2019 and it was honestly just the two of us,” adds Laird. “When we had bands, they would play live in studio. When we interviewed businesses, we would do giveaways on Instagram Live!”
The duo divulged that they had been next door neighbors for over a decade and had started hanging out because they had the same name. But it was their love of music that really brought them together.
“We both love going to shows, and we even perform as an acoustic duo sometimes under the name Urban Lair,” says Urban.
“You know, like our names, without the D at the end of mine!” laughs Laird.
But how do you go from friends and neighbors to co-hosting a radio show? Laird says it started in school for her.
“I went to BW (Baldwin Wallace University) for broadcasting and public relations. But 88.3 is home for me; every semester I was doing different jobs there,” she explains. “I invested a lot of time, so I know exactly what they want and need.
“I feel like I went to college literally to work at this station,” she said with a smile. “The thing is, Urban didn’t go to school for any of this, but I can safely say she’s running the show and could put this on any resume.”
I could definitely feel the camaraderie between the two Jordan’s the more we spoke. They play off of each other perfectly, almost as if they were meant to do a gig like this together. You only have to listen to their show for a few segments before you feel it as well.
“I always wanted to do a show for locals, too,” continues Laird. “Cleveland’s local scene, the whole general vibe is about supporting local. When this show started it was Top 40 radio, and I didn’t want to do chart toppers anymore. I was just grateful that they let me go along with this idea.”
I had watched a few of their Instagram Live sessions during the pandemic, and was surprised to see that they had scheduled an all-day local music marathon at the beginning of July.
“We had actually done it last year, but a little differently,” says Laird. “The Sting already does a different single local artist featured all day on Thursdays, but we wanted to showcase a different artist every hour for 18 hours.”
Both of them turned to each other and laughed just thinking about the experience.
“Anyways, for the odd hours we were doing Cleveland, Youngstown, Columbus; all smaller indie artists,” said Laird. “For the even hours we were doing bigger national acts like The Black Keys, Nine In Nails… Dean Martin! Did you know he was from Steubenville?”
“So we had been out of studio for a while, and I said ‘why don’t we do ALL local ones this year?’” beamed Urban. “Honestly, it worked out really well for us, despite how exhausting it might sound. Having the live music in studio kept us going. We started at 6 a.m. and got out of the studio around 1:30 a.m.”
“But it was a new artist every hour. We made sure that we had a bunch of different genres, like hip-hop, folk, rock, indie, acoustic…” continued Laird. “That kept us awake as well!”
“We set it up so we would do a 45-minute interview with live songs, and then a 15-minute break to reset for the next act,” described Urban. “It’s a pretty small studio so we had to work to spread things out between us, but every artist we had was amazing!
“My goal was that if you tuned in for the entire day, you would find at least one artist to love.”
To call their plan ambitious would be somewhat of an understatement. I tuned in for a few hours that afternoon and they were rolling with every band they interviewed. It was almost as if the pandemic had never interrupted their regular broadcasting schedule.
“But we had been out of the studio for seven months. It felt really good to get back into the swing of things!” said Urban.
It was at this point in the interview that we had to pause due to a pizza showing up at the house of Jordan. Having not spent a lot of time in the 216, I had to get their scoop on the best place to get a pie for my next trip up there.
“I dunno… I love a good deep dish, but I also love a good thin crust pizza,” pondered Urban. “I do love Romeo’s, and Antonio’s. Also, I know this might be controversial, but we love pineapple on pizza! It’s not like a religion or anything, it’s just delicious!”
Now we were all laughing, because I’m a huge fan of pineapple pizza as well. And, you know, who doesn’t love talking about pizza?! Anyways…
“You know what? I know it’s not pizza related, but I have to say this since it’s apparently a big deal in Columbus,” interrupted Laird. “We LOVE Raising Cane’s, too! Thank you so much for sending that up our way!”
All three of us agreed that we want no slaw, extra toast on our Caniac Combos before getting back to the Cleveland scene. Having only ever been to Cleveland for one show (at the legendary House of Blues), I had to scoop their minds about where I needed to go to catch a show.
“Well, I just recently went to the Beachland the other day. It was a socially distanced show with maybe 40 people there, but the music and the vibe was incredible,” began Urban. “It looks like an elementary school without the lockers!”
“Jacobs Pavillion is a really beautiful place right in the middle of downtown,” added Laird. “It’s right on the river and has a very aquatic feel to it. It’s basically an outdoor mini amphitheater… small enough to be intimate, but big enough for have a booming sound system.
“I went to a really cool show recently at a place called re:bar. They were doing art installments and musical performances together. We both relate more to the underground side of things.”
When I asked about their favorite artists, both girls eyes lit up. I feel like that must be what it’s like when I’m talking about music, and I was enthralled at their variety of choices.
“I have to give a huge shout out to Jul Big Green. He’s done both of our marathons and tunes into every Instagram Live session we do,” says Urban.
“He’s a staple for Cleveland. He’s the spider that makes the web that connects every single band who needs something,” added Laird. “He made a theme song for our little show right after our first interview with him. He literally created a beat and a song for our marathon as well.”
“I love the Vindys from Youngstown – they’re a real bluesy rock act,” continued Urban. “Uptight Sugar is another one I’ve been listening to a lot lately. Toby Raps is this dude who does hip-hop over an acoustic guitar and always wears this really disgusting dress when he plays.”
Hearing them talk up the bands made me want to check each of them out. I’ll admit that despite my depth in Columbus, I just don’t know enough about the Cleveland scene. I was grateful for the tips and when put back-to-back all of those bands made for a very interesting playlist.
As far as the future goes, the duo has a lot of great ideas in the making.
“I would really love to do something for our two year anniversary in October,” admits Urban.
“It was really hard to keep up with both sides during the pandemic, so we mostly featured bands,” says Laird. “I think we’re gonna shift our focus more towards the businesses around town. We really hope that by next summer we can bring the entire community together for a festival that highlights both indie music and small businesses!
“I’d also love to be able to take what we record at the station and turn it into a big podcast,” she continued. “Find some funding, not abide by the FCC guidelines anymore…” she laughed. “Let’s be honest – anyone who can end up doing the thing they love is a very happy person.”
“We love doing the show! Even if we never made any money, we just love spreading the love of music and showcasing things from Cleveland and all around Ohio!” finished Urban.
I think it’s safe to say that the future is bright for this dynamic duo. As far as being featured on LoCLE Grown, the Jordan’s say that one only needs to reach out.
“We’ll never turn anyone away who wants to talk about something they love!” says Laird.
“Honestly, we love it when people come out. Come our way and we’ll definitely show you some love,” expounds Urban. “A lot of people come into the station super nervous because we’re on the radio, but we like to be very chill and laid back.
“At the end of the day, we’re just a couple of cool chicks who love Cleveland!”
If you wish to reach out to Jordan and Jordan, you can e-mail LoCLEGrown@WBWC.com. You can tune into to WBWC through their website or the TuneIn App, and the show is always live at 10 p.m. every Tuesday night.