Ray P. Jordan - Broadcasting Pioneer
Ray P. Jordan, the vigorous young man who directs the destinies of WDBJ, The Times and World-News station of Roanoke, has been manager of the local broadcasting station during the past six years of its greatest progress, and has been officially or unofficially playing part in its growth since the first test broadcast in June, 1924, when his fiddle was the first musical instrument heard from a WDBJ studio. Crisp, energetic, and efficient, Mr Jordan keeps a hand on every phase of work at the station. Like many of the other present members of the staff, he first became connected with it through his previous employment by the Richardson-Wayland Electrical Corporation, founders and for many years operators of WDBJ.
Previous to that time, his career had been one of continued hard work, as would be expected of the man as he is today. Born in Blountville, Tennessee, on July 10, 1900, he moved with his family to California 10 years later, and then back to his native town in 1915. During the five years in California, the young Ray Jordan attended public schools and the Santa Ana Polytechnic High School.
This however, did not begin to give outlet to his energies, and at one time he was operating a shoe shine stand in a barber shop, working as a part-time soda clerk in a drug store across the street, was the only telegraph delivery boy in town, and held the local agency for three popular magazines in town. At another time in California he worked for a time with a newspaper while in school, first as delivery boy, and then in the circulation department helping to get the "Bulldog" edition on the early trains.
Finishing school in his home town in Tennessee, Jordan entered Daleville College near Roanoke, now combined with Bridgewater College, and finished the two-year course there in 1918. The day after he received his diploma in June of that year, he began a job with a Roanoke stationary store, spending two months there. This was the beginning of his residence in the city which has since been his home.
The first step upward in the career of the young man carried him to the general storekeeper's office in the Norfolk and Western shops, here. During this time he was rooming with a former schoolmate, Emory N. Smith, then a reporter on The Roanoke Times.
During the winter of 1918-1919 Mr. Jordan taught school in the Lee Junior High School here. It was in October of that year that the Roanoke schools were forced to close for several weeks because of the great influenza epidemic, and in order to occupy his time in this forced holiday, the young teacher began to work in the office of Richardson-Wayland Electric Corporation as a bookkeeper. Through the rest of that winter, he continued to hold the job there after school hours and on Saturdays -- returning to his early propensity for caring several jobs simultaneously.
At the close of the school term in 1919, Mr. Jordan again took full time work with the electrical company, remaining in their employ until station WDBJ offices were moved to the Times-World building in 1931, after the station was purchased by the publishing company in May of that year. While at Richardson-Wayland, Mr. Jordan took a correspondence course in advertising, and handled all the advertising of the firm; later he became store manager, holding that position until he gave all his time to radio work.
Interested in the progress in the young broadcasting station all along, Mr. Jordan took some part of the work from the beginning, and in the spring of 1929 gave up his other interest to devote all his time to it. He was at that time program director, and E. F. Maddox, the builder, was manager. In 1930, Mr. Jordan took over the duties of station manager he has held ever since.
On January 15, 1920, Ray Jordan was married to Miss Machel Evelyn Dulaney, of Roanoke, and now has three children. He has been choir director at the First Church of the Brethren here for the past 12 years, and is a member of that church. Hobbies? A visit to his private office on the ground floor of the new studio building will reveal one of them -- elephants. Elephants large, and elephants small, elephants pink, blue, green, black and even white, he has there in profusion. In addition, he will tell you, he loves to fish -- when he has time.