Although the roles may have shifted from news to drive-time music to podcaster and talk show host, Jordan Rich’s impressive career weathered a half-century in the mercurial field of Boston radio. In his new memoir, “ON AIR: My 50 Year Love Affair with Radio,” the longtime host of WBZ-AM’s ‘The Jordan Rich Show’ chronicles his remarkable run.
“It was my dream as a kid in junior high to impact and entertain on air, and I continue to live it out every day. Audiences here in Boston are like no other,” Rich said by email. “The greatest reward of my 50-year career has to be having the luck and opportunity to ply my craft in this market for so many years.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m., fans of Rich and the JCC of the North Shore Jewish Book Month Speaker Series are in luck for this double treat: The popular series will kick off its 27th year with an in-person opening night event featuring Rich at the JCC in Marblehead.
His book is chock-full of stories about the personalities local audiences know and love, and the changing landscape of Boston radio from the 1970s to the present. It also includes intimate details of Rich’s struggles with depression and how his honesty with his radio audience helped him to heal.
“When the voice in the night, the trusted, calming, funny voice reveals his human side, beautiful things can happen – and did for me,” Rich explained.
One story not in his book is the way he has coached and advised dozens of people, mentoring broadcasting students on their way into the business just as he was mentored in his young days. One protégé, writer, editor, and educator Matt Robinson, is delighted he’ll be interviewing Rich at the JCC event.
“In addition to being a friend, he is an inspiration and ardent supporter,” Robinson said.
The remaining 11 events will take place between Oct. 14 and Nov. 16 in COVID-mindful formats. “We’re hoping that, in whatever way you feel comfortable, you will plan to ‘join’ us for this year’s series, which features a combination of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events,” JBM committee chair Diane Knopf said.
Four novelists will share behind the scenes details about their latest works of fiction. Ronald H. Balson (“Defending Britta Stein”) and Pam Jenoff (“The Woman with the Blue Star”) will speak about their World War II-era stories, both inspired by true events (Oct. 14, 7 p.m. on Zoom). Best-selling Israeli author David Grossman will talk about“More Than I Love My Life,” the story of three generations of women on an unlikely journey to a Croatian island with a secret that needs to be told (Oct. 21, 12:30 p.m. on Zoom). Rounding out the category is Joshua Henkin’s “Morningside Heights: A Novel,” the sweeping and compassionate story of a marriage that survives immeasurable hardship (Nov. 9, 7 p.m. in person at the JCCNS).
Although memoir is a popular genre among this year’s lineup, the four authors differ dramatically in the experiences they share.
Jenna Blum’s “Woodrow on the Bench: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog” is a valentine to the treasured black lab who had been by her side for 15 years (Nov. 1, 7 p.m. in person at the JCCNS).
Tracy Walder tells the larger-than-life story of her journey from sorority sister at USC to CIA Middle East undercover operative and FBI counterintelligence specialist in the gripping, action-packed memoir, “The Unexpected Spy” (Oct. 26, 7 p.m. on Zoom).
Widely published columnist and Harvard University professor emerita Ruth R. Wisse chronicles her life’s journey from a childhood escape from the Nazis to her trail-blazing fight to gain academic equality for Jewish literature and Jewish women in “Free as a Jew: A Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation.” Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead will host the in-person event on Nov. 7 at 3 p.m.
Nhi Aronheim’s inspirational survival story starts with her escape from Vietnam through the Cambodian jungles. Eventually, she lands in the U.S. and converts to Judaism after marrying a Jewish man. “Soles of a Survivor” reveals her deeper appreciation for the humanity, diversity, and unconditional love she has experienced as a Vietnamese Jew (Nov 16, 7 p.m. on Zoom).
Completing this year’s literary menu are three nonfiction selections. In “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos,” Judy Batalion details the spectacular accomplishments of three brave Jewish resistance fighters. A community read in partnership with Abbot Public Library, Swampscott Public Library, and Salem State University’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies with a book discussion led by Izzi Abrams will be held in person at the JCCNS on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. A discussion with the author is scheduled for Nov. 14, 8 p.m., on Zoom.
Mahjong fans will have the chance to listen to Annelise Heinz’s virtual presentation of “Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture” while enjoying a Chinese dinner, wine and – of course – playing mahjong (Oct. 20, 6 p.m. in person at the JCCNS).
Finally, for those who have been anxious to know how the Israelis manage to succeed in the startup arena, veteran venture capitalist Uri Adoni shares the secrets to Israel’s incredible track record and the principles and practices that can make any startup succeed in “The Unstoppable Startup: Mastering Israel’s Secret Rules of Chutzpah” (Nov 14, 11 a.m. on Zoom).
For more information and to buy tickets, visit jccns.org.