Never Fear Being Different: An Introduction
I went to Westminster College, a small private school in Western PA. In high school I wore tall T's and had a brass knuckle belt buckle. I wasn't a gangster but I was a huge fan of 90's hip hop and my lunch table was 90% black (There were 10 people total so do the math). Westminster resembled one of my favorite memes. It wasn't culture shock or anything. I didn't come from the hood. It was mild so you can put the protest sign down - I wasn't appropriating a culture. Just within my friend group, things were different. The environment was different. Interaction had the biggest disparity.
We didn't talk about the news or politics. I was a sociology major and had to take some Poli-Sci courses. In one of the first classes, we were asked whether we identified as a conservative or liberal. I didn't know what I was because I didn't know what either of those things were. To my 18 year old self's defense, politics just kind of existed then. Politics are now more entertaining and dangerous. The point is that I felt that I didn't belong.
I learned to adapt to Westminster and the shift in sense of humor and conversation topics, but I was bored to death. One day it came to me - Never Fear Being Different (NFBD). I'm going to create a group like me and get the message out there. So I told my friends Markus Allen and Brian Rice, these were 2 people I leaned on heavily. We were alike in the ways that mattered. So now what? We had no clue. I reached out to a couple other people and formed this group, a facebook group. I didn't really know what to do next, I just had an idea.
I took my love of hip hop and learned how to make beats. I torrented fake movies for years and now figured out how to get Adobe Audition. I was terrible at it. I have no musical inclination, but I liked doing it. Markus and I cleared out a room above my garage and I used a college loan check to buy a mic and other equipment. We were going to become hip hop superstars. I would produce and NFBD would become a group that spreads our message.
I lacked self-awareness and vision, but all of this made me feel better. It provided comfort in a way that allowed me to grow. I remember the day Markus's mom died and we came back to the studio. "Let's pour all the emotion into a song." We were young and dumb but we liked the way this made us feel. Our big hit "It's Summer, I'm Single." came next. We weren't going anywhere with hip hop. We wanted to revolt against weed rappers and all that support them, that's what NFBD was then.
I totally get why kids want to rap or play sports. In my school, you needed to fit a mold. Teachers were more concerned with getting through the day than inspiring creativity. We didn't know the other options. MTV and ESPN were the most prominent teachers in our lives.
My senior year I roomed with Connor Kobis. Connor was good friends with Adam Carswell. They held the golden ticket. They were broadcast communication majors. This meant access to Westminster's studios - professional mics AND equipment. Connor and Adam had a radio show "Z101". I though it was so cool. I started getting involved with Adam and his music. I helped market and got on a couple verses. It was more about a release than it was thinking I'd make it in music. I didn't feel as frustrated.
Connor and I decided to start our own podcast. These weren't a thing then. Let's shake up the campus. We had dry humor and constantly bickered. It was funny. The best kind of humor is when no one's totally sure you are joking.
I remember Coach Hand calling Connor and me over after football practice. "I got an email from President Dorman (President of Westminster), the head of the communications department, and numerous other individuals about something called 'Wake Up Westminster'" Our first episode was the night before. News traveled fast. We were scared, but felt GREAT. Our goal was to shake up the campus and be funny while doing it. If you zoom in on that profile picture, you can see the logo isn't relevant to the podcast title.
The podcast could keep going, but we couldn't use Westminster in the title. I was FURIOUS. Looking back now, the 1st amendment probably didn't apply here because it was a private institution, but whatever give me my free speech.
I was a marketing genius with acronyms. Too Much Information (TMI) was launched. Every class I had was spent thinking of segments for TMI. We would launch it once a week. We just thought we'd get a couple listens. We were getting 300 - 400 plays an episode. On a campus, with 1500 students, this wasn't bad at all. Half of those fans listened out of of pure hate. Segments included: Rate a Zeta (a sorority), Campus Bachelor of the Week, Power Couples, Campus Controversies, and other idiotic but entertaining ideas. We held a social fantasy draft. Pick your wingman, person you want to back you up in a fight, designated driver, etc. We specialized in satire before The Onion was as popular as it is now. We started controversies amongst sororities (sorry about that). I remember Connor was about to date a girl and she REFUSED because he was on TMI.
"That's Jordon's thing. I just help him out" - Connor to that girl
Shutup Connor. Could TMI have been the boost the podcast app on your iphone needed? You won't tell me otherwise.
I graduated and other forms of social media became more prevalent. I lived in Europe for 2 summers playing football and got big into audiobooks and inferior podcasts.
NFBD stayed on my mind and I learned about business. This isn't about NFBD as a business. We launched a camp and leadership program. I went to schools around the US to speak. You can see how the business came to operate as we are today on our story on the site. . I still wanted to entertain. I wanted my opinions out there. I felt that I could offer a realistic criticism of society in a way that could entertain and open minds.
Here we are today with my first blog post. I will be doing this daily. I'll comment on all topics (especially current events) You can expect me to be sarcastic and critical. I want to be an outlet for those dealing with the same frustrations I once had. It can be friends, relationships, society, or success; I want to provide a solution to these frustrations.
Expect more videos and interviews as well. If you have anything to offer, let me know.
If you enjoy this, boost my ego by commenting and sharing. If you don't enjoy this, destroy my ego by commenting and sharing something negative.
Jordon Rooney is the Founder/CEO of NFBD
Contact Jordon at Jordon@NFBD.org