“Family histories on HD proving to be a good niche business for Ch. 9’s Robert Jordan and SPI-TV….Partnering with SPI-TV Media Group, Jordans professionally custom-made Luxury Family Biographies are intended for families interested in chronicling their family story for current and future generations to enjoy.”
E. Warner Sills
“WGN newscaster Robert Jordan has pioneered a state-of-the-art way to capture your personal and family history for generations to come….”
NORTH SHORE MAGAZINE
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“In working with thousands of affluent families to preserve their wealth, we find that they are also very interested in preserving their own family history. Capturing a family’s ancestry including stories, values, customs and lessons learned through a family biography is a priceless gift to future generations. Jordan and Jordan Communications works with families to guide them in capturing their past, present and future.”
NORTHERN TRUST WEALTH MANAGEMENT GROUP
The family biography you produced on my father captured the essence of his life and the three generations that have followed. The story was wonderful. We showed the DVD to a gathering of family and friends. For an hour and a half we laughed and cried and cheered. When the story ended everyone broke out in spontaneous applause. I still have a lump in my throat.”
CEO, Midway Wholesalers
Thank you for telling our family’s story in such a sensitive, compelling and enjoyable manner. My children never knew all of the fascinating details surrounding their grandfathers life. The kids, now, have a new interest and pride in their family.”
President, Kogen Development Corporation
On behalf of my sisters and brothers I want to thank you for telling our mothers story in such a warm, funny and informative way. The surprise ending with mom singing a lullaby to one of us was a splendid way to end the biography. Needless to say, we shed tears of joy many times throughout the story. Bravo!”
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
The $80,000 Family Video: Big Spender
Jordan, an Emmy Award-winning reporter and anchorman for WGN Television in Chicago, has offered personal documentaries for the past seven years through his company, Video Family Biographies. Each year, he produces an average of two films.
The idea came to Jordan after he offered a favor to a family friend whose mother had passed away. Tapping into his broadcast background, he produced a video tribute to the beloved matriarch. The positive reaction to the finished product led Jordan to wonder whether there was a market for more comprehensive videos.
“I asked some of my fellow trustees for the Shedd Aquarium [in Chicago] if any of them had had a biography done,” he recalls. “One person had had a written biography produced, but no one had done anything in video.”
As Jordan started pricing professional expertise and equipment needed to meet his high-end vision, he worried that the cost might be out of reach.
“I knew the style I wanted to produce would be expensive, because I wanted to do them documentary style, much like what you would see on A&E [and the Biography Channel],” he says.
In addition to camera personnel, sound engineers and post-production editors, Jordan knew there would be a lot of travel involved to include as many of the people, places and things needed for each documentary. One recent project, for example, took him from Chicago to New York, Florida and Denver.
“My first and greatest conundrum was pricing,” he says. “I knew that in order to do this, it would be expensive, and I knew right away that the average person couldn’t afford it. I was like, ‘Jeez, I’m pricing myself right out of the market.’ But then I started looking at people in the wealth-management industry and realized there was a niche.”
Networking would prove to be just what Jordan needed to drum up interest and generate clients. He joined Chicago’s Family Office Exchange, a wealth-management clearing house, and began talking up his idea to financial institutions. One particular speaking engagement was a forum organized by Northern Trust(NTRS Quote) for 150 “ultra-high net worth families” whose wealth ranged from $80 million to $20 billion. Three commitments were secured as a result of that talk.
Each video takes at least three months to complete with upwards of six weeks for post-production. State-of-the-art equipment is used, including high-definition Panasonic(PC Quote) cameras and software by Avid(AVID Quote).
Jordan doesn’t advertise. Customers come by word-of-mouth or personal outreach. All clients are given a pledge of confidentiality.
One video was a biography of the late Elmer Wavering that was commissioned by his son-in-law.
Wavering is credited as the inventor of the car radio. He was later president of Motorola(MOT Quote), the leading maker of car radios in the 1940s, and developer of the first automotive alternator that could be mass produced. His improvements to military radios and radar systems have been praised by many historians as helping the Allies win. He also created the radio for NASA’s Lunar Rover.
The piece delves into the popular tale of how the car radio was invented in 1930 after Wavering and his friend Bill Lear were together on a double date.
The two and their girlfriends were watching the sun set along the banks of the Mississippi River. One of the ladies said it would be nice if there were music to listen to. Inspiration struck and Wavering, by tearing out the roofing in his car and using chicken wire for an antenna, was able to install a dashboard radio. Lear, for his part, went on to found the Lear Corp.(LEA Quote), a car-seating and electronics company.
Anecdotal discoveries, like that one, are part of what Jordan finds most satisfying about the videos. “I’m not out doing the fires and the murders and all the usual stuff we cover at the station,” he says. “This is just fun. It is just fascinating to talk to these people about the low points and the high points in their life, the trials and tribulations.”
By Joe Mont