Just before the conversations came about that ultimately brought 95.5 The Lou midday personality Isis M. Jones back to town, she felt the universe at work.
She had come to St. Louis to visit friends. As she was walking through the airport, more than one person said, “Hey Isis Jones!” “I was like, ‘I haven’t been here in ten years,’” Jones said. “That blew my mind.”
She remembered those interactions when presented with the opportunity to return to St. Louis airwaves – to hold down the midday slot for 95.5. She had worked for the station before, way back when it was hip-hop station Q 95.5. She also worked for 100.3 The Beat and Majic 104.9.
“I’m like, ‘well, if you remember me, then there are a couple of more folks that remember me,” Jones said. “So that means I might be able to do something here.”
She’s been back on St. Louis radio since March. Jones has been laying low and quietly refamiliarizing herself with the scene until last month when she kicked off a marketing campaign formally announcing her return.
Jones loved her 11 years in Birmingham, but is thrilled about being back to the region.
“I’ve always been in love with St. Louis – from downtown to all the way out to St. Charles,” Jones said. “St. Louis was just such an instrumental time in my life. So many strongholds were broken and so many things that materialized in me and were planted in me here that helped me a lot in Birmingham.”
Her new boss is equally excited.
“She brings enthusiasm, experience, and a history of success in the market,” said Derrick “Lil D” Greene, operations manager for Radio One St. Louis. “ Her enthusiasm for the business and proven winning track record will help elevate and grow our already successful station.”
Radio personalities tend to get stereotyped as gossipy, chatty people who use the spaces in-between songs to deliver the latest celebrity scoop. Jones is an example of the counter narrative.
“What I do is based upon what’s going to benefit you as a listener, what is going to benefit the community,” Jones said. “If you need something that is informative, if you need something that is uplifting, if you need something that will get you through your workday in a good mood… That’s me all day. I’m the sunshine. Just add water.”
She uses herself as the litmus test – asking, “What do I want to hear?” when mapping out what she will present to her listeners.
“I’m on during the midday, so most of them are at work,” Jones said. “Nine times out of ten it might be background noise. But I at least want it to be constructive background noise. At the end of the day, you want more warm and fuzzy than you do the cold and petty.”
In these months she’s been back, Jones has been working on segments for her show that will shed a positive light on the people, places and things that impact her community of listeners.
One of those segments is “Your neighborhood,” where she spotlights areas within the city and county.
“It’s a play off of ‘Mister Rogers Neighborhood,’” Jones said. ‘I won’t have the puppets, but if I can find somebody though…” Jones said, interrupting herself with a laugh. “But seriously, it’s about businesses and folks that are doing things that are doing things that impact the community – and some of these organizations that are impacting the community that don’t get much shine.”
‘I am back for a purpose’
Her father was an officer in the military, so Jones spent her formative years traveling – though she spent large chunks of her childhood in Orlando and Tampa, Florida. But Missouri would have the distinction of being the place where she found her passion. Jones was in high school when her father put down roots in Jefferson City by accepting a faculty position at Lincoln University.
“When I was 16, my father walked me into the college radio station at Lincoln and I never left,” Jones said.
More than 30 years later, Jones is still at it.
“I felt like Michael Corleone at one time,” said Jones. “Every time I would try to get out, it would call me right back. Sometimes I think your calling calls you. And if you have a gift, I think you should go with it.”
And Jones knows where her gifts come from.
She started regularly using the phrase “blessed and highly favored,” after attending Shalom Church (City of Peace) during her first run on St. Louis radio.
“It was the one thing Pastor Clark would always have us saying – that still stays with me and people know me for saying it,” Jones said. “I know where my strength comes from. I don’t get this right all of the time, but I just feel like I’m covered.”
As she moves ahead with her return to St. Louis radio, Jones is eager to use her platform to elevate others.
“I want to get a really good grip on my people and let them understand the importance of their own beauty, their own intelligence and their own ability to create,” Jones said. “We don’t seem to see that in ourselves right now.”
She also came back to become a top-rated personality.
“My directive is to win,” Jones said. “Everybody has their own strength and their own beauty in what it is that they do – I can’t take that away from anybody – but I came to win. That’s just how I’m built.”
Outside of radio, Jones has an interest in urban farming as a form of revitalization and “getting as back to nature as possible.” She saw the positive impact firsthand in Birmingham and got chills about the possibility of a large scale initiative in the St. Louis region after a recent visit to Wellston.
“I believe I am back for a purpose. I’m not 100 percent sure of what all that means, but I know it will unfold itself,” Jones said. “And I know that radio has a part in it, but that’s not the whole.”
Isis Jones is on air at 95.5 The Lou FM from 9 a.m. – 2 pm. Weekdays and Saturdays from 12 noon to 3 p.m. For more information on Isis Jones, visit www.isismjones.com.