The Glitz and the Glamour

PCH alum is a notable Senior West Coast editor of Glamour magazine


Photo courtesy of Jessica Radloff.

Radloff at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Dallas, Texas in 2015.

By Emma Li, Parkway Central High School

Flashing cameras, late night events, names in lights. A career living on the coast surrounded by some of the biggest stars in contemporary media – publicist, influencer, makeup artist even?

Jessica Radloff, senior west coast editor of Glamour magazine lives in Los Angeles, and her job involves meeting and talking with celebrities: she was recently pleasantly surprised for the opportunity to speak with Cher. Yes, that Cher. Radloff also happened to graduate from Parkway Central in 1997. A St. Louis native with a passion for sports and entertainment, Radloff was studious to a tee and began writing at the encouragement of her English and Yearbook teacher Lou Jobst.

“He was probably the most influential teacher I had at Parkway,” Radloff said. “In just letting me understand that I could actually write well, and can go into journalism and be a really good writer. Even if I was bored by certain parts of the curriculum, he really allowed me the chance to understand that English and journalism and writing is so much more than often what we’re taught. And that was a really eye opening experience in time for me back then.”

As a shy kid, Radloff found it difficult to get along with other students, but rather threw herself into studies.

Radloff writing at a desk in the early 90s. Photo by Barb Radloff.

“I’d come home from school, and I would do homework until dinner, and then go back and do homework and then go to bed,” Radloff said. “It’s not a great way to spend your high school years, but there was just always so much to be done.”

That dedication to studies was worth less in social currency than it does now, and Radloff experienced social ostracization because of this.

“I was just the type of kid that didn’t quite fit in with my peers,” Radloff said. “I was bullied a lot, I was teased a lot. At the same time, I also think that going through that like I did has allowed me to have the career that I have, and it’s made me good at what I do. Because I truly have such empathy for people and things that they go through in life. I know how to just stay in the game when things get really hard. And a lot of that I attribute to being in high school and just feeling like, you know, nobody likes me, I’m never going to get anywhere. When things get hard and you don’t feel like you belong and people aren’t accepting you, you really have to just keep going and putting one foot in front of the other and I think it’s been the main reason why I’ve survived and done as well as I have in my chosen profession.”

Radloff then went to the University of Arizona to major in media arts, with minors in journalism and theatre arts. Media arts was a multimedia track that introduced students to digital media near the beginning of its advent. For Radloff, the college experience was cut short due to her accumulation of AP credits. After doing several internships at TV stations, entertainment shows and talent agencies, Radloff graduated after just over two years.

“It didn’t allow me a lot of time to figure out what I was going to do and take my time to look at all the different options because I already came in as a sophomore standing,” Radloff said. “Then, I just started doing internship after internship, not realizing that really did put me on the fast track to graduating early. It really was like getting a Fastpass at Disneyland. You want that at Disneyland; I don’t know if you want that as much in college.”

Although the internet has continued to change at the speed of light, Radloff accredits the most use in her career now to her education in journalism.

“I really learned the basics of reporting, of writing, of journalism,” Radloff said. “That never goes out of style; that always will stay the same. But the media aspect of it, I mean, it’s, it’s totally changed. We didn’t even have Facebook, then or MySpace, or, you know, we didn’t have smartphones, even, so think about how, how different of a time that was. Now I sound really old.”

In the beginning of a career defined by change, Radloff was at a loss as to what to do.

“It scared me to death because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Radloff said. “Everything was so scary.”

Paralyzed by fear after getting off the roller coasters, Fastpass still in hand, Radloff began writing for small outlets in LA. Other publications include AOL, The Huffington Post and Modern Luxury Media. Radloff had always wanted to write for Glamour magazine – it was the first magazine she had ever subscribed to, but most of the publishing industry is based in New York, not LA.

In the summer of 2011, Radloff was home in St. Louis and was speaking to a client of her father whose wife’s mother was in an issue of Glamour on the counter, and whose niece was an editor at Glamour. Through this connection, Radloff was able to get a conversation and eventually a job.

“It wouldn’t have happened at any point any month or years earlier, because I had to get that experience, and I had to be ready for it,” Radloff said. “And I think that’s so important. That’s why timing is really everything.”

A series of selfies of Radloff with Taylor Swift in February 2015. Photos by Taylor Swift.

Writing for a magazine as big as Glamour comes with the pressure to prove one indispensable.

“I wasn’t the smartest, I wasn’t the best writer, wasn’t the best interviewer at the time,” Radloff said. “But I hustled. I was determined. What can I do in order to help the people that I want to work for and to get the job done? And if anything, I’m always thinking 10 steps ahead. And I’m always, you know, thinking in my head, like, okay, how can this work? How can we make it better? How can I get to this person in order to get that interview or, or whatever the case may be. And it’s that scrappiness and it’s that hustle that allowed me to then learn the tools I needed to get really good at this profession. Another good lesson I learned is you’re never going to be perfect. You know, no matter how much we want to be perfect at something, it’s never going to be, so you just have to do the best you can at the time with the tools that you have.”

As with most lessons, these came with a price.

“I pushed myself too hard early in my career at Glamour to the point I will never forget,” Radloff said. “It was Oscar weekend, and I was going to all of these events. There was like the Independent Spirit Awards. And then there’s like a Women in Film luncheon and then there’s something else. And then when I would come home from each event, I would then transcribe it all and then I would write it up. And then I wouldn’t go to bed until three in the morning, and then have to be up at 7 a.m.”

“There was a point one year where I had been up covering an Oscar event until three in the morning, and I had to be up at seven for the Independent Spirit Awards,” Radloff said. “And I remember driving home from the Independent Spirit Awards and starting to doze off in the car. I’m so glad I was coherent enough to pull over on the side of the road and take a 20 minute nap until I felt it was safe enough for me to drive home. But that was a really eye opening thing where I realized I cannot keep up with this schedule. This is not okay. This was my very early years of Glamour and you know, part of it was me trying to do everything and prove myself and be at every place at every possible time. But I remember pulling over on the side of the road because I was starting to fall asleep at the wheel. And I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ So, you know, I will never do that again, because I will be the first to tell you how important sleep is.”

In dealing with burnout, a schedule as packed as a reporter’s often cannot make for three month vacations. However, there are small ways to keep the balance.

“It’s important to take care of yourself as much as possible throughout because this industry will keep going, and you’re still going to be in it,” Radloff said. “So it’s taking naps when you can, it is saying no to plans. It’s really kind of putting yourself first and doing what you need to do in order to feel healthy. Because especially when you want to prove yourself early on, it’s hard to say no to things. And it’s easy, at least for me to, to want to be at everything in order to show, you know that I’m indispensable and I can do this, but you know, it’s going to catch up with you. So that’s what, that’s what I learned is that you really have to take care of yourself. And you always hear that line, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ No. Forget it, you’ve got to sleep now. It is so important. Plus, it makes you look better.”

In her downtime, Radloff enjoys reading as an essential part of remaining in the ever changing industry.

“I read as much as I can, again, not usually books, but newspapers and websites that are all about the industry,” Radloff said. “I love reading CNN’s reliable sources, I love reading the New York Times, the LA Times and I still subscribe to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and I read that online. And so I love reading about the state of the media and how it’s evolved and how it’s changing, and I think that’s so important.”

On top of writing for Glamour, Radloff spent a large part of the pandemic writing what would become a 500 page book that hit the New York Times bestseller list within a week of publication in October 2022. “The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series” is filled with new interviews from those who helped make the show such as actors, producers and writers, along with personal photos from those same people. With 20 hours of interview material from Jim Parsons who played Sheldon Cooper, Kaley Cuoco’s personal photos and St. Louis material, the book is home to Radloff.

Radloff carrying stacks of the Big Bang Theory book with Melissa Rauch who played Bernadette in the show. Photo by Britney Young in September 2022.

“When it hit the New York Times bestseller list, it was one of the coolest moments I will ever have in my life,” Radloff said. “Not just my career but my life. I will never forget getting that call from my publisher and my agent that I had made it and then calling Chuck Lorre who is the co creator and executive producer and kind of crying to him over ‘we did it, we did it, the book is on the New York Times bestseller list.’”

While many parts of the entertainment industry stalled during the pandemic, news did not. The book has already been published in Brazil and Australia, and will be published in Germany, Croatia, and Poland.

“It was so cool because it was two years of non-stop working 24/7 on top of my job at Glamour to get this book done,” Radloff said. “It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, but also one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done. And what’s so funny, and what I joke about is that I have three learning disabilities, one of which is dyslexia. And I wasn’t diagnosed until I was a junior in high school at Parkway Central.”

In addition to a form of dyslexia that requires extra time to process for reading comprehension, Radloff has dyscalculia, a math learning disability, and listening comprehension.

“If anything, I think it makes me a better journalist,” Radloff said. “It makes me a better human, it makes me more conscientious and aware of the work that I’m doing because I work so hard to make sure everything I do is as perfect as it can be.”

Now, interviewing and speaking with people is one of the best parts of Radloff’s job.

“I love interacting with actors and producers and writers, it’s the most fun for me, especially because I prepare and I research like crazy before an interview,” Radloff said. “And when I go into the interview, I just want to have fun. I love the interviewing process and getting to know who people are, maybe in a way that they haven’t been able to get across or express otherwise.”

This story was originally published on Corral on April 12, 2023.