10 Questions with ... Jon Justice
February 17, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KCXX (X103.9)/Riverside-San Bernardino (as part of Dick and Justice)
- KFMA/Tucson (with John Michael)
- WKLS (96 Rock)/Atlanta
- WMAX (Real Radio)/Atlanta
- WKLQ/Grand Rapids
- WOOD-A/Grand Rapids
1. Okay, since we last talked several years ago, you've continued to make yourself pretty entrenched in Tucson, you've weathered a health scare, you've won some awards... what over the past 5 years has been the most momentous thing in your life?
Apart from being blessed to continue to have a career doing what I love, I would say growing as a father. My sons are now 8 and 12 (acting like he's 15) and it's been amazing watching them come into their own. There have been little radio victories here and there, but nothing compares to watching my sons get older.
2. You've undoubtedly heard all the hand-wringing about talk radio and how the format's encountered troubles in various ways, from ratings and revenue to pressure from social media, yet you seem to remain strong. Do you perceive any downturn or any difference at all in how talk radio is doing, purely from your local, single-show perspective? How IS talk doing?
Sadly I believe that most of perceived issues or "problems" with the talk radio have been self inflicted. Fear seems to be driving a lot of the decision making. Concerns about revenue and ratings are real, but instead of focusing on the content and I mean ALL the content, too many people get focused on everything beyond their control. Streaming audio, the market competition, podcasting etc... stations and talent have no control over the externals.
We need to get back to creating great radio again, taking risks, being authentic, honest and bold. The listener wants to be entertained, so instead of telling talent how they should sound or how not to be, tell them what they do that sounds great and then tell them to do more of that. I've been really blessed that I haven't personally had to deal with being micromanaged, but I know a lot of hosts are and in my opinion it kills the creative spirit. Lastly, we have to stop apologizing for being talk stations/shows. We are amazing, relevant, fresh content generators with loyal listeners, we should be promoting and selling talk radio that way. Talk radio isn't dead, but there sure are a lot people in radio trying to kill it. With all that being said, I believe we have seen the worst of any bottoming out and that it has begun to come back. Hopefully the talk format will be even stronger; these things are cyclical.
3. Speaking of social media, how do you use Facebook and/or Twitter in conjunction with your show? Do you see it as a promotional tool, a way to engage listeners, or something else?
It's promotional, absolutely, but It only works if you engage back. I work really hard to keep it personal too. I'll post stories from my show across the station FB, my show and personal FB pages, along with Twitter. But I also use the social media just like everyone else does. I find it's kind of balancing act between the show and my personal life. I like to think that it works best that way.
4. You moved to the 8:30-noon slot last year from mornings -- besides not having to get up as early, has the later shift -- and competing head-to-head with Rush Limbaugh -- changed anything about the show or what you do? Or is it the same show at a later time?
As of the beginning of the year I'm actually now back to doing a 4 hour show 8-Noon. I really like the 4 hours too as I can cover a lot more material. I don't think of the show based on the hours I'm on, it's all about the content and show flow. I can't do anything about what Rush does, so I just do what I do. If anything the show may change just because my interests constantly change. Its a still a "conservative" show and it still has local and national politics, but I am also doing more pop culture, more lifestyle issues etc.. the show ultimately is a reflection of who I am and I hope by extension who the listener is. I beat Rush in the key demo last book, so that's kind of cool.
5. Last time, I asked you about your outlook on national politics for the 2010 and 2012 elections. We're now heading towards 2016 -- what's your prediction for the presidential race, keeping in mind that it's still ridiculously early and the issues and candidates can change at any time? What do you think the key issues will be?
At this point the key issues will be based on when you post this and the readers read it, as those issues seem to be changing that quickly. One big one will probably be foreign affairs, I don't see that going away anytime soon, along with the economy. Being a talk host obviously free speech and the media, but that probably won't be dominating any campaign speeches. As for the presidential race, I have no clue. The field is huge right now. The person whose name pops up the most is Scott Walker. Currently I am honestly more interested in the next trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: then potential nominees. Hey, that's not a bad set: "What are you more interested in right now than the potential GOP candidates?"
6. You used to be on music stations and we just had the Grammys, so here are some music questions: Favorite band ever? Favorite current band? Band you'd go out of your way to hear live?
Favorite band ever: Depeche Mode. At last count I have seen them 32 times live, which has to be some kind of record, right? I found Chvrches about a year ago and listened to their debut constantly. But, if I am being honest, the new Taylor Swift 1989 is really solid and in steady rotation on the drive into work. Band I'd see live, probably Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto is a creative machine and that's cool to me.
7. And while we're on frivolous non-news topics, what qualifies as can't-miss TV for you these days? What are your favorite shows?
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." I was WAY late to the party on that show and I love the risks they take just to get a laugh. It's like watching "Seinfeld" as if it were directed by Quentin Tarantino. "The Soup" is still a constant watch as is the new "Star Wars Rebels." Also with "Friends" on Netflix, I have been re-watching all of those with Melinda; that show still cracks me up.
8. We've talked about Plan B, what you think you would have done if you hadn't gone into radio. But since you DO talk politics... has it ever crossed your mind to run for office? If so, can you see it ever happening? If not, why not?
Sure, running for office has crossed my mind, and then I told it to keep walking. I love interviewing candidates when they run for the first time and watching how much they change over the years. It's a pretty amazing transformation -- sometimes it's good, a lot of times it's bad. But no, I never had a real interest to run for office. I have no clue what I would have done if not for radio. I do know that if I wasn't doing talk radio I wouldn't mind doing opinion, commentary for NASCAR, just because how of much I follow and love the sport.
9. What makes you laugh?
Hearing my 8 yr old Kyle say things like "I know a lot about Legos, despite my young age". Spontaneous moments on the show, taking a leap on joke or comment during the show, it could fail or totally hit the mark, as long as it's funny. The Free Beer and Hot Wings show too -- those guys do great radio.
10. Last time, I asked about the best and worst advice you'd gotten. How about turning the tables -- what advice would you give someone looking to get into the talk radio game right now? How would you suggest they go about it, or would you tell them to try another business?
I would never tell them to try another business. I would tell them to keep their expectations and personal time tables in check. Have goals, but don't let them weigh you down. Go find a local talk show you like, find a way to get involved in the station and start learning everything you can. And while your at it, start a podcast, find your voice. If its meant to be you will find your way. Oh, also laugh at the host's jokes and tilt your head while nodding up and down when they make a point, even if you don't agree -- I hear they love that.