10 Questions with ... Curtiss Johnson
November 26, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started radio in 1978 in San Diego at KPRI, working for Jesse Bullet and Ernesto Gladden. In 1980 went to the now legendary Northern California Album Rock station, KZAP for nights. In 1982 I landed in Phoenix at KUPD for MD/midday duties. In '85 I became PD for a 10-year run. In 1995, Tom Schurr came calling to program KRXQ/Sacramento. During my 18 years in Sacramento I was Station Manager/PD for KRXQ, KWOD and KSEG.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
That's easy! I cherish all the time I'm able to spend with my four-year-old son, Dylan. Amy (Amy Johnson, formerly of Atlantic Records) and I waited later in our lives to have children and the time at this point in his life has been such a blessing. Waking up, having breakfast with the little guy and spending the day together has been awesome.
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
Beyond the four-year-old stuff, we've spent time at our house on Lake Superior, I've been riding the road and mountain bikes a lot, playing guitar, camping, keeping up with friends and binge watching Breaking Bad! That show is as addictive as its subject matter!
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
I do. The industry has changed profoundly since I first got in, but I still love radio. I love the music, the creativity it allows and the people you meet in and out of our industry. However if I did segue out, I would hope to find something in the non-profit world. I've sat on several boards of directors of local charities over the years. My stations have been deeply engrained and involved in the communities we serve. I've derived a tremendous amount of satisfaction from that over the years.
4) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
This is the first time in my entire 30-plus year career I've been unemployed. I know, I'm a "freak of nature!" So, I don't have a lot of experience at this. Some days I love the down time and other days my type-A personality kicks in. I get anxious to get back to what I've done all my adult life.
5) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I've made quality-of-life decisions my entire career. I've had offers over the years in many of major markets that I've chosen not to take because something about them didn't feel right. In most cases I was right. A few may have played out well in hindsight! But I don't regret any decision I've made. I've worked for with some great stations, with some amazing people. Most every day of my career I've loved going work. Quality of life is important now more than ever with a young son. So, long answer longer, sign me up as an RVP of programming, market manager or single-station brand manager. I'm looking for a good company, in a market my family can enjoy and a situation where the chemistry in the halls feels good.
6) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied?
E-mail, call backs etc. can be slow from time to time, but I completely understand. I've been on the other side of the line a long time. People are busier than they have ever been in our industry. In most of my dealings I've been treated professionally and with courtesy and respect. It helps to have been in the industry as long as I have. Most people I've talked to I know personally, or we know of each other. That helps!
7) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
I can point to a pretty long track record of market-leading ratings and revenue success. And building and maintaining some pretty iconic radio brands, and attracting, growing and keeping quality talent.
8) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
Maybe not as much time, because I'm not sitting in a radio station office every day. I am listening to more stations in various formats in markets across the nation. Consulting a few small-market stations and having been asked to do quite a few market/station strategic analysis at this point has led to quite a bit of in-depth, critical listening.
9) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
I've been fortunate; I can't point to just one. I'm pretty proud of building and keeping KUPD, KRXQ and KSEG #1 in their target ratings and revenue demos for over a decade each. Finding, growing and nurturing some top-shelf air talent, including Dave Pratt, Rob, Arnie and Dawn and many more is another.
10) What have you learned about yourself, others, or life in general in your downtime?
Most of us are so wrapped up in our jobs. We are our jobs psychologically in most cases. I was. I now appreciate so many more aspects of what life is. Family and friends, of course, but I'm also allowing myself to drink in and appreciate life's other experiences more ... appreciating the moment, if you will.
Uh oh ... now you're on your own for getting new music. Name your three most recent purchases since leaving the biz.
I'm still keeping up with most new music via the industry's digital services. But I've always bought music that was out of my formats or was on smaller independent labels where I wasn't serviced. My most recent purchases for personal pleasure have been CDs from the North Mississippi All-Stars, "World Boogie is Coming," Sheryl Crow's latest, "Feels Like Home," Tedeschi Trucks Band, "Made Up Mind" and I've pre-ordered Eric Clapton's 2013 Crossroads Festival on Blu-Ray.