10 Questions with ... KJ Carson "Ken Johnson"
September 1, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WJMH, WQMG, WPEG, WILD/Boston, KPRS, KMXV, WWWQ, WITH, XM 20 on 20.
1) So you have kind of been on the beach, but you also have worked. Could you explain how that worked?
I have been able to provide content to broadcasters who are looking for quality programming. In 2008 (while at XM), I read Tim Ferris' "4-Hour Work Week." It encouraged me to treat myself as a business and to offer my services in multiple ways. I created The KJ Show and developed a team (Mena Diaz, DJ Mano) that could work together without being in the same room. The KJ Show has allowed me to stay fresh and develop an archive that can be monetized as additional digital content for a company down the road. I use the same approach regarding Carsonomics, ranging from demographic research and proposal writing for capital ventures to indie artist consulting. In terms of employment, I have received more working as a contractor than from some places I worked full time. The "4-Hour Work Week" talks about what you really make based on your time spent on the task.
2) How did you view your career during this time?
At first, I wanted to shout, "NOTICE ME," mainly out of some frustration. When I started to evolve from that, I realized there was a need to grow out of my old thinking. I'm thankful that I went through some rough times earlier in my career, so that I had a road map for the rest of my life.
3) How do you see the future of radio?
Radio is going nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Nowhere in the sense that "over the air" isn't just going to disappear. The FCC has already allotted the bandwidth to be used, so the government won't to shut that down. Over-the-air stations (in some formats) face content challenges. Some formats grow talent better than others. As for going everywhere, that's happening with mobile. The key with mobile (and I've seen this first hand) is that you have to have a great product by people who've effectively done it, strong integrated social media, AND real events.
4) What are your thoughts on Apple Radio?
If they go after talented programmers and pay them well, it could be a game changer. If things stay as they are, they will spend a lot of money NOT connecting to the people they are trying to reach. It's like having a bad pro football team and a lot of money! (Washington Redskins)
5) Who were some of your favorite air personalities when growing up?
Howard Stern appealed to my sophomoric mind. Ken "Spider" Webb made it sound like the sun was out every day. Scott Shannon was the king of controlled chaos. Wendy Williams (middays at WRKS) was the coolest around the way girl.
6) When you talk about quality in terrestrial radio, are you talking about sound?
Nope. I'm talking content. I got a chance to work with and study Bert Weiss when I was in Atlanta. I learned that the best thing next to your favorite song is REAL life, not just information. Information is important, but your personality laid onto that information is what sets the great ones apart.
7) What is your approach to working on the air?
#AllBreaksMatter (too soon? LOL) or ... leave the listener thinking they personally know you and that you understand them.
8) What new challenges are you anticipating?
There will be a floodgate demand for seasoned, affordable talent. Could someone potentially provide great interactive content WITHOUT physically being there? That's what we've been developing over the last five to seven years.
9) How did you become who you are, tell us the people who have influenced your career?
I am who I am because I don't quit. I believe that anything you desire will be yours if you visualize and believe. My influences: The Madd Hatter, The Bushman, Elroy Smith, Andre Carson, Tony Gray, Jay Dixon, Skip Dillard, Ken Dowe, Jack Armstrong (RIP), Jon Zellner, Dylan Sprague, Bert Weiss, Jeff Kapugi, Michelle Boros and Brian Douglas
10) Would you share your thoughts on Hip-Hop and its effects on lifestyle and society as a whole?
To me, Hip-Hop isn't truly successful without the R&B. When you separate the two (especially in the classic format), you don't really address the entire genre. I didn't think Goddie Mob's "People Don't Dance No More" would become prophetic. Hip-Hop was designed to rock the party (be it in the street or in front of your mirror) and get guys and girls dancing. That part has changed a little. As for society, some use it as an excuse for negative attitudes towards youth; others have used it to become self-sufficient in ways that the corporate world would not have provided.
Is there a question you would like to be asked that no one has ever asked?
Why is the on-air approach different at Top 40 than it is at Urban?
What is the best part of your life these days?
Having my daughters (19 and 4) next to me seeing them go at it like a tamed version of a VH1 reality show never gets old! (LOL); offering my full range of services to those who request them; reading books that would have never crossed my mind 15 years ago; Screenwriting. Netflix and Chill...
Anything funny ever happen to you in this business?
Best joke EVER played on me happened when my alma mater was going up against the promotions directors alma mater. I'm talking mad s#*! about how bad their school was on the air. Day of the game, promo director asks me to drive the second station van. It's my younger years, so I brought one of my college housemates along. As we're approaching the event, I get pulled over by a cop in the station van! (At this point I'm thinking about ALL the things occurring in the back AND a non-employee is in here!). He asks me to step out and tells me that I'm under arrest. When I ask "For what?" he points to the other station van driven by the promo guy across the street. The cop says "HE put me up to this ... we went to school together!" They're laughing, and I had just finished sh*$ing on myself.