TIR 75: J.J. Johnson Tells How KDAY Became the Vanguard of Black Radio in L.A.


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 75 (2 Parts): An icon of funk, soul and hip-hop radio, on-air personality extraordinaire J.J. Johnson. First taking to the airwaves as a teenager in January 1968 at WABQ Cleveland, he then moved to KYOK Houston the following year. In 1971, Johnson was hired at WGRT/Chicago and later that year moved to San Francisco for a position with KFRC. After being promoted to program director at KFRC in 1973, in 1974 he was then hired by 1580 KDAY in Los Angeles. It was there with L.A.’s most prominent and progressive R&B/black/urban radio that he really built his legend, spending the better part of 17 years with the station.

For some two decades, KDAY’s ear-to-the-street music rotation defined Southern California R&B, funk and rap sensibilities, and its character and assortment of characters reflected the community and its mindset. In the 1970s, if you were within its signal footprint and were into funk, you kept your dial glued to 1580, and same goes for the 1980s if rap was your thing. Jackson also worked at other leading L.A. area stations, including KMPC, KJLH and KACE. His extensive credits as an announcer also include the radio special “The Music of Black America,” the “Budweiser Concert Hour,” 30 years with Motown including the Emmy-winning “Motown 25,” he was the segment announcer for “Real TV with Ahmad Rashad” and appeared as a ringside sports announcer in the movie “Penitentiary III.”

During his illustrious career, Johnson has had the pleasure of meeting various celebrities and icons in entertainment, for instance Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Marilyn McCoo, Albert King; Kool & the Gang; George Clinton; Patti LaBelle, Al Green; Al Jarreau; Babyface; the Jackson 5 and dozens more. In 2017, his book, Aircheck: Life in Music Radio, was made a part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s permanent library and archives collection.

TRUTH IN RHYTHM speaks to Johnson about his rise within the radio industry, how the business has changed over time, his remarkable run at the equally remarkable KDAY, memories forever etched into his mind and what’s next for him. Keep that dial where it is for a fantastic journey through the 1960s, 70s, 80s and beyond — when radio ruled the music world — courtesy of the great J.J. Johnson.

Recorded December 2018


Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.