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Jason Johnson: I am trying not to treat people like idiots

TNP's own movie guy Jason Johnson evolves from quiet FiRST writer to hot radio DJ, complete with ear stud and tattoo. -TNP

Fri, Jun 28, 2013
The New Paper

SINGAPORE - After just nine months, Kiss92 has gained almost 300,000 listeners to become the third most popular English language station after Gold 90FM and Class 95.

In that time, we have seen The New Paper's own movie guy Jason Johnson, 45, evolve from quiet FiRST writer to hot radio DJ, complete with ear stud, tattoo and bleached hair.

We catch up with the co-host of Kiss92's Maddy, Jason & Arnold In The Morning to find out about his job and why he recites poetry on air.

When you joined Kiss last September, did you expect the station to do so well in such a short time?

Not to sound boastful, but I really thought we'd do pretty well. The station had a great vibe from the beginning.

I look at (co-host) Maddy (Barber) as being sort of the cornerstone of the whole endeavour. I feel like it's her energy and excitement that have infused the station with a certain positivity that people pick up on, from the staff to the fans.

All the DJs also have strong and distinct personalities. For better or worse, we don't just sound like a bunch of generic pro DJs, we sound like people. Hopefully interesting people.

What's your off-air relationship with Maddy Barber and Arnold Gay like?

Arnold is a true gentleman, honestly one of the best guys I've ever met. People might think he's stiff because he's a news reader, but he has a terrific sense of humour. I wish I could be as calm as him.

Maddy and I have a fun but volatile relationship. She is honestly one of my favourite people in the world, but there are times when we lose patience with each other. Fortunately we're always quick to patch things up and get back to business. She's been a blessing.

Tell us about your quirky segments.

Ha! I'll take that as a compliment. I was actually super nervous when I started This Week In Vampires and A Moment In Poetry because I thought everyone would think I'm nuts.

I mean, when have you heard someone reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan on a morning radio show?

Surprisingly, everyone's been very accepting.

What I'm really trying to do is not treat people as idiots. There are far too many media outlets around the world that treat people like sub-human morons, and I didn't want Kiss to be one of them. I was, like, it won't kill people to hear some poetry.

As for the vampire stuff, I just thought it would be nice to add a certain mystery and romance to the morning. To me it stands out and there are certain listeners who appreciate it.

What are some of the most embarrassing flubs you've made on air?

One day I forgot Chuck Norris' name and about 30 Kiss fans sent in SMSes to remind me. I felt like such an idiot.

On Tuesday, I said that Indonesia has a prime minister instead of a president, but that doesn't bother me. Arnold is supposed to be the smart one, not me.

Have there been any times you've almost gone crazy juggling your current strange sleep schedule, your writing for FiRST and the radio show, all while raising two adorable sons with your wife?

Just before we went for our three-week holiday in June, I had a complete breakdown. I couldn't function at all for a couple of days. It was very alarming, obviously.

But I feel like the luckiest guy in the world getting to do two jobs that I absolutely love, and most of the time it works out very well. I might have to make some tweaks to the schedule, but so far it's actually worked out better than expected.

We know you're a 30 Seconds To Mars and Tenacious D fan. Have you got used to the music you play on the job?

The short answer is "yes!". In all honesty, the music I listen to on my own tends to be weird and/or dark, so it's not very conducive to being peppy - and peppiness is a must for a DJ.

Listening to the Kiss music in the morning perks me up and helps me do my job properly. It makes me happy.

When the station first started you said in an interview that you're almost half-woman anyway. What percentage of woman are you now?

I think I'm still half a woman. Almost all of my friends are women. I'm still a Twilight fan. I just got my hair dyed blonde. Maddy is probably more man than I am. She'd take that as a compliment, I'm sure.


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