EDITORIAL: Charleston's Rick Johnson's Career as Long as AM Radio Waves

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  Charleston's Rick Johnson's Career as Long as AM Radio Waves

A wise man from Huntington once said of politicians and broadcasters that "some are like long-distance runners, while others are sprinters."  When you consider a number of professions and trades, perhaps one where you work, you probably know some of each, too.  The sprinters are excellent for the 100 yard dash.  Their speed is amazing, as long as they don't trip out of the starting gate.

The long-distance runner has many more considerations.  Such Marathon men and women have to conserve their strength, not just for the day, but for the whole race.  They don't have to win each day.  Their aim is for the big prize at the end, whatever that might be.  While the sprinter might complain about a given day's heat or thunderstorm, the long-distance runner takes it in stride, has learned to smile even in the rain, acting like it's as natural as breathing.

Today, we salute Rick Johnson, a true long-distance runner and longtime radio announcer at West Virginia Radio's cluster of stations, both FM and AM, in Charleston.  While we are mindful of Huntington's own long-distance radio man in Tom Roten at Clear Channel's News Talk 800 & 1600 WVHU, we celebrated his ten year anniversary on the air not long ago and were proud to do so.  But today it is Johnson, whose show wafts in on occasion from down the road on I-64, who deserves recognition.

Johnson is a Kanawha County native who got the radio bug early in high school and never looked back.  Recently celebrating 40 years in the radio business, Johnson's dulcet tones have become easily recognized to two generations of FM listeners, due to his work on country and adult contemporary stations, like West Virginia Radio's V-100.   As a program director as well as an announcer, Johnson had to figure out the right mix for the Greater Charleston audience, keeping hip to the scene.

His presence in the community has always been well-received, as he always seemed to take the job seriously, wearing a professional look as opposed to that of some of his junior compadres.  Rick Johnson may be properly regarded as the Tom Landry of the Charleston radio scene, giving a crazy business a bit of dignity, a dash of elan.   Johnson makes the job look easy, but it's only because of his preparation beforehand.

In recent years, he has been thrown into the blender of AM talk radio.  This is about as far removed from the genteel world of FM radio as one can get.  FM radio makes lots of money.  AM talk radio takes what's left.   FM is completely non-controversial.  AM talk radio may lead people to approach you and your wife at dinner in a local restaurant, wanting to yammer away some more.

Johnson has shown that he can rub his head and pat his belly when it comes to doing both FM and AM radio.  He does both now at V-100 and WCHS Radio.  This Friday, this consummate radio professional will welcome back to the airwaves his old partner, Michael Agnello, whose life has not been as calm as Johnson's has been.  Agnello and Johnson are about the same age, but Agnello has perhaps put a few more miles on his tires, especially last year when his off-air problems led him to being removed from "58 Live," the afternoon WCHS show he and Johnson will share again.

While many may speculate as to what Agnello will be like this time around, one thing is as rock solid as Gibraltar:  Rick Johnson will show up for work, and he will ease everyone, including Agnello, into the warm waters of broadcasting all over again.

West Virginia Radio is lucky to have Charleston's trusty captain of the airwaves, Rick Johnson, to guide this latest version of "58 Live" safely to shore.  Now, if he could just buy a subscription to National Review or the Weekly Standard....



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