Interview: Joshua Johnson

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Describe a typical workday.
I get here at 5am and prep for the first newscast, which is at 6:04. I do eight newscasts a day between 6:04 and 10:04 before handing off to Stephanie Martin Taylor, our midday anchor. Then I'll jump in if an extra set of hands is needed to cover the news of the day. There's a lot going on in the newsroom right now and I'm trying to have a hand in a variety of things.

How are you deciding what goes in the newscasts?
I go through the local papers, various newswires, Twitter, Facebook, and even Variety magazine, to get a sense of both the news and what people are talking about.

What's something you like about your job?
The people. They're very bright and easy to work with. We have a clear sense of our mission, and we laugh every single day.

Being as ambitious as we want to be given our resources. It's a good challenge to have, though. Some news organizations are treading water or waiting for the next round of layoffs. Some are pitted in competition with each other for crumbs, for one-hundredth of a ratings point. Because we don't have the commercial imperatives of other organizations, it frees us up to think about the notes we're not hitting.

We're on the cusp of leaping in to a lot of new projects. For that reason, it's good when people are in touch with us. Telling us what we should and shouldn't cover. If you want to be heard, now is the time. If you're someone we can talk to for a specific story or with a certain expertise or life experience, we want to hear from you. We are very serious about growing the way we cover the Bay Area.


You don't have to know somebody who knows somebody; we really are listening. We look at our social media presence very assiduously. If you Tweet us, or post to our Facebook pages or post something on Instagram and tag KQED, we pay attention.

What new projects are on the horizon?
We just had a meeting about how to cover the changing face of this, for lack of a better term, boomtown. What are some of the questions we want to answer? How do we do it with the resources we have? It's a big story that we can't ignore, but we don't want to just present a string of pieces that never links together. We want to be more authoritative than that.

We're also working on new podcasting projects as well as expanding our core coverage with more reporters, producers, and editors.

Any recent stories you've particularly enjoyed?
I moderated the San Jose's mayor's debate. That was fun.

Had you ever moderated one before?
I moderated a mayoral debate in Miami when I was at WLRN. But this was a larger event, broadcast on air. We got the candidates to stay to time, which was amazing. According to one candidate, we put the fear of God in them early on!

On a lighter note, any guilty pleasures?
I'm in San Francisco; there are only pleasures, no guilt! Honestly, there are so many people here, from far-flung parts of the world, with such vastly different experiences. There's room for all kinds of interests and hobbies and obsessions. For a journalist, it makes it easy to cover a lot of topics; you just need to find people who are passionate about one thing or another. If you approach them honestly, they'll talk to you honestly.

OK, with no guilt, is there a podcast or TV show you enjoy?
I've been digging the PBS Arts Fall Festival. "The Nance" was awesome. "Sweeney Todd" was amazing. I've got "Porgy and Bess" on my TiVo.

I also like a podcast called "Welcome to Night Vale." It's a very dark, surrealistic comedy. It's set in a community radio station in a little town called Night Vale out in the desert that's run by an evil corporation. Everyone is trying to smile through gritted teeth to not let on how evil the place is. It's very sharp. Someone is going to pick that show up and turn into a movie or a TV show!