With heavy hearts, Cincinnati Public Radio mourns the passing of our friend and colleague Frank Johnson. The staff and listeners of WGUC and WVXU, as well as the Greater Cincinnati radio and music community – and science fiction fans everywhere - have lost a dear friend.If you would like to share your memories of Frank, please visit this page.
Place of Birth:
Cincinnati, I grew up mostly in North Avondale.
How long at WGUC?
Since 1998, all of that time on the All Things Considered news shift.
Why do you like working at WGUC?
It's great to work for an appreciative and loyal audience.
First radio job:
WTUE in Dayton back in 1975. It was a commercial AOR station, that means "album oriented rock." I was there for 2 1/2 years before I went to work for WEBN where I met Brian O'Donnell in 1978.
Favorite classical composer/works:
Rachmaninoff's piano concertos, Paganini's Rhapsody.
Other than classical, favorite music and why?
Jazz is my soul music. I especially like jazz piano. Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Oscar Peterson are jazz masters. I worked for a time for a "smooth jazz" station, but I relate best to the real thing.
I like to read, watch movies and compute. I also like to travel. I’ve been lucky enough to get to Europe once or twice a year for a while now. It’s good to see things you can’t see in Cincinnati – really, really old stuff, very differently put together cities, and tiny picture postcard villages. And I’ve become a semi-regular in classical music shops in three countries now (England, Belgium and the Netherlands).
In grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a graphic artist.
How were you introduced to classical music?
Back in the old days, when they still taught music in school. Also, from time to time, the CSO would come around to the public schools and do special programsthey still do these programs today. I really enjoyed that as a kid.
Any fun anecdotes about life at 90.9?
I always get a kick when this happens: Sometimes, I'll play a piece of music (usually this happens with piano or guitar arrangements), by a contemporary, not specifically a traditional classical artist, and the phone will ring or an email will come with, "Was that Steve Howe from Yes? or "Is that THE Steve Hackett from the rock group Genesis!?" It astounds people sometimes to hear that pop and rock artists are making classical music today. There is a beautiful Baroque piece done by Phil Pickett who composed an 80s Culture Club hit. I love it when our listeners recognize these secrets and tell me about it. I am reminded that they are paying attention.
What question are you always asked when you meet listeners?
Often people ask me about John Birge. He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio a few years ago.