Electrifying Mojo, the [Johnson, Charles]
- Denise M.M. Dalphond
(b Little Rock, AR). American DJ. In southeastern Michigan in the 1970s and 80s, he pioneered an eclectic musical selection and an experimental, theatrical style on black radio. He began his radio show on an AM station in Ann Arbor in the mid-1970s, and in 1977 moved his program to WGPR in Detroit. He played Parliament, the B-52s, Kraftwerk, Beethoven, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and entire albums by Prince. He was also the first radio DJ to play music by the Detroit techno producers Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson. Mojo refused to follow pre-established radio formats or playlists, and he promoted social and cultural awareness of the African American community. One segment of his radio program was called the Midnight Funk Association (MFA) and began with Mojo announcing the landing of “the mothership.” He would request that listeners flash their porch lights if they were listening at home, honk their car horns if they were driving, and dance on their backs if they were in bed. Mojo’s eclectic and innovative approach to sharing music on the radio inspired others to take their turn. The DJ and producer Jeff Mills began appearing as the Wizard on Mojo’s MFA program in the early 1980s and later hosted his own radio shows. The Wizard’s radio programs became legendary for extremely fast mixing, beat juggling, and scratching, and inspired a similar style of DJing in Detroit. May, Alan Oldham, Claude Young, Dan Bell, and Liz Copeland continued the tradition of hosting radio programs that shared electronic music with local listeners for decades....