Tune your radio dial to CKWR 98.5FM every Thursday evening to listen to Culture Soup, where RJ (Randy) Johnston chats with local artists and champions of the arts about the interesting things they are up to in Waterloo Region.
First airing a year ago, RJ and then co-host Tammy Wrice, launched the show to shine a light on the often underappreciated talent in the region. “I’ve been amazed at the photographers, sculptors, actors, musicians, painters, tattoo artists, welders and arts administrators who have been incredibly forthcoming about what makes them tick,” he says. “We find that fascinating and hope our listeners do too.” Recently, local artist Jennifer Gough has joined RJ as co-host.
Culture Soup is on top of his day job as the host of CKWR’s midday show, coincidentally called Midday with RJ, which he landed by accident. CKWR is mostly run by volunteers and a few years ago he took over the time slot from someone who had hosted the show for 50 years. “I’d never done a live radio show before, nor was I remotely familiar with the studio technology,” he says. “What I did have was strong ties to the community and a willingness to make mistakes in an effort to make the show as accessible to listeners as possible. It was a steep learning curve, but it’s the best gig I’ve ever had.”
Being part of a community radio station means he works with a team of passionate volunteers who have a dedication to making the station flourish. “We’re able to deal with our listeners directly and honestly, and we’re allowed to use our best judgement about programming, which is a valuable commodity in any workplace,” he says. “And CKWR is a phenomenal platform for cultural promotion which is really important to me.”
Like lots of entertainers, RJ is a bit of man-about-town in the arts world. He is an actor, musician, writer, director, producer and auctioneer. Having been a regular guest host on Roger’s Daytime, he is often asked to host community events such as the KW Arts Awards, which is the kind of thing he loves to do. His recent focus has been his musical project, The Rando Bando, a musical comedy group for hire.
Reach out to RJ if you want to talk on air about your latest art project. He’d be happy to hear from you.
P.S. You can listen to a Midday with RJ clip from on location in New Orleans.
P.P.S. RJ’s favourite topics of conversation: language (how words are altered, adapted and interpreted) and the diversity and evolution of birds. (Yes, birds).