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Jerry Wells with Aircheck book

Source: Jerry Wells / Jerry Wells

Ever wonder what it’s like to be on the radio; a DJ or radio personality? Does it seem like it would be fun, glamourous, exciting, etc? Here’s your chance to find out from a brother who did it; no LIVED IT for many years at a series of midwestern and west coast radio stations. The book is called “Aircheck – Life in Music Radio” and it’s by well known radio personality, J.J. Johnson.

J.J. was a disc jockey and program director and lived that life at stations in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, starting before his 20th birthday, while he was still in high school! He takes the reader inside the studios, the famous (and infamous) parties; you’ll meet the celebrities and experience the backstage, behind-the-scenes life that many never get to see. As a radio announcer / DJ / voiceover talent for nearly my entire career, I can certify that everything he says is authentic! He was there, backstage on the mic (microphone in industry talk) at “Motown 25,” the TV special that immortalized Michael Jackson; on the air trying to calm things down when the Los Angeles riots broke out and more! It’s all here! You’ll learn how and why stations compete for listeners and meet some of the colorful characters who made music radio what it is. As a radio personality in LA, he also experienced the Hollywood lifestyle and worked off and on in the TV and movie industries, unlike most radio people in other markets.

There’s not much about his personal life, once he gets past his childhood in Cleveland Ohio, where he first broke into radio on a dare, but there is a wealth of information about how radio worked in the pre deregulation days, before the corporations took over. Local program directors chose the songs, created the station’s sound, hired and fired the DJ’s and made all the day to day decisions, unlike the way things are done, for the most part, today.

“Aircheck” also contains lots of photos of the author with many stars you’ll recognize from music, TV and movies. Also included is a useful glossary of industry terms, like “segue,” “cueing up,” TSL (Time Spent Listening), and more! What is an “aircheck,” anyway? J.J. explains it all and more. It’s the real deal, factual, with insight and humor. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like, read “Aircheck.” You won’t listen to the radio the same way again!

by Jerry Wells

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