BEST FM RADIO PERSONALITY (2003)

Joel Johnson

In an age of cruel stunts and hysterical FM radio personalities in need of serious sedation, Joel Johnson is an oasis from the hype and madness. As host of KFAI's blues show on Thursday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., he calmly growls out details about the blues he's playing--he makes sure you listen for Ernest "Big" Crawford's bass bumping up against Muddy Waters's bottleneck guitar on the upcoming track. Johnson's not only sharing music from his own collection, he's also opening up his treasure chest of knowledge and understanding of the genre he loves and lives. (He fronts his own blues band around town.) Listening to Johnson for an afternoon is like going to the great blues dive of the imagination, where Bessie Smith rises to belt it out one more time, the beer's forever cold, and the smoke never gets in your eyes.