Faith and Family: Gospel announcer shares with listeners
By Morgan Mizell
NATCHEZ — Jennifer Minor-Johnson, local gospel radio announcer, has always been drawn to a life on the air.
“I remember hanging around WTYJ as a kid,” Johnson said. “My brother’s godmother, Patricia Green-Murray, was an announcer there, and we just loved to watch her at work. It was so cool.”
Johnson recalls the job of a D.J. being one of the most notable of the time.
“She was so cool,” Johnson said. “She would let us come into the station sometimes and pretend to let us talk on the air, and interview us. It was a memory that has stayed with me.”
For over twenty years, Johnson has shared her life with Miss-Lou listeners, and is known as to many as, “Lady J.”
“I have been doing a gospel radio show for a long time now, but I did switch stations for a while, when I did R&B,” Johnson said. “I actually left Natchez for a while, but when my son got sick, I came home, and back to WTYJ.”
The listeners have always been a huge part of Johnson’s life.
“The interaction with the listeners is key,” Johnson said. “It goes beyond just playing music, and I can not tell you about every single call, but the listeners call in to share their lives with me. That is special.”
Johnson said she has always felt a strong connection with her audience. She has shared her life with them, including her triumphs and struggles.
“When my son Christopher was battling cancer, listeners called in to pray with and for us,” Johnson said. “At times, when I could not work, they blessed me with gifts of all kinds, including money and food. That is family.”
Johnson said the job itself carried her through the loss of her son and many other times in her life.
“I don’t know how I would have made it,” Johnson said. “I love what I do and I just love the music and the people.”
Johnson has received the Mississippi Statewide Gospel Announcers Award three times in her career; with the most recent win being last year.
“This award is won based on votes submitted by the listeners, and it is just a humbling experience,” Johnson said. “Last year’s win was the sweetest, because my husband was there to share it with me.
Johnson has a few favorite parts to her morning on the air.
“I love to do birthdays, because I make up songs and sing to the listeners in the most off-key voice I can come up with. They let me be silly and have fun, and love me anyway,” Johnson said. “Another special part of my show is the “Big Bag of Nothing.” I quote a scripture from the Bible, and the first listener who can find it and call in gets to read it on the air and I tell them they win a big old bag of nothing. I may not give them any tangible prize, but they help bless people by sharing God’s word.”
Johnson recalls several interviews she has conducted over the years with gospel and R&B artists, but she said some of the most memorable moments have been listeners who have called her to share how she has touched their lives.
“I recall two separate occasions when young women called to tell me something I have done or said has helped them,” Johnson said. “One young lady mentioned a song I played stopped her from taking her life, and another young lady told me that by sharing my testimony of being a single mother, raising four, children helped her keep going and she called to tell me her youngest had finished school. They said I helped them, but they blessed me.”
Johnson said she hopes to always be on the air.
“I love to talk, and entertain,” Johnson said. “I don’t care what else I have going on in my life, I hope to always have a life associated with radio.”
Johnson’s show can be heard, Monday – Friday from 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. on WTYJ 97.7 FM.
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