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09. Who is "The Electrifying Mojo?<< prevnext >>

Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, "The Electrifying Mojo," a.k.a. Charles Johnson, was an eclectic and influential Detroit radio DJ during the '80s and '90s.

DJs playing in clubs and at private parties around Detroit had some great playlists and spun music more closely associated with what we know think of as techno (e.g. Italo-disco), but Mojo is a part of our consciousness -- thousands of kids literally grew up listening to his show. Put more succinctly, Mojo may not have influenced the development of techno as a form of music per se, but he did help prime a generation of listeners for unusual sounds.

Mojo played a wide range of music, especially considering the increased pressure to stick to the "format" of Detroit's urban contemporary stations. Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Visage, J. Geils Band, Cybotron, film scores and even classical music have found their way into his playlists. This tenacious eclecticism is why he moved from station to station (six in total) and at one point even dished up music on the toll-based telephone number 1-976-MOJO.

In 1998 he began webcasting his show on WCHB (105.9), accessible at the time at www.electrifyingmojo.com. The site generated sizable traffic and pulled in listeners from all over the globe, but it came down soon after Mojo left WCHB later that year.

For the moment, Mojo has put radio to the side in order to focus on writing and, as he says, "observing." In 1995, Mojo published a 539-page opus, The Mental Machine, a compilation of poems and essays, self-published on his J-Stone Audio Books imprint. There is a book slated for a 2000 release about former Detroit mayor Coleman A. Young entitled "Coleman A. Young The People's Mayor," and one called "Great Black Classical Composers" that is still a work in progress.

Some highlights and interesting facts:
  • Had the B-52's on the air for an interview and an impromptu, off-tempo rendition of "Mesopotamia."
  • Was visited at WGPR by The J. Geils Band, thanking him for playing "Flamethrower."
  • June 7, 1986: Prince had a long on-air chat with Mojo on WJLB. This was right around the weekend where Prince celebrated his birthday by playing Cobo Arena in Detroit.

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