Job Envy: Kevin C. Johnson

 In Culture, Interviews

47, Music Critic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Music buff or not, who wouldn’t want to attend every major concert in St. Louis—and get paid for it? It’s the livelihood of Post-Dispatch Music Critic Kevin Johnson. And, after 14 years and counting, he’s still—in the words of Loverboy—”lovin’ every minute of it.”

How He Got Into the Biz
I decided in high school that this was what I wanted to do for life, so I began preparing myself as far back as then, working on college newspapers, doing a load of internships
at TV stations, radio stations, record labels…and taking dues-paying jobs at newspapers across the country.

I have a degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland.

Why His Job Rocks
I go to rock shows for a living. How could it not rock? But really, this is a dream job for anyone who loves music. I’m able to continue to do the two things I love most—music and writing—and get paid for it. I have the type of job satisfaction that is truly hard to come by.

Best Work Day Ever
That’s every day when you have the best job in St. Louis. But, there was the day at the Akron Beacon Journal when the paper won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on race relations,
and I was part of the writing team. I gave my gold medal to my mother, who displays it on her mantel to this day.

Typical Day
It involves a mix that might include interviewing an act on the way to Scottrade Center or The Pageant, interviewing a St. Louis act that’s prepping an album release party at Plush or Off Broadway, blogging a string of concert announcements for The Blender, writing any number of stories for Sunday’s A&E section and Friday’s Go! section and reviewing a show at night.

Proudest Moment
The day I launched The Blender blog ( four years ago, which was a big success right out of the box and continues to be.

Best Job Perk
Not paying for concert tickets.

Best thing about the music industry
How it evolves in such an unpredictable way, especially how we listen to music. I remember when cassette tapes were phased out for CDs, and I thought CDs were the end-all, be-all—only for digital music to turn that inside out.

One thing people would be surprised to learn
My job is so much more than just going to concerts. I spend more time writing than anything else.

Favorite story/show in the past year
What can top the Kings of Leon pigeon story of 2010, which made news internationally? But, taking in the U2, Jay-Z/Kanye West and Sade concerts in the past year were extra special as well.

Local Bands He Loves
Wow, there are way too many to name! As one of the biggest advocates of STL acts, singling a few out might not serve me well.

Most outrageous anecdote
There’s one involving a dust-up with a major artist from St. Louis, but it was so long ago that dredging it up would be ugly! And, don’t get me started on the specific demands some artists have before you interview them—from Barry Manilow to Ray J.



Kevin C. Johnson


Photo credit: Attilio D’Agostino

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