Bill Johnson, longtime station manager of WRTI-FM (90.1), has been named the station's new general manager. He replaces Dave Conant, 70, who retired Dec. 23 after nearly two decades heading the station.
Johnson, 52, has been WRTI's station manager for 16 years, and says he does not anticipate any major changes to the Temple University station's half-classical, half-jazz format, or its offerings.
"It’s a little bit of, if it's not broke, don't fix it," he said. "My number-one priority is to increase listener service and value. If you are a listener you like the format and what we choose to present. But we have to think a lot about whether we are giving folks our best in terms of what we select and what we say about it. There is always room for improvement, always an opportunity to discover a new artist or a new work, and we have to be very smart about picking those out and sharing - here is why we are excited about this beyond just listening, sharing the scoop about how we feel and think about the music."
A trumpeter, Johnson is a graduate of Cornell University who has worked in senior spots in corporate and foundation relations for Temple University and Cornell after jobs at Chubb and the Equitable in New York City. He has served on the boards of WYBE and the African-American Jazz Caucus of the International Association for Jazz Education, and is currently on the board of the International Society for Improvised Music.
His old position at WRTI of station manager will not be filled, a spokeswoman said.
Classical and jazz stations have become endangered species in the U.S., but Johnson says WRTI and its current format — which includes fulltime HD stations for both classical and jazz — is here to stay.
"It's not going anywhere," he says, "we need both. We need classical and jazz for the city, and we need it for the country. Period."