Texas Public Radio producer keeps people connected to important issues (and live music) in the Alamo City
by Mary Denny
Graduating during the recession of the late 2000s took a toll on many graduates, but the scarcity of employment opportunities ultimately proved beneficial for Kim Johnson. After a brief stint with part-time jobs—think babysitting, Bombays, and unpaid internships—she headed to the University of Texas at Austin for a degree in digital communications. Her timing was perfect. The age of social media and digital everything was dawning, and the program prepared her well to meet the demands of 21st century journalism. Although she had planned on a career in print journalism, working part-time at Austin’s NPR affiliate KUT turning raw radio scripts into polished copy for the web gave her an inside look at a radio newsroom. That, plus her few years as an “Indie Overnight” DJ at Trinity’s KRTU, helped launch her career with Texas Public Radio (TPR).
Kim joined the San Antonio-based station on September 26, 2016—her birthday—as the assistant producer for their flagship show, “The Source” and was soon promoted to lead producer. The job entails conceptualizing and booking guests for each episode and making sure the shows run smoothly—e.g., coordinating logistics for the panelists, cuing up audio clips, putting through listeners’ calls, live fact checking and feeding the host helpful information and direction from the production booth. She has produced election night coverage and intermittent statewide evening specials and occasionally hosts the show herself.
“The best part of the job is that I have a lot of creative control and a great team that trusts and supports me everyday,” she says. Since Kim’s arrival, the show has received multiple awards, the most recent of which is the Anson Jones Award from the Texas Medical Association earlier this year for an episode highlighting arterial disease and the approximately 1,500 diabetes-related amputations that occur in Bexar County annually.
A longtime live music fan, Kim also has been deeply involved in the local music scene for nearly a decade. In 2011, she and fellow Trinity alumni Libby Day and Louis Andrade founded SATX Music “to fill a void in the local music ecosystem.” At the time, she explains, most venues didn’t have websites with calendars or social media to promote their upcoming events.
“We decided that wasn’t acceptable and created our own website to serve as a community resource for information about live music events in San Antonio,” she says. “We aggregated information from everywhere and everyone we could, beating down doors to find out details about who, what, when and how much and who was allowed to attend.”
Years of running that calendar helped Kim build many connections and relationships within the local music and arts communities. When Do210, a larger platform promoting all local entertainment options, came to town, she managed their calendar of events as well for a while. She and Libby also booked talent for SA Music showcase for the past seven or so years, which has increased in popularity to the point that in 2018 there were 20 stages at 16 venues featuring more than 60 local bands, singer-songwriters, and DJs playing genres ranging from indie, alternative, and punk rock to blues, hip hop, jazz, folk, and industrial.
Currently, Kim is taking a break while preparing for her October wedding to someone she met five years ago at a live music venue just a few blocks from the Trinity campus, but hopes to resume booking in 2020. A die-hard music fan, Kim shares info about live music events on SATX Music's Instagram Stories and is in discussions to find freelance writers to feature regular album and show reviews on their website. “Stay tuned!” she advises.
In October, Kim will celebrate her 10-year Trinity reunion. Looking back on her Trinity experience, she gratefully remembers (now retired) communications professor Sammye Johnson as a “tough but effective and overall exceptional and influential educator” and Spanish professor Carlos Ardavin, who encouraged her to finish a second major in Spanish and participate in a “transformative” semester in Seville, Spain. A bit ruefully she adds, "I do wish I’d spent more time off campus during those years to really explore San Antonio. It wasn’t until after graduation that I really learned to love this city.”
Kim also loves traveling, listening to podcasts, playing the piano, cuddling her cat, and socializing with a local club—comprised mostly of Trinity alumni—called LUPEC: Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, all the while encouraging “everyone to get out and experience the sounds of San Antonio!”
You can contact Kim at Kim [at] tpr.org