The Electrifying Mojo ( Charles Johnson from Little Rock, Arkansas) was a Detroit disc jockey (1977-mid 90′s) who shaped the social development of a generation of music-lovers in Detroit and throughout southeastern Michigan, N. Ohio, and Canada, and was of importance to the development of Detroit Techno .
He is recognized for having introduced or “broken” many artists into the Detroit radio market, including Prince, The B-52′s, and Kraftwerk , and was occasionally thanked on-air by the artists for his support of their work.
At 12 Midnight, the mother ship would land and Mojo would call to order The Midnight Funk Association, a 1 hour segment featuring funk artist of the day including Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Zapp, Gap Band, Rick James, The Time, classic rock artists like Pink Floyd, and Peter Frampton. or alternative artists like Talking Heads.
The show was different every night. Sometimes, the MFA would stretch well beyond 1:00am and Mojo would introduce other segments or spend the last 2 hours of his show showcasing live mixes on two turntables, by bringing in local DJs to do the same. Jeff Mills, began his career with Mojo as “The Wizard.” Mojo also would air music by local groups at this time, including Detroit House and Techno Godfathers Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, and Juan Atkins.
At the top of the show, Mojo opened membership to the MFA, and members new and old were asked to stand up to show solidarity.
* If you were driving you were to flash your headlights.
* If you were at home, you turned on your porch light.
* If you were in bed listening to the show, you were required to dance on your back.
And every night for years, people did it !
To become a card carrying member of the MFA, listeners wrote in the radio station and would receive their official MFA I.D. card.
Electrifying Mojo, and the Midnight Funk Association was one of the last great radio music shows of our time. Many fans of the radio show credit Mojo for being fans of music that they would have otherwise never heard of. He was a huge influence in turning millions of listeners into Prince fans, and many say was responsible for a six show sell out at Cobo Hall in Detroit in the late 80′s.
It is common to speak to fans of the show that will credit him for turning them on to Peter Frampton, The B-52′s, Pink Floyd, and many other artists that were never heard on Detroit’s “R and B” stations, yet he also supported emerging rap artists like Eric B and Rakim, Run DMC, Whoodini, L.L. Cool J, and the many styles of music heard of the show fit together seamlessly as if they were mean to be enjoyed together.
The Godfathers and Originators of Detroit House and Techno Music, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, now known and respected around the world as groundbreaking, credit Mojo and the Midnight Funk Association as an early influence in their musical development and he frequently supported and played their early and history making tracks that launched Detroit techno to the entire world including Inner City’s “Good Life”, Derrick May’s “Strings of Life”, Cybotron‘s “Cosmic Cars”, Model 500 “No UFO’s”, “Technicolor”, “R9″ and so many others.
Mojo was known to support and embrace electronic music in it’s early stages and frequently played artists like Africa Bambaataa, Kraftwerk, and New Order as part of his nightly radio show.
In the Metro Detroit Area, The Midnight Funk Association was more than a nightly radio show, it was an event that listeners looked forward to every night for years.
It was common to see cars flashing thier lights at midnight and horns honking on the streets all over town at Midnight.
Mojo crossed color lines and did not adhere to a play list like today’s prepackaged radio stations and while broadcast on stations marketed toward the African-American market, his programming was an inspired blend of the best soul, funk, New Wave, and rock that defied standard radio industry formats and genres.
He believed that good music had no color, and should not be packaged into “Black” stations, and “White” stations, a concept still lost on today’s radio station owners, and program managers.
Electrifying Mojo and his Midnight Funk Association was the last of the great radio shows, and the last show that had any originality, and independent thought outside of a prestructured play list or carefully crafted demographic studies.
By following his love of music and adhering to a standard of just playing what was good, Mojo accomplished something that radio has been unable to do since. Capture a cross section of music lovers that encompassed every age, race, and finacial demographic, and create listeners andloyal fans that tuned in simply because they loved the DJ and the music.
Most recently, Mojo is serving as Program Director for a handful of Detroit radio stations – he does not publicize which ones – and he was in negotiations to bring his show to XM satellite radio in 2006, but so far nothing has been heard about it.
Fans from all over still speak of the legendary radio show, as well as, others who have heard about it and what it meant to so many, for so long.
For those of us that were there, The Midnight Funk Association will live in our hearts forever, and we will always be card carrying members.
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