Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) in the studio to discuss the last few weeks on the campaign trail for re-election.
Leahy: We are joined in the studio by somebody who loves radio, our good friend, State Senator Jack Johnson, the State Senate majority leader. Good morning, Jack.
Johnson: Good morning, Michael. Good to be back with you. And you’re right, I do love radio.
Leahy: And you got the radio voice going on. You have some experience in radio.
Johnson: Yes, I did. When I was in high school, I went to work for the little AM 1000-watt country music radio station. I have a very, very good friend, Ben McCain, who was in radio and television, and he encouraged me to do that. So I worked there for a while and throughout high school and college and really enjoyed it.
Leahy: The thing about radio is you just have to focus on what you’re saying and how you are saying it. It’s so much better to do radio than television, because on television you have a shorter time span, and you got to look pretty.
And it’s just an awful lot of work for a very little amount of time. On the radio, you actually have, I think, a closer connection to listeners. I think they get to know you better and they’re engaged in the conversation.
Johnson: And for someone like me who is in public office, the thing I appreciate, and I really appreciate about your show, is the ability to come on and spend more than 15, 20 seconds talking about an issue.
And I’ve done certainly my fair share of hits on television and the 10:00 news, and I respect what they do, but it’s a minute-and-a-half package and they may interview you for 5 or 10 minutes and then they end up using 20 seconds.
And you don’t know which 20 seconds they’re going to use in the piece. So radio, this is live. I can say what I want, you can ask me what you want. So I’m a big fan of talk radio.
Leahy: And the other thing too is it’s so much better in-studio. We’ve done a lot of newsmaker interviews with you over the phone, but there’s so much you can’t do when you’re on the phone with somebody.
When you ask a question, I can see kind of what your reaction is to it and vice versa, and the timing all works better. We do newsmaker interviews because not everybody can come in the studio. But we prefer having folks in the studio. Now, you won your primary.
Johnson: I did, yes.
Leahy: And I guess you don’t have any competition in the general.
Johnson: In the general, that’s correct. There was no Democrat that filed and qualified to be on the ballot. So for the folks in the new 27th Senatorial District in Williamson County, I’m the only name on the ballot.
Leahy: What’s interesting about that in the redistricting, I live, I think, in the only precinct in Williamson County that’s not in your district. You no longer represent me. I think Joey Hensley is my state senator.
Johnson: And Joey, of course, is a great guy.
Leahy: Good guy.
Johnson: Good, great friend, fabulous senator, and we’re very excited because of the growth in Williamson County for the last 10 years that the district has been Williamson County, 23rd Senatorial District.
And it was the county, the only one in the state that was that way: one county, one senator. But due to the growth, I had to give up about 33,000 people. And so we notched out the southern part, Spring Hill, up into Thompson’s Station a little bit and put that in.
Leahy: I guess it’s probably more than one precinct.
Johnson: It is. But you’re in that segment there, and it’s very densely populated, so you can barely see it on the map.
Leahy: I talked to Joey about it, and he said, I’m glad to represent you.
Johnson: Well, we’re glad to have him in our Williamson delegation now.
Leahy: Now, what have you been doing? You’ve been in the throes of campaigning. Tell our listeners what you’ve been doing out on the campaign trail.
Johnson: Sure. First and foremost, I want to make sure that all of my Republican colleagues in the Tennessee state Senate – and we’ve got some really amazing men and women representing people in Tennessee in the state Senate. And as Majority Leader, I want to make sure they come back.
We do have some of our colleagues that have Democratic opposition. So once the primaries are behind us, then obviously we shift our focus to our colleagues that we want to make sure they come back.
And I think they’re all going to be fine. But we do have some of our members that have Democratic opposition. So I’ve been traveling the state a lot, supporting my colleagues and helping them to raise money, and they’re all running great campaigns.
And I don’t see any change in the composition of the state Senate. It’s currently 27 Republicans and six Democrats. And I think all 27 – we have a couple of new Republicans that will be joining us – I think the composition of the state Senate, our supermajority status, will remain.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jack Johnson” by Jack Johnson.