Joshua Johnson, 1A bring ‘national mirror’ to Wichita


Audrey Korte

Tom Shine, Director of News & Public Affairs at KMUW interviews the interviewer, Joshua Johnson – host of NPR’s 1A. Johnson has been covering Wichita this week for his show. Students and faculty from the Communication and Political Science Departments attended the event at Distillery 244 Old Town on Wednesday evening.

Joshua Johnson, the host of NPR’s 1A, held a fundraising event for KMUW on Wednesday. Some students from the Elliott School and the political science department were able to attend for free. 

1A is one of NPR’s most popular programs; covering nearly 400 stations and reaching 3.85 million people weekly. 

“1A’s goal is to act as a national mirror — taking time to help America look at itself and to ask what it wants to be,” says the 1A website.

Johnson visited Wichita as part of the show’s “1A Across America.” The show has selected six stations to broadcast from locally, hoping to broaden its coverage of the 2020 election. KMUW is one of those six stations.

“Wichita was one of the kind of places that mostly gets talked about when something happens,” said Johnson. “The national media comes and parachutes in for a couple of days and then leaves. We are trying to do something different.”

The show spent the last week in Wichita hosting events, broadcasting from KMUW and listening to the stories and opinions of Wichitans.

Tom Shine, current news director for KMUW and former editor of the Wichita Eagle, led Wednesday’s conversation with Johnson.

Johnson spoke about his childhood, his experience as a black journalist, fake news, developing 1A and more. 

Johnson leads conversations to help Americans see the connections, despite the things that divide. The show started in January 2017, taking the place of the Diane Rehm Show – one of the top ten most powerful national programs in public radio, according to the Audience Research Analysis list.

“We wanted to build on the legacy of the Diane Rehm show, not over it,” said Johnson. “We wanted to build a show for a post-2016 election America.”

At the end of the event, audience members were able to ask questions or share stories, and later meet Johnson for photos. 

“Great news writing must be clear, compelling, creative, concise and complete, in this order,” Johnson said in a tweet, referring to a question asked by a young journalist who wanted advice.

1A will be back in town next year to continue their coverage of the 2020 election.