For Women’s History Month I will be sharing the stories that define and provide examples of women empowerment, uplifting stories of personal triumph and businesses that are inspiring and are making a difference for women. Women’s History Month is a declared month each year that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
I want to introduce you to Janine Brunson-Johnson.
Native Washingtonian and media veteran Janine Brunson-Johnson’s career spans two decades. Even before college, she was prepared to succeed. Janine was always interested in the media industry. When an opportunity presented itself, she was ready. She was one of the youngest members to earn a position as an Associate producer at WPGC-AM Heaven 1580 in Washington, DC. After earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcasting and Mass Media from Temple University, she remained in Philadelphia where her radio industry career took. Janine quickly advanced from Marketing Intern to Media Integration Specialist for WDAS-FM, WDAS-AM, WISX, WIOQ, WRFF, and WUSL at Clear Channel Media (now iHeart) in just one year. She would later serve as iHeart’s Director of Promotions of those same stations. Ms. Brunson-Johnson spent 13 years working her way up in the Philadelphia radio market. In 2016, she joined Radio One/Washington D.C., as Director of Promotions for WKYS-FM, which later acquired Sports talk station WTEM-AM. She was returning as a seasoned industry professional ready to give something back to the community that had nurtured her. The station’s markets, goals and initiatives were a great fit for her infectious drive to support our community. Janine’s philosophy is “mediocracy is not an option”. She maintains and expects a spirit of excellence at all times. That work ethic now affords her the opportunity to do what she loves. She is creating innovative events in the metropolitan area for the Radio One/Washington D.C. cluster. Opportunities such as serving as Talent Director for Urban One Honors are the kind of assignments she was looking for. Janine Brunson-Johnson has faced several challenges in her life, one of which was being diagnosed with dyslexia. She vividly remembers struggling in school but, nothing would stop her. Since that diagnosis, she worked tirelessly to overcome the hurdles of dyslexia. You will often hear her say that “they should have never taught this girl to read”. She now reads and deciphers everything with a fine-tooth comb. Janine is an advocate for helping students with disabilities and serves as an example of what hard work and perseverance can do. Aside from her love for the entertainment industry, her passion for health and fitness are essential pieces to her everyday life. She is a certified Pilates instructor, enjoys traveling with her husband and spoiling her furry, four, legged children.
Here is HERstory:
My story began as a young black girl with undiagnosed dyslexia at one of the country’s top high schools (Sidwell Friends). Teachers labeled me as a social butterfly because it was easier to socialize than it was to decipher what my brains was seeing long enough to read aloud A month after college I landed a job at iHeart where I produce events like Unity Day, Powerhouse and Jingle Ball. I am now at Radio One where I continue to produce events and I’m also the Talent Director of Urban One Honors. I’ve been into podcasts since I can remember. During the pandemic all of our trajectories changed. So I started a podcast with my college friend Dr. Nicole Lee Plenty. It started out as a way for us to talk about everyday issues that affect us as black women. It’s become an awesome community of women (not just black women). While we set out to help others with each episode of the podcast our listeners give us so much more than we can ever give them. This is our weekly opportunity to socialize.
Her business is Oh That’s Deep! Black Women Conversations Podcast and JVI Brand Management Brand Strategy Company.
What does women empowerment mean to you?
Women’s empowerment means recognizing your God authority and power to make the world go round. It also means helping others to recognize their power and authority.
What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share with someone?
You’re worth it! Invest in yourself. You are worth the investment and so much more.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want my legacy to be that of opportunity. I want to provide people with opportunities.
What inspires you?
Black Women Inspire Me. Regardless of the circumstances, or obstacles Black women continue to show up for the world when the world doesn’t show up for them. Black women know that giving up isn’t an option because the world depends on them.
What kind of impact do you want to have on those around you?
I want to be of service to others and I hope that then leads and inspires them to pay it forward.
What does self care mean to you?
Rest and reset. There is no “Burnout Badge of Honor” so rest is of utmost importance.
What obstacles have you overcome or hurdles did you personally face and how did you overcome them?
My biggest obstacle was my dyslexia. Once I went to therapy to learn how to decode my brains coding a whole new world opens up to me.
When did you realize entrepreneurship was right for you?
I feel like I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I used to take my beads and make jewelry and sell it to my mom’s friends. I’ve always had a super creative mind that didn’t fit well within the confines of organizations so I feel like entrepreneurship has always been a part of my journey.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship?
I chose entrepreneurship because providing opportunities for others is very important to me and I like to be able to do that without asking for permission.
What would you say is your most driving motivation to keep doing what you to do?
What motivates me are the sacrifices that my mother, grandmother and ancestors made so that I could be afforded the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your business and personally?
I would like my podcast to become the top 100 in its category and I would like to help build a startup brand to grow to a Fortune 500.
Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me about them.
Cheryl Jackson who is a phenomenal gospel radio personality and a legendary programmer in the gospel music industry is the first person that took a chance on me when I was a little high school intern. She is the reason that I’m in the field that I’m in today. She is and always has been light years ahead of the gospel music industry. She’s also a wife, a mom, and evangelist. She does it all! I still have the pleasure of working with her day to day. She’s truly amazing.
Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to be doing what you’re doing today? Tell me about them.
I did. I had an issue with the way I was understanding the medical industry to be (my freshman year of college) and I addressed my concerns about our healthcare system with my professor at the time. He said to me “If that’s how you feel you should either go into public health policy or maybe find something else that interests you.” I hate policy and politics so that wasn’t an option so I found something else that I was interested in.
What’s next for you in your business/brand? What can readers look forward to from you?
When outside is open and safe we are going to plan an Oh That’s Deep! Retreat. In the meantime we will continue to do virtual events.