Local radio traffic announcer Johnny Hill keeps the city moving smoothly
Tessa Berg Photo
You hear Johnny Hill’s voice streaming from the dial during your daily commute, shepherding you from crashes, congestion and construction. Employed by Clear Channel, Hill studies local road cams and traffic data to compile drive-time updates picked up by a handful of local stations including QFM96 and Magic 106.3. Jovial and quick-witted, the reporter shared how
he keeps Columbus from on-the-go annoyance.
I’ve wanted to be on the radio ever since I was a kid. I had a little transistor radio. I thought the disc jockeys were cool, and I wanted to be that cool.
It was mostly jock work for a dozen years out of college. I started at Ohio University. I ended up in Marysville, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and back here in Columbus.
I thought that’s what I always would be doing, but things changed. So I quit trying
to control things. I didn’t think this job would last six months. Now it’s 10 years later.
I get up about 4:45 a.m. The first report is done just before 6 o’clock. I can guarantee you a couple of spots will get heavy every morning at about the same time, almost like clockwork—70 West at Miller/Kelton between 6:30 and 7, 71 North between Frank Road and Downtown around 7 o’clock. But, otherwise, it is never the same job twice.
The toughest part of the job is stopping myself from putting in too much information. I feel like I have to do as much as I can, and some stations require me to do it in 30 seconds and not much more. I have more than once given the wrong outcue for the station I’m on.
The key to not being annoyed in traffic: Let it go. I guess that’s part of my job—to make it easier. I can’t take away the accidents, but if I can take away the anxiety, then I’ve done my job right.