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The Backstory

"It's more than
a hobby.

Bela Lugosi - 1955


RJ & camera

How A Hobby Became A Career

Rick Johnson’s radio and TV broadcast career began when he was thirteen years old. His voice changed and he was hired as a disc jockey at a small town FM station in Eugene, Oregon for $1 an hour. He began making 16mm films in high school. Having been bitten by the broadcasting bug, he found work during college in commercial broadcast TV as a producer, videographer and editor. His first documentary project, made with co-producer Joan Biggs, was Time of the First Moon, which earned the national Scripps Howard Award in 1975 for Best Documentary.

He focused on documentary, magazine and Public Affairs programming, eventually becoming the national producer for Group W Television’s Evening Magazine and PM Magazine syndicated series. His producing and directing credits include prime time specials which have won two Emmies, plus Telly, Aurora, CINE Golden Eagle, and New York Festivals Awards.

He has produced syndicated programming for Group W Television, Discovery Channel, Sci-Fi Channel, Travel Channel, and Hallmark.

In 2005 Johnson was recruited by Trinity Church Wall Street in New York to become Director of Television and New Media to lead the development of an online video portal and to create programming for distribution over the Internet. Its interactive content allows viewers to participate in the civic conversation without geographic, social and economic boundaries.

Under Johnson, the separate Web and TV departments were brought together to become a leader in institutional streaming. He led a redesign of the web site's user interface, and produced multiple live streaming webcasts from Trinity's digital facility and robotic cameras in Trinity Church. The studio was used for many live to tape recordings.

Johnson continues working in online media on the West Coast as an independent producer and director, creating online video and web-based projects for institutional and business clients.

Streaming Media Magazine

Prior to Trinity Church, Johnson served as Executive Director of GraceCom Media at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, which he founded in 1995. He and his team created an award-winning Web site, television programming, satellite teleconferences, and live events such as The Forum, a weekly "talk show" on critical social and spiritual issues. Johnson also hosted a public affairs program, LightWorks, on San Francisco’s KRON-TV.

In year 2000 he produced and directed a TV ad campaign that won honors at both national and international festivals including the Telly Award for Best Public Service Campaign.
He and his team were pioneers and leaders in using Web streaming technologies to connect to a diverse audience in conversation and reconciliation, and to educate the public on critical social issues. In 2004 www.GraceCathedral.org, the Cathedral Web site, won the Webby Award for Best Spirituality site.

Rediscovering the Labyrinth, produced and directed by Johnson after two years of research, won the 2002 Aurora Gold Awards for Directing, Best Documentary, and Best of Show for Graphic Design, and a 2003 Emmy nomination for Directing.

Songs Of The Season, a prime time special, is an hour-long musical special, shot on location at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, with the Cathedral Choir and orchestra. The program aired four times in evening slots on KRON4-TV, and again on Christmas Day. The program won the 2005 Aurora Platinum Award for Best In Show, four Telly Awards, and a Summit Creative Award.
Songs of the Season
  Johnson's public service includes a term on the Board of Governors of the regional chapter of the National Television Academy, which presents the Emmy awards.

He also served six years on the board of the Academy of Friends, a San Francisco AIDS fund raising organization, and chaired the board for two years. He has served on the board of directors of his Co-op Association in Brooklyn Heights, New York City, and Homeowners Assn in Mill Valley, CA.