Creative thinking helped Josh ‘J1’ Raiford advance his career in music

Josh “J1” Raiford (Photo courtesy of Joshua Raiford)

With a reputation as one of the hottest club DJs and on-air mixers in Atlanta, Joshua “J1” Raiford, quickly rose through the ranks at Radio One. He is now changing the urban landscape, creating new and exclusive content series at Pandora as director of hip-hop programming and as program director for Sirius XM Pandora Now (Channel 3).

Tell us about your background and how you got started in the music industry.

I started deejaying when I was around 15 years old. I grew up in New York City, so I was influenced by people like Funkmaster Flex, DJ Clue, DJ Envy and DJ S&S. I always had a passion for music, and it’s really what inspired me to get into deejaying. I always thought the DJ was the one that controls the party and influences the culture and the movement, so I wanted to be a part of that. I saved up [for] one record player and used my parents’ old-school record player and would practice on that and try to mimic what I heard on the radio at the time. I got down to Atlanta after I graduated, [and] one of my older frat brothers taught me the art of deejaying, taught me the fundamentals [and] showed me what it was to really be a good DJ, mixing, style, and skills and song selection.

Tell us about how to be in your current role.

I was fortunate enough to deejay so much that I got on Hot 107.9 around 2007 and from there, I became the emcee show coordinator, then worked my way up to assistant program director. Currently, I am the director of hip-hop programming for Pandora music, and I’m also a program director for Sirius XM Channel 3. At the apex of my DJ career, I knew from the get-go it wasn’t something long-term. I knew I wanted to continue to grow [and] also knew I wanted to get into streaming because it has rapidly become so big. I knew if I wanted to have a long career in music, that I would have to start thinking outside the box. They gave me the option of what market I wanted, and I chose Atlanta because [it] is just the epicenter of Black culture and hip-hop music right now.

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