The Midnight Funk Association was the 12 a.m. segment of the legendary late night Detroit radio DJ Electrifying Mojo, a.k.a Charles Johnson.
An entire generation of faithful fans and listeners from the late 70's through the early 90's recognize the radio show for shaping the musical tastes of listeners in the Metropolitan Detroit Area, Northern Ohio, and Eastern Ontario Canada.
Mojo broke many artists in the Detroit market including Prince, The J. Giles Band, The B-52's and turned audiences on to classic legends like Pink Floyd and Peter Frampton, artist previously unheard on radio stations that were labelled as "black", or "R and B" .
Nightly at 12 a.m., Mojo called to order The Midnight Funk Association, an homage to some of the great funk bands of the day and of all time. He frequently played original long versions, and entire sides of albums by George Clinton and Parliament / Funkadelic, Prince, Rick James and many other all time great bands and artists, as well as local groups like Ready For the World.
At the top of the show, Mojo opened membership to the MFA, and members new and old were asked to stand up to show solidarity.
* If you were driving you were to flash your headlights.
* If you were at home, you turned on your porch light.
* If you were in bed listening to the show, you were required to dance on your back.
And every night for years, people did it !
To become a card carrying member of the MFA, listeners wrote in the radio station and would receive their official MFA I.D. card.
Electrifying Mojo, and the Midnight Funk Association was one of the last great radio music shows of our time. Many fans of the radio show credit Mojo for being fans of music that they would have otherwise never heard of. He was a huge influence in turning millions of listeners into Prince fans, and many say was responsible for a six show sell out at Cobo Hall in Detroit in the late 80's.
It is common to speak to fans of the show that will credit him for turning them on to Peter Frampton, The B-52's, Pink Floyd, and many other artists that were never heard on Detroit's "R and B" stations, yet he also supported emerging rap artists like Eric B and Rakim, Run DMC, Whoodini, L.L. Cool J, and the many styles of music heard of the show fit together semmlessly as if they were mean to be enjoyed together.
The Godfathers and Originators of Detroit House and Techno Music, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, now known and respected around the world as groundbreaking, credit Mojo and the Midnight Funk Association as an early influence in their musical development and he frequently supported and played thier early and history making tracks that launched Detroit techno to the entire world including Inner City's "Good Life", Derrick May's "Strings of Life", Cybotron's "Cosmic Cars", Model 500 "No UFO's", "Technicolor", "R9" and so many others.
Mojo was known to support and embrace electronic music in it's early stages and frequently played artists like Africa Bambaataa, Kraftwerk, and New Order as part of his nightly radio show.
Common segments of the legendary radio show included:
* 10:00pm - The Landing of the Mothership. This was the intro to each show with spaceship sound effects and related dialog. Sometimes the music heard during the first hour was indicative of what you'd hear that night; sometimes it would be completely random.
* 11:00pm - Awesome '84, '85. In the mid eighties, Mojo played an hour of brand new music (hence the year in the title) and a lot of new songs were introduced.
* 11:30pm - Lover's Lane. A half an hour of "slow jams" for lovers.
* 12:00am - The Midnight Funk Association. Consisted regularly of Parliament-Funkadelic, The Gap Band, Zapp and other funk bands of the era.
From 1:00am to 3:00am (2:00 am on Saturday nights), Mojo's show was different every night. Sometimes, the MFA would stretch well beyond 1:00am, other times Mojo would introduce segments such as:
* Star Wars - A classic "artist vs. artist" set, where Mojo would alternate selections from two different groups or artists, and the listeners would call in to vote for their favorite.
* Journey - Sometimes a multi-night segment, where Mojo played songs by a single artist or group, spanning their entire career. This usually included a mix of hits and obscure songs by that artist.
* Shout-out - Everyone that called into the station during his show was the recipient of a "shout-out". He would go on for as long as it took rattling off the first names of every single person who had called in to the show.
* 35-35-35 - Mojo would take suggestions from listeners about their favorite artists and bands. He then would choose the three most popular groups that night and play thirty-five minutes, commercial-free, of each group. This segment often gave airtime to groups that no other radio station in Detroit played.
At other times, Mojo would spend the last 2 hours of his show showcasing live mixes on two turntables, by bringing in local DJs to do the same. One such DJ, Jeff Mills, began his career with Mojo as "The Wizard." Mojo also would air music by local groups at this time.
In the Metro Detroit Area, The Midnight Funk Association was more than a nightly radio show, it was an event that listeners looked forward to every night for years.
It was common to see cars flashing thier lights at midnight and horns honking on the streets all over town at Midnight.
Mojo crossed color lines and did not adhere to a play list like today's prepackaged radio stations and while broadcast on stations marketed toward the African-American market, his programming was an inspired blend of the best soul, funk, New Wave, and rock that defied standard radio industry formats and genres.
He believed that good music had no color, and should not be packaged into "Black" stations, and "White" stations, a concept still lost on today's radio station owners, and program managers.
Electrifying Mojo and his Midnight Funk Association was the last of the great radio shows, and the last show that had any originality, and independent thought outside of a prestructured play list or carefully crafted demographic studies.
By following his love of music and adhering to a standard of just playing what was good, Mojo accomplished something that radio has been unable to do since. Capture a cross section of music lovers that encompassed every age, race, and finacial demographic, and create listeners andloyal fans that tuned in simply because they loved the DJ and the music.
Most recently, Mojo is serving as Program Director for a handful of Detroit radio stations - he does not publicize which ones - and he was in negotiations to bring his show to XM satellite radio in 2006, but so far nothing has been heard about it.
Fans from all over still speak of the legendary radio show, as well as, others who have heard about it and what it meant to so many, for so long.
For those of us that were there, The Midnight Funk Association will live in our hearts forever, and we will always be card carrying members.
It was truly one of the last great radio shows of our time.