Jon Justice of Twin Cities News Talk opened up in a conversation with Liz Collin about the death of his partner-in-crime Drew Lee, who passed away unexpectedly this summer.
“It certainly has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination,” Justice said. When he received the call, he was in the hospital himself, recovering from open heart surgery.
“In a lot of ways it still is really surreal to me that he is no longer with us anymore,” Justice told Collin.
Lee and Justice co-hosted a talk radio show that focused on Minnesota politics. While the show has been different since Lee’s passing, Justice still wants to give listeners what they expect.
“But at the same time, it’s going to be different, there’s no avoiding that, without Drew there and that camaraderie that we had,” Justice said.
Lee was a friend to everyone and “one of the most understanding and kind people” Justice had ever met, he shared.
Justice is open to new options for the show’s future. A new co-host may be brought on or Justice may continue to run the show by himself, something he would be comfortable with after 10 years of solo talk-show experience, he said. So far, he is pleased with the audience’s response to the current show.
Since COVID-19 and the lockdowns, listener dynamics and habits have changed dramatically with many people no longer driving, a time when they would usually tune in.
Numbers are picking up again now with the midterms approaching, and more people are engaged with the show, thanks to a feature on the iHeart radio app that lets listeners submit 30-second voice clips. Instead of calling in to the show, which fewer people do nowadays, this lets listeners make their voices heard in a new way, Justice said.
He plays the submitted voice memos on the show and responds to them.
“We’ve always wanted the audience to be another member of the show,” Justice said.
While the audience is engaged and passionate, this election season is still a “massive question mark,” Justice said. This time period is different from any other — the way people get their information, the rise of social media, and how information is disseminated.
“I’d like to believe that people are ready for change and that people are ready to head to [the primaries or the midterms], ready to go and make their voices heard,” he said. ”But at the same time, you just cannot be confident in how people really, truly feel once they actually go to vote.”
Justice, who moved from the blue Tucson, Ariz., likes the challenge of hosting a political talk show in a blue state.
“[I like] being able to provide a voice for the people out there who feel like their voices aren’t typically heard,” he said.
Justice said he writes sci-fi novels as a creative outlet and has published a series of seven books, which can be found at mynerdworld.net.