Joshua Johnson knew he had a huge act to follow when he took over for public radio legend Diane Rehm in January 2017.
But "The Diane Rehm Show" host made the transition incredibly smooth for Johnson.
By not really doing anything at all.
After Rehm decided to retire, the veteran NPR journalist brought Johnson on her program in November 2016 to introduce him to listeners.
"Diane made it really easy," says Johnson, en route to Miami to pick up the prestigious Hank Meyer National Headliner Award, given to journalists who celebrate diversity. "She let her fans know that I was kind of all right, that it was OK to give up her program for my program."
Rehm, 81, is hardly the hovering type.
"She really did exit stage right," says Johnson of Rehm, who still maintains a weekly "On My Mind" podcast. "She didn't make suggestions. She wasn't clingy. She allowed us to build to whatever was to come and could not have been more gracious."
The first year of Johnson's reboot, titled "1A" and produced by WAMU in Washington, D.C., has been an exciting challenge.
"Building a new national show is inherently difficult," admitted the UM graduate with a chuckle. "I describe it often as a mountain of work that gets taller as you climb it. It's very involved, very fulfilling and usually fun."
Of all the illustrious people Johnson would like to interview, who tops the list?
Hands down: Marion Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother.
"I would like to know what it takes to raise a woman who turns out to be Michelle Obama. Marion was also a first grandmother, who was very much behind the scenes. I would like to know what it was like to help raise Sasha and Malia in that environment, when the whole world is watching."
Johnson, 38, will be busy during the short time he's in South Florida. The West Palm Beach native will see family between appearances, doing "1A" live from Miami’s NPR station, WLRN, in downtown Miami on Monday and accepting the award at the Rusty Pelican on Tuesday morning.
"I like going back to seeing how things have changed," says the former WLRN/Miami Herald News reporter, who adds that there are certain creature comforts he misses.
"I didn't know how much I would miss going to the deli at Publix," he laughs. "And the beach! When you live where it snows, that becomes really, really relevant."
TIckets to the Hank Meyer National Headliner Award breakfast ceremony, to be held at the Rusty Pelican restaurant from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, are $45. To reserve, call 305-755-6096 or click on www.miamiccj.org