Joshua “J1” Raiford is the Vice President of Music Programming for the largest ad-supporting
audio entertainment streaming service in the United States, Pandora. We spoke with J1 about
his journey to be in the position he is in today, what his job is like, and what it’s like to be part of
the music industry. Below is our conversation.
Where did you grow up?
I lived in New York all the way through high school and then I came to Atlanta to attend
What led you to your job at Pandora?
I’ve always wanted to be in the music business, but I started working in it in high school. I did
internships at different record labels. My first internship was at this small label called Red Ant
Records because one of my neighbors was an executive there. I worked at Warner Brothers
while I was in high school and college; I was a college rep. Then, when I was DJing in Atlanta,
things started picking up for me. I was doing a gig almost every night of the week, and I got the
opportunity to be on the radio for Hot 107.9, where I got my start. I started as an intern and
then uh became an on-air mixer. Then, once I got on the radio, I realized the person who got all
the power was the program brand director. So I aspired and focused on learning all I could to be
to get myself in a position to be a program director. I became assistant program director of Hot
107.9 and then became program director of two stations in Indianapolis. These were all with
Urban One. I got recruited by Pandora at the beginning of 2019 because they were looking for a
head of hip-hop, and I interviewed for it. Got the position. I found out that they had an office in
Atlanta and asked if I could be located or based down there, and they granted my request. So
here I am.
What made you choose Atlanta?
I just love the city and I love the culture so much. So, after I graduated, I didn’t go back to New
York. I stayed down here all the way to about 2016 when I moved to Indy. I moved to Indy and
then to DC. Spending time away from Atlanta, it just made me realize how special the city was
and how much I missed it. Plus, most of my friends, my frat brothers and then my parents, they
left New York and moved down here. So, I always knew I wanted to come back. I knew I needed
that time away from, from the city to, to develop my skills, resume and to develop as an
executive. The plan was always to come back to Atlanta. I love the city.
What would you say are some of your favorite aspects of working in the music industry or just
It’s creating different events or opportunities for the culture. Whether it's our playback series
where we'll have an artist come in front of an intimate audience of fans, DJs, influencers, college students and sits down and talks about their music, craft, and their journey. I like being able to
meet artists or meet new artists when they're just getting a buzz or they're just getting signed to
a label and playing a part in their career. Also, just being able to put people on or put other
people in positions of, of power and give our people opportunities.
You can keep up with J1 on Instagram @posterchildJ1
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