The FishbowlDC Interview With WTOP’s ‘Brickin Brackin Sassafrassin’ JJ Green

Say hello to WTOP’s National Security Correspondent JJ Green, who has worked at the station since 2004. Asked for his thoughts on new versus old media, he replied, “I’ve always been sort of forward leading when it comes to technology. The title for my senior thesis for broadcast journalism was ‘Selected Implications of Satellite Electronic Surveillance.'” Mr. Smartypants graduated from Hampton University, near Virgina Beach. “I had no idea, no understanding that led me to believe I’d be involved in covering national security now. I had no clue, no interest and look where I ended up.” Green praises new media, but stresses that you still have to go that extra step of verification. “We’re so breathless now, with so many other avenues and sources for people to get their news that there is pressure individually to want to keep up and be recognized,” he said. “We have to be really careful when using social media.” Green covers global intelligence and terrorism. His career history is extensive, but we’ll give you highlights. He came to Washington in 1989 to work as a reporter for WMAL radio. After working as a weekend reporter on FOX-5 WTTG in the early 90s, he worked on air as a correspondent-in-training on ABC News NIGHTLINE. He covered various elements of the O.J. Simpson trial and race relations. Asked if he thinks O.J. was guilty, he said, “No, I did not and I do not now have an opinion on that. As a journalist, I don’t think that my opinion really counts when it comes to covering the news.” Green’s resume includes working at CNN, where he covered The Million Man March and The Balkan Peace Talks as a general assignment reporter in Washington. In the late 90s he began working for the Voice of America Television and as host and correspondent of Africa Journal while traveling extensively. Don’t try trash talking him in another language. He’s fluent in Spanish, speaks working level French and is studying Korean and Arabic. Among the problems he faces with government public affairs is they have lumped radio into one pool, so that it all appears to be talk radio. “WTOP is a news radio station not a talk radio station,” Green said fervently. “We have people who do opinion for us. It’s not designed to be a talk radio station.”  In 1996, Green landed what he looks at now as “the” job: host of C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Asked if he kept a straight face with callers, he said, “I think I laughed once while I was at C-SPAN. A caller phoned in and said ‘Dude, you dress almost as nicely as Brian Lamb.’ I cleared by throat and regained my seriousness.” Lamb is purportedly a great dresser. And Green? “I like nice clothes.”

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? One that is finished.

How often do you Google yourself? Whenever someone says “hey have you googled yourself lately?”

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? “No” is the worst I’ve ever said. Thoughts are another matter.

Have you ever goofed up on air? What happened? Yes, a colleague at a radio station, who shall not be named, sneaked into the radio studio years ago and lit my news copy on fire and I huffed and puffed my way through it.  True story.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Tavis Smiley, because one day when I used to host C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” and I was getting hammered by some guy on the phone for being political, which I was clearly not, Tavis, who was my guest, immediately pivoted from the cool intelligent scholar he is and verbally assaulted this guy on live television to get him off my back.