By FELICITY DARVILLE
In the late 1990s, “Matters of the Heart” was such a popular radio programme it became a household name. People from all walks of life were tuned in. Real people with real relationships called in. Some listeners called in just to profess their love; others needed serious help with fixing their relationship problems. Whatever the situation, people found peace, they found answers and they got the help they needed. Each edition, host Kirk Johnson came with vibrancy and energy and kept the audience in tune from start to finish. His show was so successful he was labelled, “Mr Matters of the Heart”.
The relationship talk show series launched from a temporary studio at the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas on ZNS Radio in 1997. He went on to serve as the Assistant Director of Radio there. His wide listenership and strong popularity made the show one that is still well-remembered and loved to this day. Kirk has a big smile; and you could hear his smile in his voice as he hosted the show.
“Matters of the Heart was born out of a broken heart,” Kirk confesses.
“It was a significant period in my life as I worked through the emotional pain of the end of a romantic relationship. My search for answers and healing prompted the birth of the talk show that became a gathering place every Sunday for people across The Bahamas, the Caribbean and globally.”
After the break-up Kirk said he shifted between depression and an insatiable desire to get his life back on track. He believes his journey was not only healing, but a renaissance of learning and growth.
“The show grew into something uniquely fulfilling as listeners and myself became ‘the advisor as well as the advised’,” he said.
Matters of the Heart was one of a few talk shows at the time that streamed live online, a cost that Kirk personally invested in. Private radio was in its early stages with the launch of 100Jamz and Love 97.
In 2011, Kirk left national radio to start his own media, marketing and training consultancy. He continued working contractually in broadcasting at other media houses, including Gems 105.9 and Guardian Talk Radio 96.9 where he hosted the community and current affairs show, “The Things That Matter” until 2013, when he left for graduate school.
Kirk’s path in media evolved at an early age. After graduating from St Cecilia’s Primary School and St Augustine’s College (SAC) for high school, he attended the College of the Bahamas where he completed his first degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. He went on to take up undergraduate and graduate studies at Valdosta State University in South Georgia, receiving graduate degrees in Communication and Educational Leadership.
His first job started while he was still in high school. His brother Lyndon had his own DJ company, Master Mixx. Lyndon has since expanded Master Mixx to include sound engineering, music and lighting services.
“The experience incubated my love for music and the art of entertaining people, Kirk said.
“I used the stage name, ‘Cool it Kirk’, which I got from an ‘impossible-to-forget’ performance of New Edition’s “Cool it Now” in junior high. I worked at McDonald’s and in banking before landing a part-time board operator’s job at the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas (ZNS). I eventually joined full-time as an on-air personality under the tutelage of veteran broadcasters Carl Bethel and Picewell Forbes.
“However, it was Tony Williams and Brad Hanna who worked at ZNS at the time who gave me my first big break into broadcasting. I was then a part-time Journalism and Mass Communication student at the College of the Bahamas. I also benefited from the journalistic coaching of veteran broadcaster Wendell Jones at Love 97FM (Jones Communications) where I worked for a year during college breaks once I began college abroad.”
Kirk’s work in higher education began in earnest when he served as the marketing manager for Nova Southeastern University’s Bahamas regional campus. In 2013 to 2018, he worked as graduate assistant, academic adviser, instructor and interim manager of advising for departments in student and academic affairs.
Mr Matters of the Heart has stayed on his path of connecting media, education and people’s hearts and lives as his own life unfolded.
“I am passionate about relationships… about giving people hope and a chance for healing in their lives and relationships,” he said.
“To describe me in two words would be to say, ‘relationship builder’. I want to help adults and younger people build from the inside out through self-awareness and self-discovery, self-value, serving others and persisting to achieve their purpose and life goals.
“A person’s ability to love and support others and accept love and support from others is influenced by their self-perception and self-love. Fundamentally, our interpersonal relationships (friendships, dating, romantic, family) are directly impacted by the quality of our self-talk, self-view, and self-value.
“My mindset is global and I benefit from the example and mentorship of Dr. Myles Munroe who emphasised the importance of knowing one’s purpose and using it to serve others.”
Today, Kirk is living in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Charlene and his daughters Emi and Ambrielle. He and his wife are busy there challenging and encouraging adults and younger people to live life fully. He is a university mentor, speaker, trainer and relationships educator. Highly energised with a penchant for motorbikes and ping pong, Kirk has invested the past ten plus years creating environments that facilitate growth and human development as the founder of The My Heart Matters Group.
Family has always been important to Kirk: “I grew up in a very supportive home with my mom (Edna) and dad (Chris) and four brothers (Lyndon, Ricardo, Craig and Chad). One of my father’s favorite lines was: ‘there’s a sucker born every day’. It was his way of warning my brothers and me to be mindful of our decisions and our associations. He was Boys Brigade captain and disciplinarian, but always kindhearted. My mom often emphasised the importance of sharing and unity among my siblings. I vividly remember one day when I was about eight years old, she brought home a single Foxes mint, bit it into pieces while it was in the wrapper and shared it among my brothers and me. I was not ecstatic about the size of my piece of candy but learned an important lesson in love that day. I always felt loved and valued at home. My brothers and I remain close today.”
Tragically, Kirk lost one of his brothers to violence. Craig was my schoolmate and friend and four years after we graduated from SAC in 1995 he was shot and killed near the family home in Stapledon Gardens. His father was also shot in the incident, but he survived.
“The importance of prayer and a personal relationship with Christ included attending Sunday service, grace before every meal and prayer at bedtime,” Kirk said of his family.
“It was my parents’ unfettered love that I model my genuine care and interest for others after. I love them deeply and thank God for them. I can never repay all they have seeded into me, but I am trying and in turn, seed into my wife and family.”
Kirk recently celebrated The Bahamas’ official launch of his book, “My Heart Matters: Making a Comeback After Love Breaks Your Heart” at the University of The Bahamas (Harry C. Moore Library, June 27). Hardback, paperback, and eBook copies are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple Store. Printed copies are available in New Providence at Logos and Chapter One bookstores and The Bible Book Gift Centre. Read free excerpts of his book on: Https://myheartmattersbook.com His YouTube Channel launches July 28 - provides relationship education and coaching support as well as an archive of memorable Matters of the Heart shows. His Audiobook release is scheduled for August 15, and the Atlanta official launch of his book is September 15.
“As a part of my civic engagement in The Bahamas, I plan to adopt one 5th grade class to coach and mentor for one semester starting September 2019,” Kirk said.
The virtual and in-person project is called My Heart Matters and focuses on self-discovery, self-value, leadership, communication, and service. More information is available on www.kirkjohnsonworldwide.com. He previously adopted the fifth grade male students of C.W. Sawyer Primary as an initiative of Bahamas All Pro Dad. Connect with Kirk Johnson on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @kjworldwide.