Lifelong broadcaster Howard Johnson, whose career started in Wisconsin, died Dec. 30. He was 71.
According to his obituary, Johnson grew up in a musical home taking advantage of playing the drums and moving onto the piano and organ. He played in a children’s band that performed on WLUK-TV, WBAY-TV in Green Bay and WLUC-TV in Marquette.
He used his musical knowledge and writing abilities to land a job writing articles about music for the local newspaper. In high school, he began working with the local AM radio station WMIQ and became a live radio host.
“Howard’s love and fascination for radio didn’t stop when his shift ended. He designed and implemented a radio station with the help of his uncle who had knowledge and experience working on radio equipment while in the Air Force.” his obituary read. “When completed, the radio station went on the air in the basement of his parent’s home with the call letters, WQIS (Wonderful Quinnesec Illegal Station). While the radio broadcast signal was limited, the experience he gained was the foundation for his life’s successful career. On this station he was HJ on the PM.”
After high school, Johnson moved to Appleton to work for and eventually manage radio station WYNE.
From Appleton, Johnson and his family moved to Maryland to manage radio station WMHI-FM. It was there he began using his signature trade name, “The Real” Howard Johnson. After changing WMHI call letters to WZYQ, he reformatted the station using renaming to Z104. The station won the Best Small Market Radio Station of the year award from Billboard magazine.
Johnson later moved throughout the country including Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bakersfield, California, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Albany, Georgia. He finally landed in Minnesota as the group general manager for the BOB FM radio group in the Twin Cities.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a future date.