December 25, 2003 by

Ben Johnson


Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

Ben Johnson, a veteran journalist and radio talk show host, committed suicide last weekend. Johnson, 53, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. His body was found behind a tree in Huntsville, Ala., and police have ruled out foul play.
After high school, Johnson became a Marine and fought in the Vietnam War. When he returned to the states, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University, and attended graduate school at Wayne State University and the University of Missouri. He also spent five years teaching journalism at UM, and co-founded the school’s Multicultural Management Program.
For nearly 30 years, Johnson worked as a reporter, copy editor and columnist for major newspapers, including the The Huntsville Times, Detroit Free Press, the Chicago Sun-Times, the St. Petersburg Times and The Washington Post. He wrote about topics of interest to the black community, from affirmative action to Kwanzaa to the Confederate flag.
Since 1997, Johnson hosted the “Just Talking” radio show five days a week on WEUP-AM 1600.

3 Responses to Ben Johnson

  1. Rebecca Gaines

    I was elected WEUP mother of the year 1999 on Mothers Day by Brother Ben Johnson and he did an article in the Huntsville Times on me to help me with my grandchildren and he came to our house many times to see if we got help.And our hearts goes out to his family,and we will miss him very much,especially his talk show.

  2. Frederick Smith

    Ben Johnson was my college advisor when I was a student at University of Missouri. When I moved there from Detroit in 1988, another mentor of mine, reporter Susan Watson, said I should definitely meet Ben. She was right. He was very supportive and challenged me to do my best at Mizzou — academically, personally, and socially. Though I am not working in journalism anymore — I work at a university in Los Angeles — I use some of the same advisor techniques Ben used with me. I know Ben will be missed and remembered by his family, friends, and young journalists and students he worked with.

  3. reginald t. dogan

    Browsing the Internet, I stumbled upon a column by David Person of the Huntsville Times. To my shock, I discovered that Ben Johnson had died. What a loss. He was a champion for the cause of multiculturism and diversity in mainstream journalism. As a aspiring journalist in the early 1990s, I had the auspicious pleasure of meeting and working with Mr. Johnson at the Southeastern Multicultural Newspaper Workshop in Columbia, S.C. For nearly a week, he inspired, conjoled, criticized and corrected a room full of young people seeking an opportunity to report, write and edit news. I recall the first day we met. He wore dark sunglasses with a demeanor and spirit of a drill sergeant but the heart and soul of a brother or father. We clicked immediately and his success influenced and inspired me in my career choice that has carried me through the good, bad and ugly times as a professional journalist. His dedication to the cause of diversity in the media and his commitment to the idea of truth and justice were total and complete. The life he lived in courage and truth is a source of inspiration for all journalists, regardless of race, gender or nationality. His life will long continue to touch the hearts of all men and women who seek the truth, fairness and equality as professional journalists.

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