ST. LOUIS – FOX 2 lost a member of its family earlier this week. Longtime broadcast journalist Donn Johnson has died, according to his family members.
Johnson grew up in St. Louis and worked with FOX 2 for parts of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. With an unwavering passion for storytelling, Johnson embraced many opportunities behind the anchor desk and in the field.
Johnson died Wednesday, surrounded by family members and loved ones.
“Dad lived an amazing life, and he loved St. Louis and St. Louis broadcasting,” said Donn’s daughter Lauren Johnson. “He had such a profound impact on broadcasters here, particularly cared about the Black broadcasters and establishing a legacy.”
Johnson was an outspoken advocate for making media industries more diverse.
“In addition to constructive criticisms, there was always this sense of advocacy,” said close friend Bonita Cornute. “He seemed to be the one you could always count on if you had a problem in the newsroom.”
Johnson’s broadcast endeavors began with radio. In 1973, he became the first full-time African American reporter on WIL-AM. He joined FOX 2 in 1978, remembered for detailed city hall coverage.
A larger-than-life fixture in many St. Louis homes, Johnson loved talking politics and baseball. He even had the opportunity to work with well-known sportscaster Bob Costas on Spirits of St. Louis radio broadcasts in the 1970s.
“We did all the home games together, and we became very good friends,” said Costas in a phone call with FOX 2. “He was more than just a respected professional, he was a good person which is what matters most and a good friend to so many of us.”
FOX 2’s Elliott Davis and many others have fond memories of working with Johnson.
Johnson died at the age of 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
“We tried to care for him in his final months,” said Lauren. “He and my mom had been married for 54 years and did a trip to Alaska, and he was able to walk me down the aisle last month. I am so grateful for that last month.”
Johnson was a graduate of Beaumont High School and Webster University. He also served as the communications director at the Missouri Historical Society for several years.