Johnson was found dead at his residence yesterday in or around Aurora, Colorado, the victim of an apparent suicide. Calls to the local coroner’s office were yet to be returned at this writing.
“It’s so sad,” says Craig Glazer, a friend of Johnsons. “He had suffered dramatically the last three years from multiple sclerosis and he had just gone through a very bad divorce and that hurt him. His mother had passed away and he’d lost his radio career. So when you lose your wife, your family, your job and have a debilitating disease, that’s pretty tough. And Russ was a very nice guy – he was good at what he did – I’ll miss him.”
Johnson’s quirky Saturday shows and work with talk show legend Mike Murphy on KCMO-AM in the mid 1990s pointed towards what appeared would be a bright future as a talk show host. And after leaving Kansas City at the turn of the century for a late night talk show gig on Denver’s KOA-AM Johnson appeared well on his way towards achieving that success.
However Johnson’s return here in 2004 for an afternoon drive gig on ultra conservative KMBZ 980 AM proved to be a critical miscalculation. At the time of his decision to take the KMBZ post Johnson had established himself as a rising star in Denver on superstation KOA . He had been promoted to an earlier time slot at night and the likelihood was that he would be further advanced when a daytime gig opened up.
However as the Pitch’s Luke Echterling aka