Bruce Johnson
Johnson in 2007
Born(1950-06-05)June 5, 1950
DiedApril 3, 2022(2022-04-03) (aged 71)
Occupation(s)Broadcast journalist, author, public speaker
SpouseLori Smith[1]

Chester Bruce Johnson[1] (June 5, 1950 – April 3, 2022) was an American television news anchorman and reporter for WUSA 9 (CBS) TV in Washington, D.C.[2] He focused on politics and urban affairs as a journalist.[3][4]

In 2018, Johnson was honored by NATAS with its Board of Governors Award.[5][6] He also won the Ted Yates Award in 1984,[7] given only with the unanimous consent of the NATAS Board of Directors. In 2003, the Society of Professional Journalists inducted Johnson into the Hall of Fame.[8] He was also a member of the Washington, D.C., Hall of Fame.

Early life and education

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 5, 1950,[1] Johnson attended Kentucky State University for three years before beginning his broadcast career at the Cincinnati CBS affiliate, WCPO-TV [9] He transferred to Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated in 1973 with a degree in political science. He later earned a master's degree in public affairs from the University of Cincinnati.[10] In 2018, Johnson returned to NKU as commencement speaker.[11][12][13] He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree.[14][15]

Professional career

While still an undergraduate student, Johnson began his career at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio.[3] In 1976, he joined WUSA 9 TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.[1] He co-anchored Channel 9's 6 p.m. weekly newscasts. Until 2019, he also anchored "Off Script with Bruce Johnson," a weeknight 7 p.m. broadcast.[16][17]

Johnson distinguished himself early with notable news stories, including the 1982 Washington Metro train derailment that killed three people and injured 25 others.[18] He covered the 1977 Hanafi Siege where 12 gunmen seized three Washington, D.C., buildings, held 149 hostages and killed a radio journalist colleague; a city hall police officer later died of a heart attack in hospital.[19]

The early 1990s saw him report and anchor for the acclaimed "Capitols of the World" documentaries. Johnson was dispatched to Moscow, Paris, Stockholm, Budapest, Tokyo, Dakar, and Bangkok.[18]

Johnson's assignments in 2010 included a trip to Port-Au-Prince to cover the deadly earthquake and aftermath in Haiti.[20][21]

In March 2013, Johnson reported live from Rome on the election of Pope Francis. Years before, he also covered the Vatican installation of Washington Archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. From Washington, D.C., Johnson covered the visits of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.[22]

Johnson covered the rise, fall, and rise again of D.C.'s best known and controversial local politician, the late D.C. Mayor and City Councilmember Marion Barry, including Barry's arrest at the Vista Hotel for smoking crack cocaine, his prison sentence and return to elective political office.[23] Before his death, the "Mayor for Life," Marion Barry, had instructed his family and staff that Johnson be the only journalist to speak at his public funeral, which drew thousands. Johnson explained to the crowd, "I'm ... thankful to Marion Barry. I owe him my career."[24]

In 1992, Johnson suffered a heart attack while covering a news story in Washington, D.C.[25] He had just interviewed drug dealers working next to a youth summer jobs program hosted by D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly.[25][26] He felt a tightening in his chest and his cameraman drove him to a local firehouse.[25][26] Firefighters transported Johnson to the hospital, where doctors discovered he had suffered a massive heart attack often referred to as a "widow maker." He was 42 years old.[25] As part of his recovery, Bruce Johnson trained and completed the 26.2-mile Marine Corps Marathon in Washington Marine Corps Marathon.[27]

Johnson also authored the book Heart to Heart, featuring his story and the diverse comeback stories of 11 other male and female cardiac survivors.[25][26] The book was also published by the People's Medical Publishing House in China.[26] Johnson traveled to Beijing and Shanghai to promote the book.

Johnson authored a second book in 2012, All Or Nothing, The Victor Page Story, which documents the life of former NBA prospect Victor Page.[28][29]

Publication Year Title Publisher Notes
2009 Heart to Heart[30] iUniverse ISBN 1440170754
2012 All or Nothing: The Victor Page Story[28] eBook2go Amazon Digital Services for Kindle

Awards and recognition

Johnson was honored by many organizations as part of his journalism and volunteer work in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas.[3][31][32] In 1983–1984, Johnson earned the Ted Yates Award[33] given only with the unanimous consent of the Board of Governors[34] of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding professional and personal qualities in their contribution to the National Capital Chesapeake Bay region's television news and public affairs.

In 2003, Johnson was voted into the Society of Professional Journalists' Hall of Fame. The D.C. Council also recognized him as one of the nation's best urban-affairs and investigative journalists. In 2007, Johnson won a local Emmy for his report that resulted in much-needed repairs to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He captured multiple Emmys for his reports on the city's violent crack epidemic in the 1980s and '90s and the plight of D.C.'s inner-city youth.[3][31] Over the years, he won 22 Emmy awards.[35] The Capitol Press Club awarded Johnson its Communication Award of Excellence in 1990. He was an inductee to NATAS Silver Circle and a member of the Washington, D.C., Hall of Fame.[36] Johnson received the Doctor's National Award from the Association of Black Cardiologists in 2011.[32] in June 2018, he was honored with the Board of Governors Award[5][6] from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS).


In 2018, Johnson became a life member of "Mended Hearts," the premier nonprofit advocacy organization for men, women, and children recovering from cardiac issues. Through public speaking, interviews and his website, Bruce Johnson Heart to Heart,[37] he advocated for heart-healthy lifestyles.[38][27] His efforts included a three-part television series that won national recognition from the American Heart Association[38] and a documentary for the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) titled "Before You Eat the Church Food, Watch This Video."[39][40][41]

Later life and death

Johnson was married with three children and five grandchildren. He enjoyed road biking and he practiced yoga.[8][27]

Johnson was a Catholic seminarian before deciding to pursue both acting and journalism.[42] Johnson died on April 3, 2022, after a heart attack in Lewes, Delaware.[1][43] He was 71 years old.[35][1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Silverman, Ellie (April 4, 2022). "Veteran WUSA9 anchor Bruce Johnson dies at 71". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  2. ^ "BRUCE JOHNSON WUSA-TV9 Reporter/Anchor Washington, District of Columbia reporter/anchor/author". BlogTalkRadio. 21 November 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "Notable Alumni: Bruce Johnson". Northern Kentucky University Alumni Association. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  4. ^ "Bruce Johnson: 'Your family members are watching you.' Spring 2018 NKU Commencement Speech". YouTube. May 6, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "2018 Board of Governors Award Honoree Announced" (PDF). (Press release). The National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Of The National Academy Of Television Arts And Sciences. April 26, 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Bruce Johnson NATAS Board of Governors Award Winner 2018". YouTube. June 23, 2018. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "Ted Yates Award for Bruce Johnson cited by DC Council archived document" (PDF). Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Johnson, Bruce (May 19, 2010). "Heart Attack Survivors Share Intimate Stories in Heart to Heart by C. Bruce Johnson". PR Newswire (Press release). Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  9. ^ "Bruce Johnson bio Audible". Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  10. ^ "NAB Bruce Johnson profile". Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "Spring 2018 NKU commencement speaker, Bruce Johnson (33:26), May 6, 2018". YouTube. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  12. ^ "Bruce Johnson: 'Dream big.' 2018 Northern Kentucky University Commencement Speech (45:14), May 6, 2018". YouTube. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  13. ^ "Bruce Johnson: 'Reach out and help out someone who doesn't look like you.' 2018 NKU Commencement speech". YouTube. May 6, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  14. ^ "NKU Doctor of Letters: Bruce Johnson for class of May 2018". Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  15. ^ "Bruce Johnson accepts Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree: Spring 2018 Northern Kentucky University Commencement, May 6, 2018". YouTube. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  16. ^ "WUSA OffScripton9, Opioid trafficking takedown and live discussion with guests, April 17, 2018". Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  17. ^ "YouTube: Bruce Johnson WUSA9". YouTube. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "30th Anniversary Of Metro Crash That Killed 3 People On Blue/Orange Line (video)". WUSA 9. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  19. ^ "Hanafi Hostages: 35 Years Later (video)". WUSA 9. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  20. ^ "WUSA 9 CBS, Bruce Johnson coverage in Haiti, January 14, 2010". January 14, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  21. ^ "WUSA 9 newscast, Jan. 25, 2010: Bruce Johnson reports in Haiti after earthquake". January 25, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  22. ^ "TV Spy article on D.C. coverage plans for Pope Visit, Sept. 21, 2015". 21 September 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  23. ^ Montgomery, Sonsyrea Tate (May 29, 2012). "Chuck Brown fans pay respects at Howard Theatre (including Marion Barry)". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  24. ^ "CSPAN: Bruce Johnson speech at Marion Barry Funeral, December 6, 2014". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d e Martin, Michel. "Journalist Tells Of Having Massive Heart Attack At Age 42 (radio)". Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  26. ^ a b c d Mavity, Rachel Swick. "Lewes resident Bruce Johnson promotes book in China". Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  27. ^ a b c Johnson, C. Bruce. "Marine Marathon (video)". Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  28. ^ a b Johnson, C. Bruce. "All or Nothing, The Victor Page Story". Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  29. ^ "Victor Page: Bruce Johnson Report April 2009, Feb. 26, 2012". YouTube. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  30. ^ Johnson, C. Bruce (September 2009). Heart to Heart. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1440170751.
  31. ^ a b "2006 Emmy ® Award Recipients" (PDF). The National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Of The National Academy Of Television Arts And Sciences. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  32. ^ a b "Author Spotlight: Heart-Healthy Advocate and Author of Heart to Heart C. Bruce Johnson Wins Doctor's National Award". iUniverse. Archived from the original on December 14, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  33. ^ "Profile of Bruce Johnson on National Association of Broadcasters". Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  34. ^ "Ted Yates Award form & List of Winners from The National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Of The National Academy Of Television Arts And Sciences" (PDF). Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  35. ^ a b "Longtime WUSA9 anchor Bruce Johnson dies at 71". April 3, 2022. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  36. ^ "WUSA 9 article on Bruce Johnson's 40th year at the TV station". 15 March 2016. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  37. ^ " Retrieve 2 July 2018".
  38. ^ a b "Award-Winning Reporter Adds a Heart Healthy Lifestyle to His Beat". Bruce Johnson Heart to Heart website. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  39. ^ "PGTVonline report: Before you eat the church food, December 18, 2015". YouTube. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  40. ^ "Private Screening: Before You Eat The Church Food, May 3, 2013". YouTube. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  41. ^ " Before you eat the church food, March 12, 2013". BET. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  42. ^ McCarren, Andrea [@andreamccarren] (February 26, 2018). "Today's Friends of Nigel" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 7, 2022. Retrieved January 7, 2022 – via Twitter.
  43. ^ "Retired Channel 9 anchor Bruce Johnson dies". WTOP News. April 4, 2022.

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