2013 Gold Circle Inductee Bryan Johnson


For those with days to decades in the TV business, I know these are trying times. Many want news in 140 characters or delivered effortlessly by simply following someone. But, believe me, democracy needs TV as much in Century 21; as the country needed newspapers and pamphleteers 230 some years ago. You don’t have to do it for 50 plus years, but please keep on keeping on.

Bryan was born in the U.K., but not, as some suspect, in the reign of Queen Victoria. He arrived in Washington state on Christmas Day 1948.

He graduated from Vashon High School, Centralia Community College, and as summa cum laude at the University of Washington.

Bryan worked in one profession from age 18 to age 76: radio and television. Although he was convinced the future was probably in engineering because of a then-broad English accent, mentors—who are too numerous to list and to whom he is forever indebted—taught him to speak almost like an American and to write concisely.

After five years in the minor leagues, Bryan joined KOMO in 1959. He started doing everything from classical music shows to news, until becoming radio news director in late 1961 or 1962.

His first exposure to television was in 1962, doing news segments on the Katherine Wise cooking and interview show. (TV reporters were too scarce to be available for duty like that.) Bryan also worked in the 1960s with Art McDonald on television documentaries, wrote management editorials when Art was on vacation, and later hosted the half-hour Sunday program, Viewpoint on the News, along with presenting weekend TV commentaries.

All of this before finally leaving radio and joining the ranks of full-time TV reporters.

Some personal thoughts:

Choosing TV news was my “Best Decision Ever.” I received Emmy, Arby, Unity, Better Understanding of Education awards and was the only non-newspaper winner of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Susan Hutchison Bosch award. But these awards are not as important as all the people I met, who shared their thoughts, fears, experiences and stories with me and the television audience.

Right now the Silver Circle plaque is the one award on the wall in my office; it’s alongside a picture of a derelict typewriter, found on the beach in Bandon, OR. Sand covers its broken keys and the title is Writer’s Block. (Perhaps a reminder that my keyboard is at least semi-retired.)