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After more than 60 years in the industry, Johnny Western
Wichita, Kan. - Between hosting his
own full-time radio show as a teenager in the 1940s to being named 2008 Disc Jockey of the Year and marking his
60th year in radio in 2009, Johnny Western's
career reads like a true American celebrity success story.
On April 10th the legendary DJ and country music star will take his final on-air bow as he retires from radio.
"We consider it an honor to have worked with a legend-a true Country and Western icon.
Johnny is the greatest storyteller and joke teller; he makes us laugh every day and we're sure going to miss him," said Eric McCart, Journal Broadcast Group vice president and general manager - Wichita Operations.
first guitar when he
was 12 and was singing and playing on the radio by the time he
By 1949 he
own full-time radio program on KDHL in Minnesota and was dubbed the youngest DJ in the U.S. in commercial radio by Billboard Magazine
At 16 he
first release, "The Violet and the Rose."
Put under contract by his
idol, Gene Autry, after graduation, Western
was featured in several movies between 1957 and 1959.
Signed by Autry
's agent after Autry retired, Western
then did a pilot for a series called "Pony Express," was cast in five feature western films and appeared in 32 episodes of televised westerns.
Through writing the monthly column "The Filmland Horseman" for "Western
Horseman" magazine, Western befriended many of the biggest TV and silver screen cowboy legends like Ben Johnson, Clint Walker, Dale Robertson, Jim Arness, Richard Boone, Hugh O'Brien, Steve McQueen and Chuck Conners.
Western joined KFDI-AM (now KFTI-AM) as a disc jockey in 1986, bringing his first-hand knowledge of the business and the stars to his daily broadcasts.
In addition to quickly becoming a listener favorite in the market, his
innate talent and showmanship-combined with a legendary history-led to numerous honors: induction into the TV Theme Hall of Fame
in 1993, induction into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame
and America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame
in 2000, and induction into the Western Music Hall of Fame
That year he
also received what is considered the ultimate honor for a cowboy showman when he
was inducted into the Western Music Association
Hall of Fame.
In 2003, Western
received "The Cowboy Spirit of the West" award from The National Festival of the West.
In 2004 he
was honored with the Western Swing Music Society of Kansas "Hall of Fame" Award.
Two years ago, in the 59th year of his
on-air career, Western
was voted 2008 Disc Jockey of the Year by the Western Music Association
received a Lifetime Achievement Award last September-his 60th year in the business-during the annual Cowboy Symposium.
"On behalf of all of the employees of Journal Communications and Journal Broadcast Group
, we say thank you to Johnny Western
for an inspirational career in country music and country radio.
We have been the beneficiaries of his
dedication to the industry.
has been an important part of the country music landscape not only in Wichita, but around the world.
admits that retiring from radio comes with mixed emotions.
During this, his
last week on-air, Western
can be heard during his
normal time slot on AM1070 the Ranch (KFTI-AM): Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
wife plan to move to Arizona to be closer to family, and Western
will begin another packed concert tour schedule in June when he
performs at the Memphis Film Festival.