Johnnie Putman along with her husband, Steve King, were long time overnight hosts. She joing WGN Radio on Valentine’s Day 1985. Johnnie and Steve broadcast their 6,207th and final show on December 9, 2011.
Johnnie Putman is a woman whose experience in broadcasting is as impressive as it is extensive. After graduating from Columbia College in 1977, Johnnie joined the staff of WMRO-AM/WAUR-FM in Aurora, IL. For five years she displayed her versatility hosting both a talk show on the AM and a contemporary music show on the FM. After her second year she was named the station’s Operations Director.
In 1982, Johnnie headed off to the “big time” in the Windy City. As the newest member of the staff of WIND-AM, she became one of Chicago’s first female talk show hosts. For promotional events, the station paired Johnnie with another one of their talents, Steve King. The match worked perfectly, not only for WIND, but for them, as well. They were married in 1984.During this same year, Johnnie moved across town to WCLR-FM. While working as the station’s Morning and Afternoon Drive Traffic Reporter, she also produced Steve’s Emmy nominated program on WFLD-TV, “Chicago.” On Valentine’s Day in 1985, Johnnie sat in with her husband during one of his programs on WGN Radio. The favorable response which followed led her to move to WGN. Her work as a traffic reporter on the Wally Phillips and Bob Collins Shows, led to her position as Steve’s co-host on Chicago’s number one overnight radio program.
Although Johnnie’s career is clearly based in radio, she has not let go of her interest in television. Johnnie has hosted the Chicago Auto Show Television Preview for WGN-TV, and has spent many Labor Day weekends with Steve, co-hosting The MDA Telethon. In 1987, she and her husband wrote and co-hosted WGN-TV’s eleven hour memorial salute to Elvis Presley, and in 1989, she appeared as a celebrity contestant on the TV game show, “Win, Lose or Draw.” Johnnie and Steve have also been featured on NBC-TV’s “Today” and in 1995 their voices were heard on NBC-TV’s “ER.”
A native of Tennessee, Johnnie’s favorite hobby is going to the movies. Her love of film began in college with the production of her own three pieces, one of which became an award winner.
An avid reader who has been known to devour three hard back books a week, Johnnie’s other off air interests include a passion for gardening, decorating (listeners constantly request pictures of her year round holiday tree) and cooking. And speaking of cooking, as a result of even more listener requests, Johnnie hopes to finish writing her Gluten-Free cookbook.
With all of her years of experience and professionalism, Johnnie is anything but jaded and still brings to the show a wonderful sense of excitement and awe that has been known to surface freely on special occasions such as when Paul Harvey, Bobby Sherman or Mickey Mouse called just to sing “Happy Birthday” to her.
Johnnie’s involvement with her WGN listeners does not end when the show does. She has been known to spend hours off the air helping a listener solve a problem. Along with Steve, she devotes much of her time to worthy causes such as WGN’s Neediest Kids campaign, or non-station events such their annual Easter visit to Children’s Memorial Hospital to distribute toys for the kids.
For many years Johnnie and Steve, sometimes joined by Dick Clark, were the opening day hosts for the Les Turner ALS Foundation’s Mammoth Music Mart.
Johnnie Putman’s enthusiasm for her many on and off air activities makes the difficult look easy and sometimes makes you forget she has helped open doors for women in broadcasting in Chicago. Such enthusiasm comes through the radio to thousands of overnight listeners who have made “The Steve and Johnnie Show,” on WGN Radio, their number one nightly habit.