David Brent Johnson began his radio career at Bloomington community radio station WFHB, where he hosted the weekly jazz program All That Jazz. He started working as a part-time substitute host for WFIU’s Just You And Me in 2002, and created WFIU’s weekly jazz-history show Night Lights, which is now nationally syndicated, in 2004. He has also produced several jazz documentaries for WFIU, including Bix Beiderbecke: Never the Same Way Twice, Jump For Joy: Duke Ellington’s Celebratory Musical, and a four-part history of jazz in Indiana.
As an Indianapolis native and IU alumnus, David feels a keen connection to the history and current state of Indiana jazz. “So many great musicians came from Indiana, and so many outstanding artists continue to live and work here because of David Baker and the IU Jacobs School of Music jazz studies department,” he says. “I love being able to play Freddie Hubbard and Wes Montgomery alongside Luke Gillespie and the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, and to be able to have guests on the show who are a part of today’s scene. Jazz in general has such a rich history and yet there’s a whole new generation that’s infusing it with a 21st-century vitality, and Just You and Me is a wonderful place for me to explore that with WFIU’s very savvy, very Midwestern-friendly audience of listeners.”
A writer who’s published frequently in Bloom Magazine, The Ryder, the Bloomington Independent, and Indianapolis Nuvo, David has won two Society of Professional Journalists awards for his arts writing, and has written for DownBeat Magazine and NPR’s A Blog Supreme. He is also the 2012 recipient of the Al Cobine Award, given by Jazz From Bloomington for outstanding service to the south-central Indiana jazz community. He lives in Bloomington’s near-Westside neighborhood, a short walk from the gravesite of Hoagy Carmichael.