John Michael Walton
The Airwaves lost a Radio Legend on Monday, July 1, 2019 at 11:55pm.
John Michael Walton peacefully passed away in his Fulshear, Texas home surrounded by loving family members. He was 67.
Born in Houston to father, John Edward Walton, and mother Mattie Lee Walton (née Hoot), he lived a full and beautiful life as an accomplished broadcast professional, a loving father and husband, an acclaimed opinion influencer and entertainer where his thoughts, opinions and voice travelled far beyond his native city.
He attended Murray State College in Tishamingo, OK, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK, attending on a football scholarship where he warmed the bench, with occasional forays into the fray. Accepted to Harvard Law School, after a law office internship, he declined a law career deciding that broadcasting was his passion.
His first radio job, in 1973, was the overnight air-shift on KILE Galveston/Houston. With studios located in the first level of the Hotel Galvez, on the gulf, he learned that he had made the right choice, and he discovered his love and commitment to the art. From this, he elevated his career trajectory assuming the role of Morning Drive talent, along with the Promotional Director position at KTRM Beaumont/Port Arthur. Multiple and successive positions followed - WJDX Jackson, MS, to KLVI Beaumont to KIEN Great Falls, MT, where his responsibility grew to encompass every phase of the broadcast operation. At KTSA San Antonio and KIX 106 Dallas/Fort Worth, John honed his on-air persona as well as his management skills.
In 1983, a chance meeting with Steve Johnson was the combination that led to the vaunted "Walton and Johnson" radio show. John and his colleague, Steve, daily analyzed world events and news of the day, large and small, connecting with listeners at WQUE New Orleans, HOT 103 New York, and KISS FM Dallas. Additional stations included B97 FM New Orleans, WRNO New Orleans, The Eagle 98.1 Baton Rouge, and shortly after they started multi-city syndication.
Their show daily explored the absurdities of life. They created a space where news, opinion and entertainment collided and delivered a unique morning-drive radio show that entertained listeners in Houston and 15 additional cities throughout the United States. Their listenership spanned the world through their web presence at www.waltonandjohnson.com
getting over half a million individual hits per week on average. Additionally, the Walton and Johnson app serves over tens of thousands subscribers.
For the past 36 years, the Walton and Johnson show has delivered a unique mix of "stream of consciousness", opinionated and compelling talk, guests, musical elements, fictional characters, impersonators,great writing and production coupled with powerful audience interaction. It was this singular relationship with the listening audience that brought success to the Walton and Johnson Show, and tremendous satisfaction to John throughout his career.
In addition, John is the owner/operator of 103 FREE FM in Beaumont, Texas, where he created a format that celebrated the cultural roots of East Texas musical tradition, with an emphasis on spotlighting Texas musicians and performers. Throughout his broadcast career, John Walton, along with Steve Johnson, have raised millions of dollars for philanthropic causes including the Sunshine Kids, Children's Hospital New Orleans, law enforcement officers and first responders, and a long list of additional causes. Additionally, listeners in the armed services sported W&J tattoos, most notably during the Iraq war, as a sign of inspiration and loyalty to the American Ideal of Liberty, Free Speech, and Freedom.
Throughout the years of accomplishments, affiliates and broadcast accolades, John was a loving, supporting and caring husband, father, step-father and grandfather.
Known for his love for animals, his advocacy also included adopt and rescue pets that included dogs, cats, sheep, cattle and horses.
John was predeceased by his parents, and his son, Trent Walton. He is survived by his loving wife of 29 years Lainie Walton, his sons Cody Walton and Adam Walton, and step daughter Olivia Ostrand, as well as Adam's wife Jesse Walton. He is grandfather to their children Nolan and Izzy Pearl. He is an adoptive father also to Jeff Florence and his son Alex. John was truly blessed with a loving family that went beyond the bounds of home to include his exceptional partner and colleagues and his amazing listening audience, and he appreciated one and all!
A Houston Memorial service will be held on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 11:00 am at the Second Baptist Church West Campus, 19449 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX, 77094
The New Orleans tribute, "A Celebration of Life", is Sunday, July 14, from 12:00 to 3:00 at Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70130. A memorial motorcycle run is scheduled to honor John, details available soon on the Walton and Johnson website.
He loved his family, his life and all of the wonderful people he met on his journey. He was so blessed as they returned his love. Then of thousands of condolences have been received, and sincere Thanks to All. Having lost his life to cancer, in John's name, we would like to encourage all to support loved ones in your lives to living well, and addressing health issues at their earliest sign....and maybe a random act of kindness in his honor would be a sterling tribute.
John will be laid to rest in Breckenrige, Colorado
Published by Houston Chronicle on Jul. 11, 2019.