Much-loved industry executive Ian “Jonno” Johnson, who had management roles at both Nine & Seven, has died aged 70.
Johnson ran GTV9 for many years, where he was instrumental in kicking off The Footy Show and bringing Eddie McGuire to Nine. He also ran Nine in Sydney for 12 months after David Leckie departed, before a new CEO was appointed.
He joined Seven as managing director of HSV7 in 2003, with 5 years in the role before being succeeded by Peter Lewis, becoming Chairman of Channel 7 Melbourne and network consultant until retiring in 2016.
At Seven he worked closely with Kerry Stokes to secure the AFL and brought Daryl Somers across from Nine for Dancing with the Stars.
Highly-regarded by the Packer family, he also ran Crown in Melbourne for a few years.
Pete Smith, GTV9 ambassador said, “He really had his feet firmly on the ground when he came into TV, yet he steered the fortunes of GTV so successfully over the best part of a quarter of a century. There was never a more popular Managing Director of Nine than Ian Johnson.”
Tony Jones, Nine News Melbourne said, “His was a people person. One of his great managerial assets was treating everyone the same, it didn’t matter whether you were the biggest star of the network or the cleaner, he treated everyone equally.”
Matt Scriven, Managing Director, Nine Melbourne, said, “Ian was one of the finest television executives that Australia has produced. He had a unique knack and rare quality of knowing what viewers wanted to see. Ian was extremely well liked and respected by all at Nine. He was a true man of the people. Ian’s contribution to Nine was invaluable to the network’s sustained success throughout the 1980s and 90s. We are deeply saddened by his passing and extend our warmest sympathies to his family.”
Glenn Ridge added, “One of the highlights of my life was when I joined Nine. Jonno was there from day one and quickly became more than just a boss. He was very much a mate, as he was to many in the Nine family. Jonno was able to mix just as easily with everyone on the studio floor as he was with the decision-makers in the boardroom. Surprisingly, as an accountant he was a very creative television executive. His affable nature earned him enormous respect from everyone in the industry. He guided me in so many ways, not only on a professional level, but also in matters of life. Some of my most cherished memories are of simply sharing a beer with Jonno.”
Seven has also issued a statement:
Ian Johnson was unique and is well deserving of the accolade “legend”.
In business, Ian Johnson’s contribution to the television industry shaped the national culture.
His instinct put his judgments ahead of trends and built glittering careers in front of and behind the camera.
Behind the scenes, Ian’s compassion and splendid big heart reached out to people when they needed support and understanding most.
His capacity to balance hard work and living a good life put him in a league of his own.
He loved and cherished his family as much as they loved and cherished him.
Our thoughts and love to Kim and each and every member of the people Johnno called family.
It was a great privilege to know and work with Johnno.
To be able to call him a friend and colleague is highly valued by the thousands of people whose lives he touched in countless ways.
We will all miss him, and keep safe every memory and experience we shared with Johnno. He was truly one of a kind.