Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

2:00pm - 7:00pm

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 16: Olivia Newton-John performs during Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Stadium on February 16, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cole Bennetts/Getty Images)

Like millions around the world, I was very sad to learn the news of the passing of Olivia Newton-John yesterday. Olivia fought a courageous battle with breast cancer for 30 years. Through it all she remained positive and optimistic and never took on a “why me” attitude. She passed away peacefully at age 73 surrounded by friends and family.

Sadly, there have been so many celebrity deaths recently. We in the media are tasked with informing the public. We create programming and content to let listeners, readers and viewers know of the passing, and perhaps, help them morn.

Yesterday, Olivia’s passing hit me like a ton of bricks. When I first started seeing stories pop up on the internet, I did not want to believe it. Before I made any announcement on the air, I was sure to check multiple sources. Far too many times -in an attempt to be the first – the media gets it wrong by prematurely reporting a death.

TMZ has become a reliable source for news of this sort. Once they ran the story, I informed our WJBR listeners of Olivia’s passing.

It took a while for it to set in, because for me, since I was 11 years old in 1973, she was always there. At the same time of Olivia coming on the pop music scene, I had discovered radio and knew from that age, that’s what I wanted to do. I listened to the radio constantly from that age. I preferred the presentation of Top 40 radio.

While most of my friends loved listening to Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd, I also enjoyed the pop sounds of the time like the Bee Gees and Olivia Newton-John. Top 40 radio offered the variety of music and the presentation I found appealing. So needless to say in the mid to late 70’s, I listened to plenty of Olivia Newton-John. I was also coming of age during that time. Truth be told, she was my first crush!

So, losing her yesterday brought back a flood of childhood memories, including those of loved ones like my parents, who are no longer with us.

To pay tribute to Olivia during my show yesterday, I wanted to play a song from her era, that fit in with our mix from the 80’s to now. The song I chose was “Magic” from 1980. While I was playing the song, Olivia’s haunting vocals in that song took on new meaning knowing she had passed.

“Don’t let your aim ever stray-And if all your hopes survive-Destiny will arrive-I’ll bring all your dreams alive-For you!”

Many of my dreams have come alive. Thanks for being there along the way Olivia! It was a privilege to play your music on the radio!

Here are some of my favorite Olivia Newton-John videos.

  • Sunday Profile: Olivia Newton-John

    This is a 10 minute interview on CBS Sunday Morning with Gayle King. It’s a great interview that shows how fearless and positive Olivia was during her illness.

  • 'Let Me Be There' - Olivia Newton-John

    Her first big hit form 1973.  She started out with a country flair.  What makes this song cool is Olivia’s sweet vocals and the baritone backing her up.  She won a grammy for this one!


  • 'Have You Never Been Mellow' - Olivia Newton-John

    Big hit from early 1975.  She was moving out of her country lean and becoming more pop.  This song has always made me smile!

  • 'A Little More Love' - Olivia Newton-John

    Olivia took on a more provocative sound in 1978!  Great production on this song and her vocals soar!

  • 'Magic' - Olivia Newton-John

    From 1980’s ‘Xanadu’.  The film was a flop, but this song was a huge hit in the summer of 1980!  This video represents one reason she was my first crush and that of many!

  • 'Physical' - Olivia Newton-John


    Did Madonna, Bon Jovi, Journey, Michael Jackson or anyone else have the biggest hit of the 80s?  Nope it was this one from Olivia.  #1 for 10 weeks in 1981!

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