walton & johnson

John Walton, left, and Steve Johnson co-hosted the syndicated 'Walton and Johnson' show. Walton died July 1. 

John Walton, half of the longtime popular syndicated "Walton and Johnson" radio show started in New Orleans in 1983, died late Monday.

His radio partner, Steve Johnson, confirmed the news Tuesday morning in an emotional blog post.

Johnson said Walton had been under medical treatment for the last month of his life and that his final hours were at his home with his family.

Walton's illness was not specified. Family spokesman/lawyer Michael L. Eckstein, of New Orleans, said he Walton was 67.

"I will always cherish John as not only a partner but a dear friend," Johnson said. "His wit and humor defined him as the unique individual we all knew him to be. He will never be replaced. He had a voice and he had something to say.

"Your loyalty and support for him and his craft was always a mutual sentiment. John cared deeply for all of you. He loved to make you all laugh."

The show airs from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on WJBO, 1150 AM and 97.7 FM in Baton Rouge, WRNO 99.5 in New Orleans, KFTE 105.1 FM in Lafayette, KZMZ 96.9 in Alexandria and KTUX 98.9 (out of Carthage, Texas), serving the Shreveport area, along with 10 other stations throughout the South.

The self-proclaimed "Radio Gawds," the duo's unscripted morning show is known for its satire, character voices, skits and topical news. Their conservative stance on the issues of the day are sometimes politically incorrect and often controversial. They've laughed about how many times those views have gotten them fired.

Although it seems as if several "co-hosts" are in the Houston studio where the show most recently originated, Walton and Johnson are actually the voices behind the several characters heard daily in addition to themselves. There's Billy Ed, known as the redneck; Mr. Eaux, an African American, and the gay Mr. Kenneth. The co-hosts had the ability to flip among their characters seamlessly, whether bantering about national politics or the Kardashians.

On any given morning, show fans, called 10%ers, also might hear from real guests such as New Orleans native and author Anne Rice, actor John Goodman, a New Orleans transplant, or famed chef Emeril Lagasse, to name a few, according to WaltonandJohnson.com

"John was an incredible contributor to great radio," Michael Hudson, area market president for iHeartMedia, parent company for several stations carrying the "Walton and Johnson" show, said Tuesday. "He was an intelligent and funny man. The best injection to news talk radio today." 

Not Amused_lowres

John Walton, left, and Steve Johnson, co-hosts of the syndicated 'Walton and Johnson' are shown in the radio show's earlier days. Walton died late Monday night. 

Hudson confirmed that Wednesday's "Walton and Johnson," airing at the usual time, will give listeners a chance to share their stories about Walton and the show. Johnson will co-host Wednesday's show with "Producer Kenny" aka Ken Webster Jr., who's been filling in for Walton the last month. As for the show's future after that, Hudson said the company "is being respectful of the Walton family right now." In his blog post, Johnson said the show will return as soon as possible.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Johnson's Facebook post announcing Walton's death had gotten 2,200 comments and 8,900 shares.

In a TV interview in 2017, Walton discussed how he and Johnson, both Houston natives, ended up in the Crescent City, starting their new radio show back in the '80s.

"We got to New Orleans by accident," he recalled. "They took us to Ruth's Chris Steak House, and that was it."

From New Orleans, the radio duo moved the show to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas in 1986 and had a short stay in New York in 1988, before returning to New Orleans and WEZB. In 1993, syndication and subsequent financial woes caused Walton and Johnson to part ways in spring 1994, but reunited later that year in New Orleans. The show has originated from Houston since 2004, according to the show's Facebook page.

"We're kind of like dinosaurs," Walton said in that 2017 TV interview. "There's nobody left doing it. I'm pretty sure that whenever we're done doing it, nobody will pick up the stick and run with it."   

Email Judy Bergeron at jbergeron@theadvocate.com.