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Roy S. Johnson

Journalist Roy S. Johnson was born on March 19, 1956 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He attended the prestigious Holland Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa, Oklahoma and went on to graduate from Stanford University with his B.A. degree in political science.

In 1978, Johnson was hired as a reporter for Sports Illustrated. From 1982 until 1989, he worked at the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, before returning to Sports Illustrated as a senior editor in 1989. Johnson went on to briefly work for Money, and was then hired as an editor-at-large for Fortune magazine. After a short stint at Fortune, he joined Vanguarde Media, Inc. as an editorial director. In 2001, while working at Vanguarde, Johnson conceived and co-launched Savoy Magazine. In 2003, he returned to Sports Illustrated, where he worked as an assistant managing editor. Johnson was then hired as a consultant for Men’s Fitness magazine, and, in 2007, he was promoted to editor-in-chief. He has also written for many other publications and websites, including Life Goes Strong and ESPN.com.

In 2006, Johnson founded RSJ Media Solutions, a company that offers digital content strategy and media training. He also founded Fit! Live! Win! LLC in 2011, a digital corporate wellness communications firm. In 2012, Johnson founded Write on Essays!, and was named editor-in-chief and executive director of the History Channel’s magazine and the History Channel Club. He has been a frequent television and radio contributor on the topics of sports, fitness, nutrition, wellness and healthy living. Johnson has also served as executive producer of several television programs that have aired on national broadcast and cable networks, including NBC, Fox and TNT. He has co-authored three books: Magic's Touch with Earvin Johnson; Outrageous!: The Fine Life and Flagrant Good Times of Basketball's Irresistible Force with Charles Barkley; and Aspire Higher with Avery Johnson.

Johnson has been a longstanding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and has served on the board of the International Athletic Foundation. He also created the Roy S. Johnson Foundation, which provides financial assistance to minority youth from his hometown in Oklahoma.

Johnson lives in New Rochelle, NY with his wife Barbara and two children, Edwyn and Missy.

Roy Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 16, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.010

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/17/2014

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

S.

Occupation
Schools

Holland Hall

Stanford University

Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School

George Washington Carver Middle School

First Name

Roy

Birth City, State, Country

Tulsa

HM ID

JOH46

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches, Golf Courses

Favorite Quote

Always Impossible Until It's Done.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/19/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Birmingham

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Foods

Short Description

Journalist Roy S. Johnson (1956 - ) was the founding editor of Savoy magazine, and held senior editorial positions at Sports Illustrated, Money, Fortune, Men’s Fitness and The History Channel Magazine. He was the co-author of three books: Magic's Touch, Outrageous!, and Aspire Higher.

Employment

Sports Illustrated Magazine

New York Times

Money Magazine

Fortune Magazine

Vanguarde Media, Inc.

Men's Fitness Magazine

RSJ Solutions

Fit! Live! Win!

Write on Essays!

History Channel Magazine and History Channel Club

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661836">Tape: 1 Slating of Roy Johnson's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661837">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661838">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661839">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson remembers his parents' emphasis on education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661840">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson talks about his father's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661841">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson remembers his neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661842">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661843">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson describes his home life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661844">Tape: 1 Roy Johnson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661845">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson talks about the riots of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661846">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson talks about the Native American and African American communities in Tulsa, Oklahoma</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661847">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson recalls transferring to Holland Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661848">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson remembers his father's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661849">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson recalls the influence of his uncles</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661850">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson talks about Marques Haynes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661851">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson describes his experiences of discrimination at Holland Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661852">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson describes his experiences of discrimination at Holland Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661853">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson remembers his mother's relationship with his stepfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661854">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson talks about his aspiration to leave Tulsa, Oklahoma</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661855">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson talks about his athletic activities at Holland Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661856">Tape: 2 Roy Johnson recalls his early talent for writing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661857">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson describes his decision to attend Stanford University in Stanford, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661858">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson talks about his transition to Stanford University in Stanford, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661859">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson describes the black student community at Stanford University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661860">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson remembers his summer internships</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661861">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson recalls reporting on the Patty Hearst trial for The Standard Daily</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661862">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson talks about the student activism at Stanford University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661863">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson recalls interviewing for a position at Sports Illustrated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661864">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson describes his career at Sports Illustrated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661865">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson remembers his mentors at Sports Illustrated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661866">Tape: 3 Roy Johnson talks about his experiences of discrimination at Sports Illustrated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661867">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson remembers joining The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661868">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson describes the writing style of The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661869">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson describes his relationships with colleagues at The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661870">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson describes his experiences as a sports reporter for The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661871">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson talks about Al Campanis' impact on professional sports</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661872">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson describes the highlights of his career at The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661873">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson recalls his decision to leave The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661874">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson talks about his career at the Atlanta Constitution</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661875">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson describes his return to Sports Illustrated as a senior editor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661876">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson remembers writing 'Magic's Touch' with Magic Johnson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661877">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson remembers writing about race at Sports Illustrated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661878">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson recalls his transition from writer to editor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661879">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson describes his challenges as a senior editor at Sports Illustrated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661880">Tape: 4 Roy Johnson talks about the increase in African American sports managers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661881">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson talks about the progress toward diversity in professional sports</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661882">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson remembers his transition to Money magazine</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661883">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson remembers developing Savoy magazine</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661884">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson remembers his position as editor-at-large at Fortune magazine</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661885">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson talks about the cover shoot for 'The New Black Power'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661886">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson reflects upon the impact of 'The New Black Power'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661887">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson describes his role as editor-at-large of Fortune magazine</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661888">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson remembers Magic Johnson's HIV diagnosis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661889">Tape: 5 Roy Johnson talks about the NBA's support for Magic Johnson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661890">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson describes the founding of Vanguarde Media</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661891">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson talks about his accomplishments at Vanguarde Media</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661892">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson remembers returning to Sports Illustrated as an assistant managing editor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661893">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson remembers his layoff from Time, Inc.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661894">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson recalls becoming the editor-in-chief of Men's Fitness</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661895">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson talks about founding Fit!Live!Win!</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661896">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson talks about his current projects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661897">Tape: 6 Roy Johnson talks about the future of the journalism industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661898">Tape: 7 Roy Johnson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661899">Tape: 7 Roy Johnson reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661900">Tape: 8 Roy Johnson narrates his photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661901">Tape: 8 Roy Johnson narrates his photographs, pt. 2</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

13$12

DATitle
Roy Johnson describes his challenges as a senior editor at Sports Illustrated
Roy Johnson recalls his early talent for writing
Transcript
Roy [HistoryMaker Roy Johnson], do you remember anything--any, like disappointments or things when you disagreed with how a story was handled and you were at the table? Do you remember, like one or two incidences of that, and how you sort of handled that and--$$I don't know if there were disappointments. I remember being mad--$$I mean, well (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) about, about things.$$Okay. I mean--$$And annoyed. You know, and some may seem relatively small, but this is an instance when we were doing to do--this is at Sports Illustrated, and we were going to do a cover story on a player named Yao Ming, who was this big, you know, seven plus footer coming from China, he's a talented player. And this was early on. He hadn't really done much to deserve a cover other than being tall and from China, but he was a phenomenon. He was a, he was a story.$$(Unclear).$$And I think, you know, there were, there were--this was the beginning of other--obviously, some black players who were, who were talented. This was kind of the beginning of the tattoo era, when people made judgments about you based on the fact that you had a tattoo. And therefore you were X kind of a person versus that kind of a person. So we were--they had decided to do this story on Yao Ming. And I remember leaving the table, the meeting was over, and I asked one of the top editors at the time, I said, "Well, you know, why is it that we're--you're so excited about Yao Ming that we put him on the cover?" He said, '"Cause he's not a thug." And I--sort of stopped me in my tracks. And I wanted to say, "So you mean X player is a thug? I mean, what does that mean he's not a thug? Is somebody else who's a star a thug?" And he, just of course, kind of walked away. But the mentality, you know, again this is, you know, a room of white men covering an industry that is increasingly black. And this dates back to the '70s [1970s] and, you know, the 76ers [Philadelphia 76ers] and teams starting to embrace black culture, the vibe of black culture, the dance, the style of movement. Things were starting--the hairstyles, the wardrobes, you know, Walt Frazier in New York [New York Knicks], and starting to see that permeate sports. And a lot of people were not happy about it. Some of them were commissioners, some of them were owners, and some of them were sportswriters. So again that's an era of change and being at the table and seeing people who were free enough to not--he didn't necessarily know what he said was racist, but he was very clear about the reason he wanted Yao Ming as opposed to another player because he wasn't a thug and, therefore, in his mind, this other player must have been a thug because they had tattoos. That was the kind of attitude that too often permeated some of the decision making, and most of the time I spoke up, which is probably why I didn't get promoted as fast as I wanted to (laughter).$Now what, what about academic interests. What were you good at? Were you on the English, literature side or were you on the, were you on the math and science side? What were you--$$Ironically, I was better at math than English. I mean, I wasn't bad at English, but I was pretty good at math, but I had no interest in pursuing any kind of career that was math oriented. And I mean, and I do believe that God leads you in certain directions, and I clearly had an affinity for writing. I was editor of the junior high paper [at George Washington Carver Junior High School; George Washington Carver Middle School, Tulsa, Oklahoma] and became editor of the high school paper [at Holland Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma]. And while there was no real path, at least in my mind, for African Americans in that vocation, it was clearly something that I liked to do and seemed to have a bit of a gift for it. What I wanted to do was to be an attorney. You know, that was something that was real. I mean, there were black attorneys on Wall Street. And my icon was Perry Mason. That's who I was going to be. I was going to go off to school--I used to watch Perry Mason, dude never lost a case. I was going to be that guy who got up in the courtroom and, you know, sifted through all of the madness to find out the truth. So I went off to college [Stanford University, Stanford, California] to major in political science with the hope and desire of becoming an attorney. God had other ideas.