Larry Johnson, Host of WFMT’s ‘Arias and Songs’ Has Died at Age 72

By Robbie Ellis and Keegan Morris |

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Larry Johnson with his extensive record collection

Larry Johnson, the host of WFMT’s Arias and Songs, died over the weekend in his home on Chicago’s North Side. He was 72 years old. He leaves behind a brother, Alan Johnson, and a cousin, Lynn Newhart.

Larry had a business career in the textile industry but was always an avid music lover and record collector.

He joined WFMT as a part-time presenter in the 1990s and hosted over 360 episodes of Arias and Songs, a Saturday afternoon program that features a wide variety of singing: not just opera and art song, but also early music, musical theater, and pop music. In 2018 he donated his record collection of more than 5,000 items to the DePaul University School of Music.

Regarding his donation, Larry declared, “It’s my pleasure knowing that as the years go on, people I will never meet and people I will never know will hopefully derive some degree of enjoyment and education from this record collection.”

He will be missed by all of his colleagues here at WFMT.