Community Spirit--Van Johnson

Van Johnson
Van Johnson

We've all known people who "have too many irons in the fire." Some warn that could mean you don't do anything really well. But then there's the exception. Van Johnson is a Savannah city councilman, radio talk show host, newspaper columnist and Chatham County employee.

As the host of Open Line Outreach for the last seven years, Van has been a source the community's come to depend on. He's never backed away from any issue, no matter how controversial.

"I think too often the media, especially the radio, they deal with so much bump, bump, bump of the music, but when it's over, people still have to eat, live and make a decent wage," he said.

It doesn't stop on the radio. Van also tells it like it is in the Savannah Tribune, in his weekly column "As Van Sees It."

Van's also an accomplished musician. He started playing the piano 20 years ago. "I started paying because this guy who played the piano took my girlfriend because she could sing. I just vowed he couldn't beat me like that."

He's held onto that competitive spirit all of his life. And he tries to instill it in the young people he works with on the Chatham County Youth Commission, a program nationally recognized as a model of youth empowerment.

Van does his part to make sure they're exposed to everything they need to become productive leaders. "I think about throughout my life, there were people who touched my life and helped me to be assertive, helped me to take charge and not be a victim but to be victorious. And when you see children who have done that and you feel like you've been a partner in that, it's really a wonderful feeling."

And that's how Van Johnson captures the WTOC Community Spirit.

By the way, Van also believes in keeping his constituents up to date. He just recently launched a very informative website at

Questions or comments concerning WTOC Community Spirit should be directed to Dawn Baker,