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Farewell Peter Johns, The Radio Driver

Written By Shau Mudekunye May, 11 2020
Farewell Peter Johns, The Radio Driver

There was no car or home in the 90’s that never heard the skilful set of Radio 3 DJ, Peter Johns.

Affectionately known as PJ, Your DJ or The Radio Driver, his death marks the end of an era of radio. He remains etched in Zimbabwean memories for time to come. Here is the story of our most beloved Peter Johns.


Early Life

At the age of 20, PJ started out as a club DJ in a local Harare nightspot- Scamps. His mixing prowess and ear for music saw him gain popularity and earn himself a residency in the club on Friday and Saturday nights. PJ made a business of himself and within no time was one of Zimbabwe’s most sought after event DJ’s. Along his journey, he caught the eye of John Matinde, the recruitment manager at ZBC. 


Radio 3

PJ our DJ started with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation as a Sunday night host in 1981. It was not long before his superiors noticed his skill and he slowly took over prime time radio slots. Johns was most well known for his shows:  Weekend Love, Mellow Madness and of course, the most anticipated weekly  Hitsville Top 20 countdown. To top it off,  he was one of the first DJ’s in Zimbabwe to get international artists to do radio drops, revolutionizing the whole game. A true radio professional, PJ is lauded with pioneering interactive radio, and if anyone ever called into Midday Jam, they would know why. Everyone- young and old could call in and leave a quick message for a loved one. His name became a household brand and very few people did not know, Peter Johns.  Young and old voices were heard through the show, with only the most up to date RnB and Hip Hop beaming from the speakers. 



In addition to Radio, Johns enjoyed some fame as the host of the weekly music show, Coca-Cola on the Beat. Without a doubt, his upbeat demeanour, charming and friendly voice and professional presentation skills, made him an asset. 


Moving to the UK

Due to the restructuring of all radio stations in 2002, PJ left Radio 3, devastating fans. PJ expanded his pastures to the United Kingdom where he undertook further studies in Digital Broadcasting and Packaging. Peter continued as a professional DJ until the time of his death, the 27th of April, 2020. 


Life after PJ

On Saturday the 2nd of May, 2020, Star FM, ZIFM and Power FM the three biggest radio stations in Zimbabwe came together to simultaneously broadcast one show in tribute to Peter Johns. An unprecedented moment in Zimbabwe that is befitting of a DJ that gave so much to the industry in Zimbabwe. For a full hour, listeners were able to hear tributes from all the DJ’s around the world. The special included snippets of his shows and songs he was famous for playing while he was a DJ. 


Thank you for all you gave us PJ our DJ. There is no 80’s and 90’s Zimbabwean radio without your name front and centre.  We salute you and we celebrate you.

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