A lifelong music fanatic, Magnus’s taste was as diverse as it was in all of his creative domains. Indeed, his lifelong work as a DJ provided the evolving soundtrack to his unique artistic vision. By the very early 1980s, Magnus was a college radio host in Boston and was producing popular and forward-thinking African and Reggae shows on MIT’s WMBR 88.1 FM in Cambridge – “Aliens’ Corner” and “Reggae Mukasa” – years before “world music” became a popular term.
An immediate acolyte of hip-hop music and culture, by 1986 Magnus started the now-legendary “rap and electro” radio program called “Lecco’s Lemma,” on WMBR. A year later he moved the show to Boston College’s WZBC 90.3 FM, where it ran until 1988. As The Noise magazine said in 1987: “Magnus Johnstone is a DJ at the front of a movement, in it for sheer love of its excitement and possibilities.”
In the early 1990s, he was producing two weekly radio shows, “Mecca,” which was “an exploration of music of the Arab world” as well as a new version of the “Aliens’ Corner” show which featured “pan-African music.” After a brief hiatus from radio as he dealt with several health issues – which he battled with vigor and determination, beating leukemia in the mid-‘90s – Magnus returned to the airwaves by the late ‘90s on WZBC with “The Dub Hop” show. Relocating to Maine in 2000 with his life partner Mango, he continued to paint and work in radio, hosting weekly shows including “The Matrix” and “Da Vibes” on WERU, a community station in Orland, ME.
Magnus Johnstone passed away from cancer on February 22, 2013, after a vibrant life filled with art, music and community. His friends and family will always remember him as a compassionate and creative soul, a visionary artist and a music fan who was constantly in search of his next muse.
For more information on Magnus Johnstone’s life and Visual Art, visit: