Jim Johnson was born March 10, 1928, in Davenport, Nebraska. He received a bachelor's degree in speech and radio in 1953 and a master's degree in extension administration in 1964, both from Washington State University. He served as radio-television specialist at the University of Idaho from 1962 to 1964, and in the same position at Washington State University from 1964 to 1967.
He returned to Idaho in 1967, to become head of the agricultural information department, and in 1971, returned to Washington State as head of their agricultural information department. He went to the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1974 to become head of its radio service, and was later named chief of radio and television.
He is a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and received their meritorious service award in 1986.
Johnson retired in 1988 and returned to the Pacific Northwest to settle in Salem, Oregon. In retirement, he works on newsletters for the American Red Cross, the Salem Area Garden Club and Grosvenor Books, Inc., a publishing arm for Moral Rearmament.