MISSOULA - Wednesday marked the end of an era in the Missoula radio world, as The Trail 103.3's Craig Johnson retires.
Craig was surrounded by family, close friends and some surprise guests as he celebrated more than 40 years in the radio business, most recently as the host of the Morning Trail show with Missoula Broadcasting Company.
Wednesday morning was full of stories and memories from Craig and pals.
Craig recounted growing up around the entertainment industry, as his father was a radio and television broadcaster. Two of his three brothers also had careers in radio. One of those brothers, Jerry, made a surprise visit from the Midwest to celebrate with Craig.
As he reflected on all of the different cities he's worked in, he said Missoula was always where he was meant to be.
"Lemon, South Dakota to Millbank, South Dakota to Pierce, South Dakota to Valley City, North Dakota to Missoula, Montana to Bozeman, Montana to Tallahassee, Florida, back to Missoula, Montana, back to Bozeman, Montana to Spokane, Washington, to Minneapolis, Minnesota back to Spokane, Washington to Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon and in 1992 back to where I belonged the whole time, which was Missoula, Montana,” he said.
Former co-host and longtime friend Allen "Al K" Kessler also stopped by Wednesday for old times’ sake. Craig said Al has always been one-of-a-kind, both on and off the air.
"Half of my career has been with him. He's probably the most genuine, because what you experience when you listen to him on the radio you will also experience if you just know him in private,” said the former co-host, Allen Kessler.
As Craig neared the end of his last show, he said he was blown away at how much he'll miss coming into his studio every day and spending his mornings with the people and music of Missoula.
"To have been part of the fabric of this community, when I say community I mean Western Montana, to have had the opportunity to been part of this community for so long and to have people expressing that to me is kind of overwhelming," he said. "I have to stop myself from being a smart aleck about it. But it means the world to me."
Craig will spend the next six weeks traveling with his wife. When he returns to the Garden City he's looking to focus on his hobby - welding.