Sports Speaker Ernie Johnson has earned a following as a noted basketball-analyst and broadcaster on Turner Network’s Inside the NBA, alongside Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal. Ernie found his start as sports director for the Atlanta, Georgia radio station, WAGQ-FM in 1977, before moving on to broadcasting in 1979, working as a news anchor for WMAZ-TV in Macon, Georgia.
After moving to Spartanburg, South Carolina, Ernie worked as a news reporter for WSPA-TV. Then in 1982, Ernie returned to Georgia, becoming a general assignments news reporter for Atlanta’s WSB-TV and later the weekend sports anchor. In 1993, Ernie also worked alongside his father, former Atlanta Braves pitcher and play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson Sr., calling Braves games for SportSouth until 1996. Achieving a notable amount of fame, Ernie soon received an offer from Turner Network to cover the NBA.
Ernie was given a quirky segment on Inside the NBA called “E.J.’s Neat-O Stat of the Night,” where he offers the audience a variety of peculiar statistics about the NBA. The segment also garnered a reputation for never having a concrete sponsor, displaying a “Your Logo Here” advertisement up until May 2007 when Vitamin Water decided to sponsor Ernie’s stats.
As an announcer and analyst, Ernie has covered a whole host of other sporting events outside of NBA games, including PGA tours, the FIFA World Cup, and NFL and MLB games. In 2002, Ernie tied with Bob Costas for an Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio Host Emmy. The following year, Ernie won the award outright, breaking Bob’s six-year run.
Tragedy struck in 2003 when Sports Speaker Ernie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Never one to quit, Ernie continued working up until June 2006 when he began chemotherapy and his battle with cancer. With the support of his wife Cheryl and their six children, Ernie returned to Inside the NBA in October of that same year, while continuing treatment. In 2015, Ernie won his third Sports Emmy for Best Studio Host, but he graciously forfeited to the late Stuart Scott, who died in January 2015; Scott’s daughters accepted the award.