Forsyth kid battling brain cancer becomes a radio star

Forsyth child battling cancer becomes guest DJ

Jamarion Johnson, 11, became a guest DJ at 97.9, WIBB, in December.
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Jamarion Johnson, 11, became a guest DJ at 97.9, WIBB, in December.

When Jamarion Johnson arrived at the iHeartRadio building in Macon on Thursday, he was taken aback when he saw one of his favorite DJs.

“Ooooh, that’s DJ Smooth. I want to get a picture with him,” exclaimed the 11-year-old. Jamarion, who has battled brain cancer since September 2014, was invited to the station for a special belated Christmas present: becoming a radio star for the day as a guest DJ on WIBB 97.9’s afternoon show.

Jamarion frequently listens to music, whether it’s on the radio or through devices such as his iPad. He was excited about the chance to visit the station, his mother, Tatrabianne Davis, said.

“He was like, ‘What are we going to do?’ ” she said. “I said, ‘I believe you’re going to be a DJ’ and he said, ‘Ohhh man.’ When he’s happy, I’m happy. When people come around and show love like this, I really appreciate it.”

Jamarion and his mother were joined at the station by his twin brother, sister, cousin and grandmother. A large group of other guests, including other kids, showed up to support Jamarion and offer words of encouragement.

Jamarion played some of his favorite songs, such as Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” and added in some sounds through a mixing board. He smiled when DJ Smooth “negotiated” a rate of $100 per performance when Jamarion DJ’s at events. Tex James, the afternoon show’s host, gave Jamarion the moniker of “DJ GQ,” but once on air Jamarion proclaimed himself as DJ Smooth, drawing laughter from people gathered in the studio.

He also received gifts of footballs, custom-made T-shirts of his favorite NFL teams the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, and was presented a key to Macon-Bibb County by Commissioner Al Tillman.

The key is able to open any door in Macon, just as Jamarion has the “key to our hearts,” Tillman said.

The day was planned by Shirley Ellis, known as Mama Mia while hosting weekend shows on WRVB V101.7. She met Jamarion through Joshua’s Wish, an agency that raises money for medical research on pediatric brain tumors. She invited him to the station after learning about his love of music.

“The look on his face, he just seemed so happy and so excited,” said Ellis, who is also station manager for Fort Valley State University’s TV and radio stations. “I know he’s going through a lot but he was happy today.”

Jamarion struggles to walk now and receives hospice care, but that hasn’t dampened his spirits. The glioblastoma tumor has re-emerged to a point where doctors say they’re unable to remove it.

Jamarion’s always been a child who wants to help out anyway he can whether it’s taking out the trash or cleaning up, his mother said.

He now spends much of his day inside watching his favorite TV shows “Martin” and “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and, of course, listening to music.

“We try to take it one day at a time,” Davis said. “We appreciate all the support, the prayers, the love everyone sends us. We’re just hoping for a miracle.”

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph