Robert W. Johnson: A man on a mission
Robert W. Johnson, Sr., who went home to be with the Lord on August 5, 2004, started developing the concept for Sky Angel in 1980. Back then Johnson felt the Lord had impressed upon him the need for a Christian-owned and -controlled multi-channel television service capable of bypassing the “secular electronic media gatekeepers.”
At the same time, a new technology – still in its experimental stage – known as high-power direct broadcast satellite (DBS) was emerging. A former university educator, market research firm owner and father of four, Johnson saw DBS as a means to delivering multiple channels of Christian and family programming and the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to the masses. Sky Angel would be an instrument to unify the Body of Christ, to equip believers to fulfill the Great Commission and to evangelize the unbeliever. It would also be a way to provide a wholesome television environment for families as a lot of secular mainstream TV moved further and further away from programming suitable for family viewing.
Truly a pioneer and visionary, Johnson was part of the initial round of high-power DBS license applicants in 1981. The second company to apply, his was among the first nine companies to receive a construction permit and launch authority from the Federal Communications Commission for a high-power DBS service in 1984. Eventually, his company would become the last remaining survivor of that pioneering group.
Obeying God’s calling
In 1977, Johnson accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Out of a sense of “restlessness” – a desire for the Lord to use his life for something other than worldly pursuits and success – he eventually resigned from his successful market research business and accepted a position as president-elect of CBN-Continental. However, the Lord immediately began showing Johnson that the traditional way Christian broadcasters were trying to get their message out, by purchasing airtime on secular-owned and -controlled networks and cable systems, was creating a dependency upon and an entrustment of the Gospel to these “secular electronic media gatekeepers” who had the ability to censor and exclude programming proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 1980, while Johnson was reading an article about an emerging technology called high-power direct broadcast satellite, he saw it as a magnificent tool of its time that Christians could use to distribute the Gospel electronically, by-passing the commercial secular-owned media gatekeepers.
With little more than his faith, Johnson formed his corporation and applied to the FCC for a DBS license alongside some of the world’s biggest corporate names, including CBS, RCA and Western Union. Four years later in 1984, Johnson was awarded a construction permit and launch authority from the FCC to establish a high-power DBS service – the only one with a Christian mission and purpose.
It took many years of struggle, trials and disappointments as Johnson traveled the country sharing the Sky Angel vision with Christian leaders. In order to accelerate entry into the DBS market, during the mid-1990s Dominion formed a technical agreement with EchoStar Communications Corporation (DISH™ Network) where Dominion co-located its FCC-licensed DBS frequencies and channels on the same DBS satellite carrying some of DISH Network’s FCC-licensed DBS frequencies and channels. Finally, on December 10, 1996, Sky Angel went on the air.
Sky Angel was a calling from the Lord on Johnson’s life and one from which he never wavered, steadfast in his obedience to that calling.
The Next Frontier
The Sky Angel mission continues today under the leadership of Johnson’s son, Rob Johnson, CEO, Sky Angel offers three unique television networks that air exclusively on DISH Network: Angel One, Angel Two and KTV. To request more information about Sky Angel, click here.