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Local DJ Dies of COVID-19; 'Midnight Johnny' Remembered For Love for Motown

Bob Seay
John Perrone in an undated photograph.

A local radio DJ in his 70s has died of COVID-19.


John Perrone, of Provincetown, succumbed to the virus over the weekend at Cape Cod Hospital, according to WOMR, a local community radio station, based on information from Perrone’s cousin.


The Navy-veteran-turned-volunteer-DJ is remembered for his love of Motown and soul music, which he played on WOMR Tuesday nights for the last 20 years. 

John Braden, executive director at WOMR, said his late friend’s death gave him a “change of heart” about how dangerous he considered the virus. 

“It didn’t occur to me until…,” he said, trailing off, “that people are dying. When somebody who’s part of your family, really—someone who’s part of your circle of friends—dies, there’s a certain reality that becomes more acute.”


“They’re numbers when you hear it on TV or on the radio,” Braden said, “but they’re faces when it happens to a family member.” 


Braden was unsure how long Perrone had been ill, or how his friend contracted the virus. The radio executive received a call on Sunday from Perrone’s cousin, who explained what happened.

“He got sick; he got sicker; he got tested; it was positive. And it got to the point where she tried to call him on the phone and he just kept repeating, ‘I can’t. I can’t talk.’” 


Perrone’s cousin, Braden said, resisted visiting him to avoid contracting the virus. Then she got a call. 


“The next thing she heard was from a doctor at Cape Cod Hospital,” Braden said.

No services have been scheduled yet, but the station hopes to plan a memorial for Perrone once it’s safe to gather again. 


And what music might Midnight Johnny, as he was known, want to hear at a time like this?


“I suppose Stevie Wonder,” Braden said. “That would be a good place to start.” 

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.