In 1973, she was hired at WFAA in Dallas and debuted as a weekend news anchor in May of that year. In 1975, she was teamed with a fellow reporter named Tracy Rowlett and together they began a ten-year run as co-anchors of the 6 and 10 pm newscasts. Within the first year, the new anchor team catapulted to number one in the ratings. It was the most successful news teams in Dallas-Fort Worth television history. Johnson remained at WFAA-TV for more than 12 years.
In 1985, Johnson left her anchor position with WFAA-TV to start her own business. (Her last night on WFAA-TV being March 2, 1985.) Iola's second anchor stint was with KTVI in St. Louis. Her co-anchor was Kevin Cokely, who currently works at the NBC owned and operated station in Dallas. After working for a short time in St. Louis, she returned to Dallas to work as the managing editor and news reporter for a morning show on KKDA AM radio.
In September 2000, Johnson chose to return to television news to help launch a new hour-long newscast at 4 pm on KTVT CBS 11 in Dallas-Fort Worth with longtime friend and former WFAA colleague Tracy Rowlett. After two years, Tracy and Iola left the 4pm newscast when it was cancelled. In 2012, television came calling again and she was hired as a television contributor for The Texas Daily news program on KTXD, an independent station in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. There, she was teamed with former WFAA anchors Jeff Brady, Tracy Rowlett, John Criswell, Phyllis Watson, Midge Hill, Debbie Denmon, and Troy Dungan.
- "Iola Vivian Johnson" in Who's Who Among African Americans, 23rd edition Gale, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- Bark, Ed (August 28, 2008). "Iola Johnson: leaving for parts unknown". Uncle Barky's Bytes. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
- "Iola Johnson Biography". The History Makers. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
- "Dallas-Fort Worth TV newswoman Iola Johnson to be honored as trailblazer". Dallas News. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
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