Philadelphia radio legend Cody Anderson has died.
Anderson was the first general manager of WURD, the only African-American-owned and operated talk radio station in Pennsylvania. He most recently co-hosted “The Electric Magazine” with Vikki Leach on Saturday mornings on WURD 96.1FM/900 AM.
"Cody was instrumental in breathing life into WURD and shepherding it over our almost 20 years, first as General Manager and most recently as a beloved host, mentor and friend," WURD President and CEO Sara Lomax-Reese said in a statement. "Like his biological family, the WURD family will miss him deeply. But we are grateful for his tireless and generous support of independent Black media, which he championed every day of his life, especially through his advocacy of WURD Radio."
A former owner of WHAT 1340 AM and general manager and president of WDAS 105.3 FM, Anderson touched the hearts and lives of many in the Philadelphia region.
“Cody was a pioneer and giant in broadcast journalism in the Black community in Philadelphia for decades. He was a consistent, constructive, confident, voice on the air. He encouraged persons of color to enter politics, to serve people, and make their communities better places to live,” said City Council President Darrell L. Clarke via Twitter after learning of Anderson’s passing. “A symbol of positivity, class and achievement for our community is gone. It is on us now to carry on in his memory and in service to others. Rest in Power, my good friend.”
After getting his break in the radio industry as an account executive for WDAS, Anderson later managed the station during what some would call their heyday. He worked with personalities such as Jimmy Bishop, Georgie Woods and Joseph “Butterball” Tamburro. Anderson became a leader in broadcast and the community.
WURD honored Anderson during their annual Empowerment Expo in December. “WURD was his home. WURD was his family,” his oldest son, Kyle Anderson, told the Philadelphia Sunday Sun.
Lomax-Reese said that it was a caller’s idea to give Anderson his roses while he was still there. It was also during the Empowerment Expo that Iyanla Vanzant, known for her “Fix My Life” series on OWN, revealed that Anderson gave her a start in radio at WHAT. Vanzant said that Anderson’s personality and friendship inspired her to be a better person.
Those sentiments were shared by many who knew and worked with Anderson through the years.
"Everybody loved Cody," said Donna Clark, Director of Communications and Special Projects for the Philadelphia Tribune. Clark worked for Anderson at WHAT for 12 years when Anderson was the owner, president and general manager of the station.
"I remember once we were making a sales call to Strawbridge and Clothier," Clark said. "We were waiting for the elevator to take us to the executive offices and all of a sudden we were surrounded by people asking for his autograph. There must have been 20 or 30 people shouting his name. Unbeknownst to me, I was with a celebrity. He was so kind to each of them. I asked him if he knew any of those people, he said 'they are people from our community.' He laughed and said, 'if you stay in this business you will have people shouting your name too.' Cody was a kind and gentle man. His kindness will be missed.”
Though he has referred to himself as someone from outside, Anderson found himself in the heartbeat of Philadelphia. Becoming one of its most trusted figures and household names in the African-American community.
“Cody Anderson had been a big part of my life,” said Vincent Thompson, president of Mediaman Communications, who worked with Anderson for years at WDAS and WURD. “He has been a mentor, a friend, somebody you can always bounce ideas off. He would tell you if you weren’t doing what you needed to do to succeed and as far as Black people in this country who have had an impact on radio, Cody is right up there,” he said. “If there were a Mount Rushmore of Black folks in radio, Cody would be right up there.”
Anderson was also instrumental in starting the Unity Day event that WDAS put on for many years in Philadelphia.
“We wanted to put on an event that would bring political leaders together with the community. Where they would have the chance to interact with them in a fun environment. So, we decided to do it and call it Unity Day,” Anderson told WDAS Insight host Loraine Ballard-Morrill recently during an interview celebrating WDAS’ 70 years in radio.
When asked what he thought would be his legacy, Anderson responded, “I would imagine the commitment to the community.”
Anderson said he believed that no voice is special until it has been heard. He will be remembered for allowing people that had no voice to have a voice.
Anderson leaves behind his wife Verna, daughter Theresa and sons Bill and Kyle.