William “Cody” Anderson, who was a local broadcast legend and pioneer, passed away on Saturday February 20, 2021. He was 78 years old.
Anderson arrived in Philadelphia from Chicago in 1965. After arriving, he began a career in broadcasting that would last 50 years. He started in the sales department of WDAS Radio and quickly rose through the management ranks to become deputy general manager, general manager and eventually president.
Anderson’s love for music and his unwavering commitment to giving a voice to the voiceless made it an incredible combination. During a time of civil unrest and conflict in Philadelphia, Anderson helped create an outlet for the city’s communities. He was the originator of WDAS Unity Day which, at its peak, brought together hundreds and thousands of people to celebrate.
In 1989, Anderson fulfilled his dream of owning a radio station by purchasing the iconic WHAT radio. He created an African-American talk radio format that raised the voices of Philadelphia legends Mary Mason and Georgie Woods, and helped launch Iyanla Vanzant’s career. He is credited with bringing the voices of the individuals and communities of the city to the fore because he believed that no voice is special until it is heard.
His latest foray into broadcasting was the general manager of WURD 900 AM / 96.1 FM, a station owned by the late Dr. Walter Lomax. Anderson helped establish the station’s black conversation format, which continues to be the lifeblood of the station.
Anderson was the co-host of “The Electric Magazine” with Vikki Leach on Saturday morning. He was the co-host of bi-monthly Saturday morning shows with City Council Chairman Darrell Clarke and Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite. He also hosted the weekly show Laborers Live every Friday.
On December 4, WURD honored Anderson in a three-hour celebration at its annual Empowerment Expo.
A statement from WURD President and CEO Sara Lomax-Reese regarding Anderson clearly underscores his efforts at the station.
“It is with a heavy heart that we recognize the passing of radio icon Cody Anderson. According to his family, he passed away peacefully on Saturday evening. Cody has been instrumental in breathing life into and guiding WURD for nearly 20 years, first as a CEO and more recently as a host, mentor and beloved friend, ”said Lomax -Reese.
“Like his birth family, he will be deeply missed by the WURD family. But we are grateful to him for his tireless and generous support for the independent black media, which he has championed every day of his life, especially through his advocacy for WURD radio.
In 2000, Anderson founded ACG Associates, a consulting firm he ran with his sons Bill and Kyle. He emphasized empowering and informing people in his work at ACG and continued as a director of the company until the time of his death.
Former WDAS radio personality Jerry Wells remembers Anderson’s vision, leadership, guidance and direction he provided to staff during his days at the station. Under Anderson’s tutelage, Wells had one of the most successful morning shows in town.
“Cody has always been a very open, very tolerant, very human person from the start,” said Wells, who had a very popular radio station called “Morning Party” on WDAS FM (1974-86). “He put me in the news department, where I was there for nine months, then Rod Carson’s departure from WDAS FM. He went to the WMMR.
“He and Butterball (WDAS radio legend Joe Tamburro) called me up and said they were giving me his program. The Morning Show 6-10 on WDAS FM. I did this program until 1986. During this time Cody impressed me with his character as a community oriented person and how he took to heart the best interests of our audience and the needs of our community. audience in the black community.
“He often told me that in Philadelphia black people only had two (radio) stations and that was us and WHAT at the time. We therefore have more work to do than other stations can specialize in certain audiences. We must serve whole families, several generations, and we must bring a lot to our community which has so many needs. We were more of a family than a staff. He was more of a mentor and a friend than a boss.
Philadelphia City Council member Kenyatta Johnson recalled Anderson’s contributions as a broadcast legend and family man.
“As a longtime leader of radio stations WDAS and WURD, he was an icon in the African-American press. He always spoke the truth in power. I will also remember Cody as a wonderful father and family who was a role model for other fathers like me, ”Johnson said in a statement. “He is a pillar of the black community and his legacy and impact in the lives of Philadelphians will last forever.”
As well as being a Philadelphia radio legend, Anderson was an outstanding basketball player. He was the captain of the Chicago Carver High School basketball team and led the team to several championships. His basketball skills earned him a full scholarship to Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he met and fell in love with his wife, Verna.
He was a star goalie on the Central State University basketball team from 1964 to 1965. Anderson led the Marauders to an NAIA championship and an unbeaten season. The team has been inducted into both the Central State Hall of Fame and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1991 Anderson was inducted into the Central State Hall of Fame
Anderson was born in Denison, Texas on February 25, 1942. He was raised in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in public housing with his parents the late Bernice and William Anderson, and his sisters Loretta, Barbara and Carol.
Anderson is survived by his wife Verna, his children, Kyle, Bill and Theresa, his sisters Loretta, Barbara and Carol, his nieces Denise, Karen, Dana and his nephew Kevin, as well as countless friends. He was a 33rd degree Mason in the Masonic Lodge at Prince Hall and a long-time member of the Canaan Baptist Church family.
In a family statement, “Obituaries often talk about a person’s accomplishments, but our family wants you to know who our father was. He was a kind man with a gentle, compassionate mind. He was a devoted and faithful friend, always available and fully present in his friendships. He was a man of unwavering faith in God and always saw the best in people. He was funny, creative, intelligent and generous. His love for his family was only surpassed by our love for him.