Kernie L. Anderson, 74, of Philadelphia, a huge name in African American media in the region, died Saturday, Dec. 20.
Mr. Anderson, an executive at WDAS-AM/FM, WHAT-AM, and WURD-AM, was known for his precision and control in business affairs, his commitment to African American media, and his ability to turn things around for ailing media venues.
"He was a very meticulous businessman," said Karen Warrington, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Robert Brady (D., Pa.), "and many times was brought in to radio stations when they were experiencing economic hard times. Since he was such a good manager, he was often able to put them in the black."
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) called Mr. Anderson "a giant in the radio industry. He was an authentic advocate for African American communities and their economic interests, especially in the communication sector. His successful leadership as general manager at WDAS-AM/FM and WURD-AM enhanced radio in Philadelphia. . . . He leaves a legacy of influence and excellence and will be greatly missed by all who knew him."
Born in Harrisburg, Mr. Anderson attended Howard University. His radio career began in 1963 in Washington, notably at WQMR-AM/WGAY-FM, where he worked his way up from messenger to producer/marketing assistant in just a few years. After a stint in the Army, he moved to Florida in 1968, becoming general manager/managing partner of WOCN-AM/FM.
In Florida, he met and hired the young Larry King.
"I loved working with him and I'm terribly sorry to learn of his death," King, the longtime radio and TV host, said Wednesday through a publicist. He recalled Mr. Anderson as "a great, great guy."
In 1981, Mr. Anderson came to Chicago to manage WBMX-FM/AM. "He was proudest of his experience in Chicago," Warrington said, "when Harold Washington ran, and Anderson saw black radio as a tool for information and advocacy to support the election of a black mayor. He always saw the importance of African American-owned media, especially radio and the community impact it could have."
In Philadelphia, he became vice president/general manager of WDAS in 1988, shortly after the station was sold. It was a time when the station was struggling over audience and identity. He was widely credited with a back-to basics approach that made the station financially strong again. Later, Mr. Anderson became general manager of WURD, remaining in that post until 2010, when he joined the station's board of directors.
A member of civic groups ranging from the Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League to various media organizations, he showed a sense of civic engagement as committed as his engagement to urban radio.
Nancy Gilboy, president and CEO of Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia, said Mr. Anderson "would do anything he could to make Philadelphia look good so the State Department would send us more delegations. He never turned us down when professional counterparts from radio stations in other countries wanted to see an American station," often hosting "informal yet elegant dinners for large groups" at his house.
Anderson married Althmeana C. Coachman in 1973; she died in 2005. He is survived by their daughter, Shama. Information on services was not available.