By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
Patrick Ellis, 77, who hosted 96.3 WHUR– FM’s “Gospel Spirit Show” for more than 40 years, died on July 16 from complications due to COVID-19.
The longtime broadcaster had been in the hospital since last month for treatment of coronavirus, however WHUR sorrowfully announced his passing on July 17.
“We had been praying for and hoping for a different outcome and are sad to report the passing of our beloved colleague and friend,” said WHUR General Manger Sean Platter.
For many in the D.M.V., Ellis was a Sunday staple, having hosted his morning show from 6 a.m.- 11 a.m. since 1979. With his incorporation of church updates, birthday and anniversary celebrations and five hours of uplifting Gospel music, many looked forward to Ellis’ radio program as a strong source of news and inspiration.
This reporter- a lifelong avid listener – can remember tuning in every Sunday in the car with her parents headed to church. Although he lives in Medellin, Colombia now, this reporter’s father, Michael Green, still tuned in every weekend for a healthy dose of spirituality, news, Gospel music and Black American culture.
“Being in another country listening to WHUR connects me to home- and my main programs are Saturday with Mr. C and the “Time Tunnel” and Sunday mornings with Patrick Ellis. I looked to him for my news and religion and would listen to the Rankin chapel service following the Patrick Ellis program,” Green said.
“Patrick Ellis was major for me. He’s going to be really missed,” Green added. “That’s my media connection (other than you at the AFRO) to the U.S., to religion, and faith- listening to his program.”
Trained in classical and Gospel music, performer and preacher’s kid Hilary Daniel shared why Ellis was so instrumental in her upbringing, spiritual journey and love of music. “Growing up, my favorite song was “Order My Steps” by GMWA [Women of Worship] and Mr. Ellis played it every week for at least three years of my life that I can remember,” Daniel told the AFRO.
“I looked forward to Sunday, just to be able to listen to his radio show as we got dressed for church in the mornings, followed by a car concert with my mother and I on the way to church,” Daniel added. “Sunday mornings will never be the same without hearing his warm voice over the air waves.”
According to WHUR, in addition to broadcasting, Ellis’ philanthropic efforts at the radio station and in the D.M.V. area helped feed thousands, provided care for substance-addicted babies and aided in building a shelter for domestic violence survivors and their children.
“Patrick was part of the backbone of this station and community. Like so many, our hearts are heavy. We send our condolences out to his immediate family and to all those who were touched by him over the years through the airwaves on Sunday morning,” Platter said.
People can send condolences to his family to WHUR, 529 Bryant Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20059 or call the Patrick Ellis Tribute Line at 202-750-4924.