Community activist and radio host Gerard “Jerry” Phillips died recently at age 75.
Community activist and radio host Gerard “Jerry” Phillips died recently at age 75. A fixture in D.C. media for more than 50 years, Phillips created D.C. Metro Talk blog and was seen on “Reporters Notebook,” a local news public affairs program on Channel 4/WRC and hosted WHUR, 96.3 FM’s morning show in the 1970s and 1980s.
A fifth-generation Washingtonian, Phillips spent more than 50 years broadcasting in the Washington, D.C. market, receiving over 125 community and professional awards. A member in the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame for Communications – inducted in 2004 – Phillips is the former public affairs director for Clear Channel Radio’s eight local stations. He has worked with Howard University Radio, Bonneville Radio, the Associated Press local radio-desk and United Broadcasting.
Mayor Vincent Gray, in a statement offering his condolences, remembered Phillips as a “dedicated journalist and public affairs mentor, as well as a tireless advocate for our city’s downtrodden, oppressed, and disadvantaged.”
WRC-TV News 4 anchor Doreen Gentzler remembered Phillips in an on-air announcement as “kind, generous, and joyful.”
“There was nothing greater than walking into the makeup room on a Thursday morning and being enveloped by Jerry’s exuberant spirit. We were so very lucky to have known him,” Gentzler said.
For Diane L. Johnson, Phillips’ friend for more than 40 years, his spirit of altruism is what made him dear to those around him. “He was a teacher and he loved to teach young people. I was one of the fortunate young people back in his early days at WHUR, where he had a show The People’s Platform. I was his production assistant on that program. What Jerry taught me most of all was the importance of loving your craft and making sure you were the best you could possibly be at your craft,” Johnson said.
Phillips, reared Catholic and received Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church at Saint Augustine’s parish and school, was knighted in 2010 as Knight of Mount Saint Sepulchre. Phillips’ desire to teach was evident in his work with Mount Sepulchre, located in Northeast, where he took great pride in educating and serving visitors to the Franciscan Monastery.
Phillips served on the board of directors for Catholic Charities, Providence Hospital, and the March of Dimes of the National Capital Area. He received a White House Citation from President Carter and was awarded the Freedom Journal Award for community journalism. Phillips was honored with the most Distinguished Public Service Award for the City of Washington in 1981.
Funeral services for Phillips will be held 11 a.m. Sept. 6 at the Franciscan Monastery, 1400 Quincy St. Northeast.