Number 1 – Think about this for a second — William “Cody” Anderson from Chicago graduates from Central State University in Wilberforce Ohio where he stands out as an exceptional basketball player and athlete. Good enough to play pro ball in the mid 60’s. — Racial quotas being what they were at that time kept him from the league.
He winds up in Philadelphia and begins working at a bank. He then finds his way to a radio station run by a man named LeBaron Taylor. Under his tutelage he becomes a very good account executive and later on winds up managing the station. He then takes the station to number one In 1985 in the fifth largest market toppling the then ratings giant that was KYW news radio. Unheard of. Think of KYW as 6ABC Action News and you’ll get the point.
To put it mildly. this man took black music and Black people and black concerns to number 1 in Philadelphia. —
That stable of broadcasters, journalist engineers and staff would go on to change radio and influence the listeners in this town for decades. Some of those folks are still on the air today.
Others have passed on but not before they created a unique listening experience that touched our lives and is legendary till this day.
How many of us waited till midnight to [transition] with “Brown. in Space?” I know I did. Especially if I was in my car. I was ready to flash my headlights and look for others to do the same.
If there’s no Cody Anderson, there’s no Anthony Chocolate (Tony Brown) to do that.
Which brings me back to “Unity Day” — as I said Cody Anderson took a small staff idea for a picnic and turned it into a citywide phenomena. Long before there was Welcome America there was Unity Day. Arguably the largest community focused promotional event by any radio station in the country. A day for the entire city to come together and experience diversity of sound, music, people food and each other.
If you lived in Philadelphia you put the third weekend in August on your calendar because that was unity day weekend. It grew from one day to an entire weekend to a week long slew of events. And it all came about because of one man from Chicago’s vision of Bringing people together while promoting family and suggesting people “claim their culture“. That comment alone would later become a brand in itself for a period of time in Philadelphia’s black community. And that was the other thing Cody promoted. Being Pro-Black. He walked it, talked it and lived it.
What he cared about was bringing people together in a wholesome Afrocentric influenced family environment. He wanted to inspire black people and he wanted to serve. Money was never the main goal or focus.
The late Georgie Woods once told him that what they did wasn’t about the executives in the office… The people they worked for where the listeners. They were the ones that would make or break you. It was a lesson Cody took to heart and would never forget.
E. Steven Collins
Are just a few of the names and personalities Cody hired and worked with. The list is too long. The things that this man and the people he gave a platform to did could only be called miraculous.
The giants of broadcasting and politics that Cody Anderson inspired and influenced are legion and he did all of this In spite of obstacles that fortunately are no longer in the way today. Technology has changed and increased opportunities thanks to the Internet which was something that was barely a gleam in anyone’s eye then. Sure we take “streaming” for granted now and there is so much content to choose from. But what Cody was able to do in his time and space was make the best of the tools he had to work with and he did just that.
The All-Star softball team he put together for his radio stations were legendary. Pro basketball players, listeners, and radio personalities, together on one team playing softball and having a good time. Especially afterwards when it was time to sit around and Talk Trash while enjoying your favorite soft drink or adult beverage. Those games were legendary and still put a smile on my face.
William “Cody” Anderson gave me my start in Radio. – – We literally met on 54th and City Ave in front of the Nazarie Deli (The first Stop n Go in Philadelphia) and struck up a conversation. The next day I was on the air. It was as simple as that. He spotted and heard something in me and gave me an opportunity. And I’m pretty sure a happening like that is not exclusive to just me when it came to William Cody Anderson.
He changed talk radio in Philadelphia forever. He owned and managed WHAT radio, now know today as WURD which of course brought the world “Mornings with Mary hosted by MARY Mason There probably was never a more prominent or difficult personality to work with than the queen of talk radio. But Cody found a way. His always calm and cool demeanor was in contrast to Mary Masons bombastic and high spirited personality. If you were going to do black talk radio in this town you had to have Mary Mason. That’s just for starters.
There was Johnny Sample the great football defensive end who won a Super Bowl with Joe Namath. Nick Taliaferro, A pastor and velvet voice articulate gentle giant who increased your knowledge and vocabulary daily just by listening to him.
Richard Whiten. A gifted spiritual, biblical an astrological guide To human self improvement unlike any other.
Reggie Bryant, one of the founders of The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalist.
Dr. Lucille Ijoy family therapist., And of course Ilyanla Van Zandt who started her career with Cody at WHAT radio.
He took on controversial issues and never backed away from them. When Minister Louis Farrakhan came to down over a racial incident in Grays Ferry, the City of Philadelphia was up in arms. For days and weeks it was all people talked about on talk radio. Cody and his son would have dinner with Minister Farrakhan smoothing out all worries and concerns. I would later meet minister Farrakhan and his sons at the million man march because they remembered me and my association with Cody. He was a prince of a man and a king amongst men. And I’m not just talking [you know what] — He really was a King.
Cody Anderson was installed as a village elder in Ghana and was considered African royalty. That was another thing… From his FM radio days on to his talk radio days Cody Anderson took us with him to Africa more than once. We experienced Senegal and the door of no return through Cody’s trip to Africa. One of many. We experienced so much with Cody and that’s exactly what he wanted for all of us. The black experience. The best of the black experience.
Which you experienced every day walking into [any] of Cody’s Offices no matter where it was. — Cody‘s office was like a African cultural museum filled with artifacts from everywhere, or anyone of prominence that had to do with Africa. or being black. Every time you walked in his office you saw something new or different and there was a story behind every piece. —
One day I just happened to stop by the station and walked in his office (without knocking) as many of us would do on a whim on 54th and City Ave. where the WHAT Studios used to be and he told me to stick around for a second. But he wouldn’t tell me why. I would find out shortly it was because James Brown was stopping by to pay a visit and he wanted me to meet him. — Yeah that James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. The cool thing was they didn’t ask me to leave. I sat in Cody‘s office with him and James Brown for over an hour. I still think about that and shake my head in awe.
He would just be one of the many musical or political legends and Icons I would meet thanks to Cody Anderson. Which was another thing you could say about Cody. He never had a problem sharing the wealth. He wanted everybody to have the experience. He also believed in paying it forward.
Jerry Wells told me how Cody wouldn’t play certain music because like I said, he wanted to capture all the listeners he could without turning anyone off. And because there were a few mediums that Black people controlled, he didn’t want them tainted with anything negative because in his words we didn’t have that luxury. Unlike white stations you could hear every genre of music and entertainment good and bad. But Black people didn’t have the luxury of that many radio platforms so it was important that we use the few we had to always put forth and promote the best of us.
After leaving FM Radio Cody Anderson took Black talk Radio on a 10,000 watt station and turned it into a political and social powerhouse. No one got elected or ran for office in Philadelphia without stopping first at WHAT/WURD. If you wanted to know what the streets were talking about and really saying, you listen to Black Talk radio and Black talk radio was worth listening too because of William Cody Anderson.
Every soul that has ever lived or born in the universe creates a ripple. An algorithm so to speak that changes and affects and influences many. Think of a pebble you throw into a pond and the ripples it creates. Those waves expand and change the pattern of the water and the environment for either an instant or always. Some people make ripples others waves, Cody Anderson made Tsunami‘s
The institutions he built have grown and lasted and touched hundreds of thousands of lives. They’re still doing it today. I’m not just talking about the buildings or the offices; I’m talking about the people. The broadcasters the journalist, the account execs, any and everyone he connected with politically, socially, economically who came into Cody Anderson’s space of influence is a better person because of it. Especially the listeners. — I’ve known him over 30 years and I don’t ever remember him raising his smooth voice. And what a voice it was. Smooth, calm but reassuring and certain. It was honest and it was sincere. And it was genuine.
His son Bill Anderson said it best. “My father didn’t tell me how to live, he just lived and let me watch.” – – I can’t think of a more perfect way to describe the life of Cody Anderson. That’s why I’ll tearfully end this here.
Thank you Cody Anderson. Thank you for being Cody Anderson. That by itself was enough. The world was a better place because you were in it. I for one, like so many, am a better person, because of you.
I’m thinking now of his wife Verna, sons Kyle, Bill and daughter Theresa. Thank you for sharing your husband and father with us.
Rest In Peace.