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Dr. Walter Lomax, legendary Philadelphia business leader who owned WURD, dies

(October 17, 2013) Walter P. Lomax Jr., 81, a legendary figure in the Philadelphia community, and owner of the city's only black-owned radio station, WURD-AM, died early Thursday morning, Oct. 10, of complications from a stroke at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Ironically, his passing came on the same day as a celebration marking the station's tenth anniversary under his ownership.

The announcement of his death was made by his daughter Sara Lomax-Reese, president and general manager of WURD Radio, which Dr. Lomax purchased in 1993 to preserve an independent black voice in city's broadcasting landscape.

"He was an historical figure in Philadelphia and a skilled, compassionate doctor who improved the lives and health of many people," said Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement. "In addition to his work in the health-care field, Dr. Lomax was a great businessman, philanthropist, and supporter of many worthy causes: minority business development, educational attainment, and artistic and cultural institutions."

WURD is part of a long tradition of Philadelphia talk radio stations with strong ties to the black community, that includes stations WWDB, WHAT, and WDAS. When WDAS became part of the Clear Channel family in 2000, Cody Anderson, former WHAT owner and WDAS exec, approached Walter and Beverly Lomax with the idea of investing in a station that would reintroduce that tradition to the city's black community. They formed the LEVAS Corp. (for "Lift Every Voice and Sing"), purchased Spanish-language station Mega at 900 AM, and in 2003 WURD was born.

"This is a truly exciting moment for us," said Dr. Lomax in a statement marking the upcoming tenth anniversary. "Carrying on the legacy of Black radio is an honor, especially at a time when the number of Black-owned media outlets is shrinking." he said.

"Black radio is about heritage, mobilization, activism, entertainment and information sharing," said Sarah Lomax Reese in the statement. "We are glad to still be here, playing that role, and we want to take the time to celebrate this milestone with the WURD family -- our hosts, the loyal callers, our members, our staff and our sponsors. They have made it possible for us to carry this torch for ten years."

Dr. Lomax's survivors include his wife; daughters Sara, Claire, and Laura; and sons Bennett, W. Thomas, and Charles. A private funeral was held Wednesday, Oct. 16. Plans for a public memorial service are pending.

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