Philadelphia radio figure E. Steven Collins died of a heart attack early Monday, according to the station for which he hosted a weekly public affairs show. He was 58.
Collins, known as E., spent the past decade at WRNB-FM, nicknamed Old School 100.3. He also worked for two other Philadelphia stations, WPPZ-FM 103.9 and WPHI-FM 107.9, and previously had worked for WDAS-FM 105.3.
He worked as director of urban marketing and external relations and hosted a weekly show on WRNB called “Philly Speaks.”
Station marketing director Amir Khan said Collins was friends with some of the city’s most powerful figures but also “resonated with the average person.”
“He was a fun guy,” Khan said. “He would make you laugh, he’ll inspire you, he’ll motivate you.”
Collins had hosted an end-of-summer gathering Saturday for the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, which issued a statement on Monday saying it had plans to honor a man described as a longtime member and a beloved friend.
The association said that Collins was born and raised in the city, and that survivors include his wife, Lisa, and sons Rashid and Langston.
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Collins “used radio as a way to be a community leader” and called him a champion of programs and people trying to improve neighborhoods.
Mayor Michael Nutter told WCAU-TV Channel 10 he felt the tremendous loss of someone he considered a friend.
Nutter said Collins, “E. Steven’s passing is a significant loss for Philadelphia; he was one of our city’s most prominent civic voices. I have fond memories of working with him on many occasions through the organizations with which he was involved.
E. served on several boards including the Philadelphia Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, the Urban League of Philadelphia, the Multicultural Affairs Congress and the Marian Anderson Awards Association, among others, and I had the pleasure of appointing him Chair of the re-established Mayor’s Commission on Literacy on September 8, 2010. “I offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Lisa, his sons, his colleagues at Radio One and Clear Channel Communications, and his legions of listeners and fans. He will be truly missed.”
State Treasurer Rob McCord issued the following statement on the death of Collins; “Mr. Collins was an inspirational leader whose service to the community in and around Philadelphia was immeasurable.” McCord remarked, “If you met E., you knew this was a special guy. He was dedicated to bringing people together in a constructive way to solve problems and improve lives.
“Collins provided a strong, passionate, and persistent voice for positive change. When great, inspirational people in our lives pass on, it’s important to remember our relationship lives on in the memories and causes we share. I know E’s warmth and eloquence, his optimism and generosity will inspire me until the day I die.”