By Karen Stokes
Eric Von, a popular journalist, magazine publisher and morning talk radio host at WNOV 860 passed away Thursday evening. He was 58.
Weekday morning listeners looked forward to “The Eric Von Show,” to hear the more than 25- year broadcasting veteran discuss vital issues concerning the community with sound reasoning and frankness.
“Eric Von was a huge part of the WNOV 860 family,” said Courier Communications owner Jerrel Jones. “He was a true journalist with the unique sense of ‘detached objectivity.’
He possessed the ability to place distance between himself and the subject matter, which is extremely rare in today’s world of journalism. He was the ‘Dean of Journalism,’ known nationwide as possessing a cool, calm and collected swag about himself. His contributions are like fingerprints, there will never be another. He will truly be missed here at WNOV 860.”
On Thursday evening, Von was found by his wife Faithe Colas. He passed away sitting on his back porch with his dog, Max, at his feet.
Born and raised in Washington D.C., Von, whose birth name is Eric Von Boardley started his career as a disc jockey and later as a news reporter. He then served as the Business manager for Radio One in Washington, D.C. In 1991 he came to Milwaukee and joined WMCS-AM (formerly WMVP) to host the morning show. It didn’t take long for Von to be entrenched in the Milwaukee community becoming an integral voice in the African American community.
He was a panelist for Milwaukee Public Television program “Interchange” and he also co-hosted “Black Nouveau” which also airs on the network. From 1998 through 2000, Von was a special assignment reporter and co-host of “It’s your Vote,” a political affairs show on WISN Channel 12.
In 2001, he moved to Arizona but soon returned to Milwaukee. He continued his work on the radio, in the community along with his wife. He also started an online men’s health magazine, “Brain, Brawn & Body.”
“Brain, Brawn & Body” began as an idea Von had after reading an “Essence Magazine” article on “10 Things Women Should Ask Doctors”.
“Eric thought there should be a resource like this for men. Men need not just to go to the doctor, but talk to one another about health. Encourage one another,” Colas said. “He woke up the next day and came up with ‘Brain, Brawn & Body.’”
Von labored to find solutions to the issues tormenting Milwaukee. Recently he hosted and produced, “Precious Lives: Before the Gunshots,” a multimedia series about young people and gun violence. The WUWM website said that Von was proud of the awareness his project brought to gun violence in the city and the collaborative effort behind addressing it.
For many he was a mentor, and left a lasting impression on his colleagues and friends.
Sherwin Hughes, host of ‘The Forum’ 9 a.m. to Noon show on WNOV said,
“He gave me my first opportunity to be on the radio. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I will carry that with me. Eric’s show set the tone for the day. This is my first Monday in almost a year and a half that he is not setting the tone for the day. I am very, very lost.”
Robbie Fulton, former sales manager at WMCS said, “Eric Von is one of my best friends. We found out our birthdays were a day apart so from then on we celebrated them together every year since.”
Friends said that not only was Eric an intelligent caring journalist but he was quick witted and enjoyed laughing, joking and playing “the dozens”.
Von built strong relationships with his co-workers and political leaders, and he always challenged these leaders to be better.
“I am heartbroken to learn of Eric Von’s passing,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Eric was one of the most amazing people in this entire city. Our city lost a giant. We lost an amazingly intelligent giant with a huge heart who cared about this community. Eric would speak his mind very clearly, very forcefully but still in a very professional way. He was a thought leader and was totally engaged in trying to make this a better city for everybody. I will forever be grateful for Eric’s friendship, his guidance and his commitment to making Milwaukee a better city and challenging all of us to do the same.”
“Eric’s mic is silent but the legacy of his commitment to this community and his family and friends is not gone. Our community has suffered a tremendous loss. May God Bless his soul,” said Senator Lena Taylor.
Von is survived by his wife Faithe Colas, his daughter Erica Boardley, and stepdaughters Bria Culp and Paige Colas along with his grandchildren, Domonic and Erielle.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to: Wisconsin Black Media Association, P.O. Box 33, Milwaukee, Wi 53201-0033