Local radio personality E. Steven Collins has died, according to his station, 100.3 FM. He was 58.
Collins was the director of urban marketing and external relations and hosted a weekly show, Philly Speaks. The show, which featured local and national figures, aired Sunday mornings.
The station said in a statement that he died of a heart attack shortly after midnight at Chestnut Hill Hospital. The station's regular programming was suspended this morning to honor his life and to allow listeners to call in with their remembrances.
"What a good friend he was," host Dyana Williams said on air. "He had so much spirit and light in his eyes."
Williams said Collins was often at the station seven days a week.
"That's how dedicated he was," she said.
In a statement, Radio One chairwoman and founder Catherine Hughes said Collins "brought together the corporate, civic, clergy and overall community for a positive good." She added: "I personally recruited E. and firmly believe it was one of the wisest hires of an exemplary executive and broadcaster."
Those who knew Collins remembered him as relentlessly positive and always willing to help others.
"E is such a mentor to people across the city, to journalists in particular," said Deirdre Childress Hopkins, a past vice president-print for the National Association of Black Journalists. "This is a loss to anybody who was in listening distance of his voice."
Elroy Smith, the radio station's operations manager, called Collins "a true institution" in Philadelphia and "the heartbeat of this city and Radio One, Philadelphia."
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah said in a statement that Collins was "a champion for programs and people that sought to bring positive change to our neighborhoods." Collins' Sunday radio show, Fattah said, "connected community and policy makers directly like family."
Numerous callers to 100.3 this morning reflected that connection, recalling the hours they spent listening to Collins and his deep ties to the Philadelphia community. The callers voiced their sadness at his passing, describing him as a friend and leader.
Calling into the station, State Rep. Jordan Harris said Collins was "truly a legend and a giant in the industry."
Harris recalled Collins as a mentor to young people and politicians in the city.
"He always gave encouragement, he always gave advice," he said. "That's the kind of leadership that we need."
Several callers, including Harris, sounded stunned by Collins' death, a sentiment echoed by others.
Marc Lamont Hill, an academic and activist wrote on Twitter that Collins' passing was "insane" and he had "literally just heard from him Saturday."
And Collins' own Twitter feed was active Sunday through the evening, when he posted messages about Serena Williams' U.S. Open win and wished someone a happy birthday.
He is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two sons, Rashid and Langston.