INDIANAPOLIS - Amos Brown was a fixture on Indianapolis radio for 40 years. But he was more than a radio host. Much more.
Brown died of an apparent heart attack Saturday while visiting family in Chicago, and the news reverberated far beyond the black community for whom Brown wielded his microphone.
Politicians like Gov. Mike Pence offered condolences, and so did the listeners whose lives he touched. On Monday, radio station AM 1301 WTLC, where he had worked since 1975, opened the phones for a five-hour on-air memorial to Brown.
"When I heard of the passing of Amos Brown, it was like somebody had passed in my own family," one caller said. Another said: "He was like our Martin Luther King. He was our champion for justice here in this city."
His show, "Afternoons With Amos," debuted in 2004. He interviewed elected leaders and other prominent community members, raising issues important to the city's minority community, including hosting a one-hour debate between this year's candidates for Indianapolis mayor.
During the program callers would seek help or air concerns. In return, Brown would often track down elected officials or other public officers to get answers.
In the opening moments of his final show last week Brown, in his usual energized and outspoken way, criticized Indianapolis Public Schools over failed inspection of school busses.
Brown gave a voice and a platform for people who didn’t have one, said conservative political pundit Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. He briefly shared the airwaves with Brown in a 2013 show called “Punch-Counterpunch.”
"He did care about his listeners, so if somebody had a problem with city hall, or over at the state or even the federal level, Amos would put them on hold and get them the information they needed," Hakim-Shabazz said.
Democratic House Minority Leader Scott Pelath called Brown “a treasure.”
"I’m going to miss his face when session starts up and we don’t see him with a mic thrust in somebody’s face. That’s when he was at his best and that’s how I’ll remember him," Pelath said Monday.
Brown was 64.
He was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007. His 40-year radio career makes him the longest-running African-American radio personality in Indianapolis, he noted in his column in the Indianapolis Recorder, "Just Tellin' It," in April marking his 40th anniversary.
The newspaper's president, Shannon Williams, released a statement calling Brown "a champion for equality and justice."
Brown was described as "a giant" of radio and Indianapolis by radio colleague Tony Lamont during a live broadcast announcing his death Saturday.
A 2010 profile in the Indianapolis Business Journal described Brown as having a "penchant for asking tough questions" that "has made him one of Indianapolis’ most influential community activists."
Funeral arrangements are pending.