Amos Brown: Gone but never to be forgotten

By Diane Brown, IU Communications Specialist:

Amos Brown’s passing has left a hole in the mind and soul of the city of Indianapolis.

“His intellect enabled Amos to speak with authority on a wide range of topics. He is literally irreplaceable,” said Vernon A. Williams, communication and engagement strategist in the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement.

This blog entry is dedicated to the memory of the longtime Indianapolis Recorder columnist and Indianapolis radio talk show host for WTLC-1310 The Light.

Amos Brown

Amos Brown, Photo courtesy Indianapolis Recorder

The Northwestern University grad was visiting family in Chicago when he died last week from what is believed to have been a heart attack. According to a WTLC-1310 announcement, funeral services will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at Light of the World Christian Church, 4646 N. Michigan Road. His family has invited the community to join them in a celebration of his life during a calling from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, at Light of the World.

When Williams moved to Indianapolis from Gary 14 years ago, Brown was one of the first people he met. He was introduced by then-Indiana Black Expo President Charles Williams. Over the years, Vernon Williams was a guest on Brown’s radio shows numerous times and worked with the Indiana Broadcaster’s Hall of Famer to advance the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists.

“Amos Brown is synonymous with Indianapolis,” Vernon Williams said. “His knowledge of the history, politics and social climate is only surpassed by his love for the community and compassion for people of this great city. Amos was outspoken and unafraid to fulfill a role of advocacy with uncompromising principles on what he believed to be right.”

“How do you replace someone like that?” IUPUI Public Relations Professor of Practice Bruce Hetrick said during a conversation about Brown’s passing.

Before he began teaching at IUPUI, Hetrick was founder, principal and CEO of Hetrick Communications, a leading Indianapolis-based public relations and advertising agency from 1994 to 2011.

For two decades, any time you went to buy advertising, Brown would ask, “Are you going to buy African-American media?” Hetrick said.

And if Brown found out that a public relations professional in the community sent a news release to The Indianapolis Star or the Indianapolis Business Journal but left out the Indianapolis Recorder, “He would crucify you,” Hetrick said. “And rightly so. He was a tireless advocate for the African-American community and its businesses.”

Then-IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, left, and IU President Michael A. McRobbie talk with Amos Brown on AM 1310: The Light at Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration on July 17 at the Indiana Convention Center. Photo by James Brosher

Then-IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, left, and IU President Michael A. McRobbie talk with Amos Brown on AM 1310: The Light at Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration on July 17 at the Indiana Convention Center.
Photo by James Brosher

Several years ago, Hetrick and Brown brought together members of the media, advertising and PR communities to collectively discuss how to get more African-Americans and Hispanics into a white-dominated profession.

“The collective opinion was that we needed to start in elementary school to instill habits of research, writing and curiosity — the kinds of qualities that set Amos Brown apart as a journalist and advocate,” Hetrick said.

His tenacity is no doubt what gained Brown the reputation reflected in the “Radio warrior” headline on a 2010 IBJ article written by Anthony Schoettle.  It’s an apropos image of Brown’s approach to advocacy journalism and pointed commentary.

“Amos prides his program on allowing listeners access to local and national leaders in an environment of civility and respect,” according to the “Afternoons With Amos” summary on the WTLC website. “Amos also helps listeners deal with bureaucratic red tape; resolve instances of racial insensitivity and advocates and challenges the community to be their best.”

When I first met Amos, he was hosting “The Amos Brown Show,” Indianapolis’ only daytime TV talk show, which ran from 1997 to 2005.

At the time of his death, “Afternoons With Amos” was a must for those interested in the Indianapolis community and the issues important to its people.

“Brown gained a reputation for tackling racial, political and socio-economic issues, and had little problem getting power brokers to come on his shows,” Schoettle wrote.

Brown was always a go-to-person when it came to sharing news about IUPUI.

On air and off, he was a strong supporter of the IUPUI Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner. He almost always interviewed the student organizers as an advance promo of the event and often interviewed the keynote speaker.

Amos Brown was host of the radio talk show 'Afternoons with Amos.' Photo courtesy AM1310.

Amos Brown was host of the radio talk show ‘Afternoons with Amos.’ Photo courtesy AM1310.

On one occasion, Brown hosted his radio talk show live from a tent set up on what is now the Joseph T. Taylor Courtyard. On another, he broadcast live from a University Library conference room.

While some might have felt his manner was a little rough (especially politicians!), I always found him to be fair and objective, and I knew his direct and forceful manner held no tint of malice.

In the words of Shannon Williams, president of the Indianapolis Recorder: ” Our community has lost a great mind and a great man.”

Amos and his contributions will not be forgotten. May the community’s prayers and condolences bring his family comfort and peace at this time of sorrow.

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