NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Conservative talk radio host Phil Valentine has died following a lengthy battle with COVID-19. He was 61 years old.
His death was announced by SuperTalk 99.7 WTN on Saturday afternoon.
Valentine had been battling the virus since at least July 11, when he confirmed on his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Valentine was a prominent voice on Nashville radio for decades.
He moved to talk radio full time in 1995, but in 2000, he received national attention by helping to organize horn honking protests against a proposed state income tax in Tennessee.
We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/vhXpE7x0oX— SuperTalk 99.7 WTN (@997wtn) August 21, 2021
He broadcast his conservative talk radio show from outside the state capitol and urged people to drive by and make noise.
"We are going to have a one-minute solid horn honking, and we want you to participate in that," Valentine said from his broadcast booth.
Many credit the passionate protests with helping to defeat the state income tax, which was proposed by a Republican governor. He later wrote a book about the protests called Tax Revolt, one of several books he wrote during his career.
Valentine often discussed how his father was a Democrat and spent 12 years as a U.S. congressman. But Valentine said he left the Democratic Party after Ronald Reagan became President.
His strong opinions helped get his radio show syndicated. It aired on stations across the country, but his greatest influence was in Tennessee.
Recently, Valentine voiced skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do," he tweeted in December. "Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?"
He even recorded a parody song, "Vaxman," mocking the vaccine.
In July, he told his audience he had contracted COVID-19, and he expected to be back soon. But later updates from family and friends indicated how serious it was.
Valentine's brother said Phil regretted not being supportive of the vaccines and wrote if his brother got back on the radio, he would encourage people to get vaccinated.
According to his family, Valentine fought hard but was unable to beat the virus.
This story was originally published by Ben Hall on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville.