Long time President of the New Jersey Association of Broadcasters Philip H. Roberts passed away this week. Roberts suffered a heart attack while on vacation with his wife in Canada and succumbed to a fatal heart attack while he was being treated at a Chicago hospital after being Medi-vaced back to the states. He was 73.
Roberts had been suffering with heart disease for some time, which contributed to his decision in 2007 to retire from his post as NJBA President, a position he held for over a decade. He was a vigorous advocate of free-over-the-air radio and television. Prior to his being named President, Phil was the association’s executive director and his tenure with the association spanned 25 years.
Roberts was a major force in New Jersey broadcasting as well as a national leader, serving as President of the Broadcast Executive Directors Association, the precursor organization of the powerful National Alliance of State Broadcasters (NASBA).
Roberts retired as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association in 2008 and was succeeded by New Jersey attorney Paul S. Rotella. Under his long stewardship, the Association’s membership swelled to include every eligible radio broadcast station in the Garden State.
The current NJBA President and CEO Paul Rotella reflected on Phil’s impact on the industry after learning of Phil’s passing late yesterday: “Phil transformed the NJBA into a viable and effective association, fiercely advocating the interests of our membership and industry. He was Mr. New Jersey in the broadcast world and he enjoyed the respect of all of his colleagues and coworkers.” Rotella added, “His contributions to the success of New Jersey radio is legendary and his presence will be deeply missed”.
NJBA Chairman William Saurer of Millennium Radio New Jersey expressed his sadness upon learning of Phil’s passing. “We all knew Phil was sick for a while, and while it may have not been unexpected, it still came as a shock to all of us on the Board”. Immediate past Chairman Robert McAllan recalled his storied history with Phil and credited him for the growth and success the NJBA has had over the years. “He was the association”, said McAllan, “and we’ll miss him”. Chairman Sauer added: “Phil was a force to be reckoned with when it came to this industry. His contributions were legendary in New Jersey broadcasting history and we send our thoughts and prayers to Clara and Phil’s family at this sad time.”
Robert’s passion for broadcasting started many years ago. He hosted radio talk shows and was a DJ early in his career before he switched to selling radio and ultimately becoming the executive director of the NJBA. Phil was active for all of his working life in the radio and TV broadcasting business and he was an adjutant professor at Middlesex County College. His radio profession started in Beloit, Wisconsin, and his on-air career included a stint as a Network Reporter on the NBC Radio Network as a Monitor Special Correspondent, and worked for WABC-TV NYC as a Trenton Statehouse Correspondent.
A private memorial service will be held in Arizona on Friday. Phil’s family and the NJBA request that any memorial remembrances be made to the American Heart Association in lieu of flowers.