NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — 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 after he had been battling the virus for more than a month.
On July 11, Valentine confirmed via his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with COVID.
He was a prominent voice on Nashville radio for decades.
Valentine 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.
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.
It was one of several books he wrote during his career.
Valentine often discussed how his father was a Democrat and spent 12 years as a US 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.
When Valentine felt Republican Speaker of House Glen Casada lied on his show by claiming a NewsChannel 5 investigation was inaccurate, he turned on Casada.
"It's always the cover-up that's worse," Valentine said.
"I'm expecting honest answers. I'm not expecting somebody to use me to spin his story and spin his web," Valentine said of Casada.
Not long after that Casada resigned as Speaker after losing support from a majority of Republican representatives.
Recently Valentine voiced skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine.
In December of 2020 he tweeted "I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do. 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 COVID 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 more pro-vaccine and wrote if he got back on the radio he would encourage people to get vaccinated.
According to family, Valentine fought hard, but was unable to beat the virus.