Phil Williams, lifetime achievement honoree, cherishes 'crazy life'

Advocacy, Awards,

Phil Williams

It was 3 a.m. when Phil Williams woke up his wife, Cheryl, a few months ago and told her not to worry. 

The police were at their front door. The FBI in Washington, Williams explained, had sent an alert to police in Tennessee about a possible death threat, directed at Williams, they intercepted from white supremacists. 

“I am blessed to have someone in my corner that supports this crazy life,” Williams said. 

Williams, an investigative reporter at WTVF in Nashville, has drawn the ire of white supremacists and powerful political figures, but the criticism and threats are overshadowed by praise from viewers and pundits, including HBO’s John Oliver. 

The RTDNA Foundation selected Williams for its Lifetime Achievement Award because his career as an investigative reporter has served as a model for what great journalism can do in a community. His reporting has uncovered corruption in the Tennessee government and numerous political scandals and has helped drive national conversations on important issues.

“Being a truth teller, regardless of the blowback, is more important than ever,” Williams said. “In my opinion, our best hope is to be relentlessly relevant. And that's what I've tried to do. That's what I plan to continue doing. And I know that's a commitment you share.”

Watch his full speech below:

(Photo: BP Miller / Chorus Photography)