Marc Bernier, a talk radio host in Daytona Beach for 30 years, died after a three-week battle with COVID-19.
Bernier, 65, has been remembered in the Florida community in recent days as a conservative who sought out and aired others’ points of view.
He also was an outspoken opponent of vaccinations.
Volusia County, Florida Sheriff Mike Chitwood, a longtime guest on Bernier’s radio show on WNDB, said a representative of the Florida station confirmed to him that Bernier died Saturday night.
Chitwood said he had appeared regularly on Bernier’s show for the last 15 years, first as Daytona Beach police chief and then as sheriff. He said the two didn’t always agree on everything, but that never got in the way of their friendship.
Jim Rose, a retired attorney who hosted his own weekly show on WNDB for 15 years recalled Bernier as a good interviewer who made guests feel at ease.
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Pat Northey, a Democrat who served on the Volusia County Council for 20 years, was among the liberals who were welcomed on Bernier’s show in a way that’s not done on many of the nationally syndicated conservative talk shows.
“I don’t think he’s as right-wing as what his show is,” Northey said. “I think he has an understanding of moderation. … I find he can be persuaded. He’s not dug in on any issue.”
On air, Bernier said he wouldn’t take COVID-19 vaccine
Bernier had issues with vaccines for years.
Mel Stack, an attorney and friend who regularly advertised on the program, said Bernier’s anti-vaccination views were not based on politics, but personal experience based on how he believed vaccines had impacted people near to him.
Bernier’s concerns extended to the COVID-19 vaccines.
When Bernier reunited with Justin Gates, a vice president at Sports Network International in Ormond Beach, Florida and a longtime friend of Bernier, for a newshow on Dec. 19, the Pfizer vaccine had only gotten its initial approval about a week earlier. Gates asked Bernier whether he would get the jab.
Bernier responded: “I’m not taking it.”
Gates: “Come on!”
Bernier: “Are you kidding me? Mr. Anti-Vax? Jeepers.”
COVID-19 cases have spiked in Florida from earlier in the summer. Between Aug. 20 and Aug. 26, the state documented 151,749 new coronavirus cases.
Approximately 68 percent of eligible Florida residents are vaccinated against the virus, according to state data.
Mark McKinney, the WNDB operations director, did not confirm Bernier’s vaccination status to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, while the host was hospitalized. However, he noted that “If you’ve listened to his show, you’ve heard him talk about how anti-vaccine he is on the air.”