Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mike Phillips was a great program director. A gentleman of rare gifts, talent, and grace, Mike passed away Monday almost without notice. His career was filled with many successes and very little recognition. He was not one to take a bow, a man who preferred plural first-person pronouns in a business too often dominated by the first-personal singular.

Mike Phillips first achieved success on the air. No doubt he could have enjoyed a long and very successful career doing just that. But Mike was never one to settle. Never one to accept things as they were when the moment was ripe with the possible. He became the programmer's programmer. Not only at the station level but at the national level as well. For a while he worked at a research firm where he helped others to achieve success. Paul Drew often suggested we remember the second word in our PD title, Mike lived this. He had a deep understanding of the simple truth - all that's important is what comes out of the speaker. Mike knew everything else was a footnote. Mike Phillips was always setting the bar higher, he was bored with par. He was a director of great radio. I am told he once said to a talent "I build the stage, YOU guys are the stars."

In the last decade of his career he was at the helm of KRTH. It was yet another incredible success story and his last great run. It was there that Mike was finally and properly recognized but it was not to be the applause of his industry. Mike was never to receive the collective praise and industry honors his long and successful career had more than earned him. No matter, Mike was never concerned about such things. In a craft sometimes filthy with ego and self promotion Mike always took the road less traveled, the high road. His light touch, rich sense of humor and relentless quest for perfection were consistent. He was happy working behind the scenes, a master of the art, the gifted impresario unheralded, he devoted his professional life to listeners and staff. Mike Phillips did work that mattered, he made a positive difference in each and every situation. It is indeed fitting that Mike ultimately received his recognition in a quiet, personal and very uncommon way - at the bank. After decades of selfless hard work and dedication Mike finally got paid. He was able to quietly retire as a man of means. Let us remember this quiet, gentle and extraordinary man.