Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Power of Radio

Wally Phillips passed away last week from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82.

Who was Wally Phillips you might ask?

Wally Phillips taught me the power of radio broadcasting.

Phillips was the legendary morning host on Chicago’s WGN-AM 720. He was the king of morning drive radio in the Windy City from 1965 to 1986. He consistently dominated the number one position. At the peak of his popularity, he was entertaining almost a million and a half listeners each week, representing almost a 50 share of the morning drive audience. That is unheard of by today’s standards.

Phillips was a true radio pioneer and one of the original, modern-day, morning radio personalities. Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune wrote a great tribute to Phillips. Interestingly enough, if you are a Programmer, DJ or morning show host, the article is actually a text book tutorial on what it takes to be a successful on-air personality. Click here to read the article ===>

So, how did Wally Phillips teach me the power of radio?

Actually it is quite simple! While I never met him, he was part of my life growing up; he was a member of the family. I can remember every night sitting at the dinner table with my mother, father and brother. After the obligatory “how was your day”, the conversation invariably turned to what Phillips had said that morning on the radio.

You see, each morning Wally Phillips was talking to my mother as she got us ready for school. He spoke to my dad in the car while he was driving to work each day. Phillips was real, relevant and philanthropic. His delivery was not hyped, it was little corny at times, always informative and entertaining and he was one of the first to interact with listeners on the phone.

Most importantly the conversation always seemed like it was directed at you, he was one-on-one with his listeners, myself and my parents included. He was a regular guy; it was like listening to a close friend or relative every morning. He was everybody's good friend! He had Chicagoland hanging on to everything he said. He was powerful!

That's when I realized the power of the spoken word, The Power of Radio!

WGN's Bob Hart reports on Phillips. Click here to listen ===>
Highlights of Wally Phillips on WGN. Click Here to listen ===>

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