October 20, 2014

Sixty years in radio for Phillips

Bernie Phillips

Bernie Phillips

A broadcasting milestone will be marked today for one Wisconsin man. It was 1953, and Bernie Phillips was a student at Cudahy High School when he began what so far has been a sixty year career in radio.

“I call it the stone age,” Phillips says. “When I first started out I was pretty young, and I didn’t get paid, but I got free tickets to go here and go there.” His first big concert was Brenda Lee at the Wisconsin State Fair, but he also spent a week in New York and to meet Perry Como, Patti Paige and Connie Francis at Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour – pretty heady stuff for a kid from Cudahy.

AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:15)

Sixty years have seen a lot of technologies come and go, and Phillips has worked with most of them. “In the stone age, we had reel-to-reel, but it wasn’t tape, it was a wire recorder reel-to-reel,” he recalls. Phillips’ career began at WISN in Milwaukee and included stops at WTKM in Hartford and KFIZ in Fond du Lac. He’s now General Manager at WISS in Berlin, and does some on-air work too.

“My day starts at 2:00 in the morning, and it ends at 4:00 in the afternoon, seven says a week,” says Phillips, who figures his last vacation was about 25 years ago. He concedes he had fun, but noting matches the fun he’s had on the air. “You know I love what I’m doing, and that’s radio.”