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Originally published on October 17, 2008

Beau Phillips

Dial Global
Executive VP of Programming

Dial Global executive VP of programming had lost his love for radio, but a new role has him passionate about reinventing the medium

What began as a dream to be a major-league pitcher turned out to be a successful career as a pitcher of marketing ideas and concepts. With a national reputation for his work in radio and at MTV, less than four months ago Beau Phillips joined Dial Global as executive VP of programming.

Getting into the business: I was a pitcher for the University of Arizona and realized I wasn't going to be able to go any farther. I was hitchhiking around Northern California and stumbled into Chico State University, which was looking for disc jockeys on their campus radio station. A light bulb went off; my path was clear. I started working in college radio and ultimately took an on-air job at a station in Chico, in a double-wide mobile home after I graduated.

Moving into programming: From Chico I stumbled into a job in Denver at KAZY where I worked alongside Kirk Stirland—ironically, years later we're working together again; he's the president of programming at Dial Global. From Denver I went to KYA-FM in San Francisco as a jock, got the first taste of consolidation and was out of a job. Went to Seattle and pitched my way into a programming job at KISW and stayed there for 14 years.

Going out on your own: [Marketing and promotion company] Rainmaker [Media] was born from the idea that most advertisers don't take full advantage of radio and limit themselves to buying 60s and 30s when product placement seems to be exploding in other mediums. I leveraged what I knew about radio to give my clients an advantage—to say everything we come up with promotionally in marketing was pre-thought through the eyes of a program director. When we represented companies, whether it was CBS Television or Nintendo or Amazon.com, we were able to craft some pretty cool ideas that were able to raise my clients' message above the noise. And going to program directors, we were able to carve up a lot of promotional inventory that most advertisers never knew existed. We had a nice run at Rainmaker, and my staff still continues to run it while I'm at Dial Global.

Joining Dial Global: Kirk Stirland and I have been good friends for many years. He has come to me though the years and said, "Would you like to find a way to work with our company?" and I said, "I am really down on radio right now and disappointed in what radio has become." He was about to acquire Jones Radio Networks, which would effectively double the size of Dial Global, providing some form of programming to 5,400 radio stations, almost half the stations in the U.S. He said, "Maybe it's time for you to stop bitching about what radio is not and help us reinvent it." At that point it was an offer I couldn't refuse. They have given me the tools, encouragement and support to put the magic back into radio.

Your current focus: I'm responsible for everything from our 24/7 digital formats to our prep services—which have 1,000 affiliates—to our syndicated daypart hosts and developing new properties and new ideas. My first priority is to really dress out our 24/7 formats. We have almost 1,700 affiliates around the country that take our satellite programming, which has always been seen as something for small and medium markets. What's exciting is consolidation has pushed so many talented people to the sidelines that I've found and they are alive and well. I've been pulling the best people from Dial Global and Jones and building supercharged formats out of them. I'm working on getting the music, the features and the imaging all together so these formats can compete in any size market. I think that's attractive to many companies cutting costs who don't want to cut the quality of their product. I'm also trying to reinvent the production we're doing and leveraging the promotional capabilities of this company.

Biggest surprise in the first 90 days: This is going to sound silly but I've fallen in love with radio again, and I had really given up on it.

Long-range plans: To throw myself into each of the different divisions. I'm really trying to set the bar high. The air talent and programming people willing to lock arms with me and run at a faster pace are the people I want to rally this company around. We're going to do everything to try and create a new model.

Biggest challenge: It's something that hit me right out of the block. I don't have a staff in New York. My people are based in Los Angeles; Valencia, Calif.; Seattle; Denver; Nashville; and Omaha, and they've all been operating independently like islands. My first challenge is to build bridges between them and encourage collaboration and cooperation and sharing a pooling of knowledge.

State of radio: Somewhere along the way we lost our passion. I know that's kind of clichéd but it's been so focused on sales and revenue generation and being accountable to Wall Street. We spent so much time cutting we've forgotten to inject the fun back. There was a study I saw a few weeks ago that asked what people like most about radio. The No. 1 response was convenience. I thought that was sad; we're now relegated to a toaster or microwave sitting on the counter, and we're convenient. Nothing about great disc jockeys or great news and information or music they love.

Career highlight: I was a talent coach and had a good ear and eye for talent and gave them the opportunity to really launch. That's what I get to do now on a national scale.

Most influential individual: Lester Smith, the owner of KISW, along with his partners Danny Kaye and Frank Sinatra. He was a real mentor to me.

Advice for broadcasters: Find a way to get back to what made you love radio in the first place and inspire yourself to get back there at all costs, because that's what radio needs right now.

Liner Notes
Profile: Beau Phillips
Title: Dial Global executive VP of programming
Favorite radio format: Triple A
Favorite TV show: "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart"
Favorite song: "That's impossible."
Favorite artist: Neil Young
Favorite movie: "City Slickers"
Favorite restaurant: The 13 Coins, Seattle
Beverage of choice: Iced tea
Hobbies: "Just about any sport, golf and photography."
E-mail address: bphillips@dial-global.com

'I've fallen in love with radio again, and I had really given up on it.' —Beau Phillips


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