By Frank Lewis
In the 1950s in Portsmouth, Phil Phillips of WNXT Radio was the voice of the news. Phillips, whose name is Phillip Nye, passed away on March 20, 2014, at the age of 87, living most recently in West Bloomfield and Shelby Township, Michigan. Nye was news director at the legendary WKNR in Detroit, Michigan after leaving Portsmouth. While in Portsmouth, Nye (Phillips) was a newsman, occasionally covering sports events and spent several years at WIOI Radio.
In addition to news and sports, Phil Phillips was known for opening his music program with - “This is Phil Phillips with discs and data designed with you in mind.”
“Phil was a news guy,” longtime radio personality Phil Hayes told the Daily Times. “He helped put WNXT on the air. He then left WNXT for a while and did some other things, and then he came back, and he put me on the air in the afternoon. But he was always about the news.”
Hayes recalled when Nye, working for WIOI, was thrust into the international news scene when a Russian family visited Portsmouth - something unheard of during the Cold War. He put together a half hour interview which was heard on closed circuit and that landed him a job offer in Detroit.
“He covered the Civil Rights movement in Selma, Alabama,” Hayes said.
Hayes said Nye was an extraordinarily talented and informed newsman unparalleled in this market.
“He was truly a journalist,” Hayes said.
Born in Newark, Ohio in 1927, Nye was a graduate of The Ohio State University where he studied theater and journalism. Nye had a long and distinguished career in radio and television, working actively as a broadcast journalist until the age of 86.
In addition to working at WNXT and WKNR, Nye was an investigative reporter and anchor for KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, news director for WXYZ-TV and headed news departments at WABC in New York and KGO In San Francisco before joining ABC as vice president of their owned and operated news division. He later became a partner in Burnham Broadcasting, managing television stations in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Bakersfield, California and New Orleans, Louisiana.
A memorial service was held Monday in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.