Townsquare Media’s Norman Philips Retires

The VP of engineering spoke with Radio magazine, reflecting on his career and what he’ll do now November 21, 2016
GREENWICH, Conn. — One of Townsquare Media’s vice presidents of engineering has retired. Norman Philips — “Norm” to most of the industry — has turned in his office keys and officially is now a full-time musician in a two-piece band, he told Radio magazine.

It was a love for music and electronics that influenced Philips to study radio engineering at Morehead State University. Eventually, Philips received his FCC First Class license and took a job at Susquehanna Radio as a chief engineer, working there for 29 years.

While at Susquehanna, Philips worked his way up to vice president of engineering while helping the company grow into larger markets.

“It was small-medium when I started. Then they added Houston and San Francisco. I transferred to Dallas to oversee regional aspects of the company from an engineering standpoint,” Philips added.

The aspects of radio engineering he liked most was designing and building installations. With a career that started in the mid-1970s, Philips had a front-row seat into the evolution of radio technology. “We went from really basic and inexpensive equipment back in the mid-’70s, to Pacific Recorders consoles, and really good cart machines and then into automation — I think ’94 was our first full computer automation system,” said Philips.

He predicts radio’s tech will continue to go towards solid-state transmitters and audio over IP. “The beauty of the solid-state transmitter is, from a novice standpoint they are actually easier to work on because you don’t have the high-voltage issues to contend with, and they are IP-controlled to where the manufacturer can give very good quick backup support on what is going on and what is the issue,” Philips says. “That makes it safer and easier for beginning IT techs to move into full engineering roles.”

With a long career like Philips’ meeting several generations of radio engineers is common. Philips gives credit to mentors and colleagues like Fred Greaves and Charlie Morgan at Susquehanna for being invaluable teachers. For picking up vital radio management and budgeting skills, he praises his colleagues Larry Grogan and Dan Halyburton.

“I want to [also] thank all the regional and local engineers for doing the hard work. Special thanks to Stuart Rosenstein, Scott Schatz, Joe Ainsworth and Mark Simpson. I retire knowing the Townsquare engineering is in good hands,” Philips added.

Philips, 65, and Mark Simpson were both VPs of engineering, Simpson covering the northeast and northwest while Philips covered the central — an echo of the days when Gap West and Regent became Townsquare Media. With Philips’ retirement, Simpson was promoted to senior vice president of engineering and Joe Ainsworth to senior vice president of IT. Townsquare Media owns 306 radio stations, 325 local websites in 66 U.S. markets, a digital marketing solutions company as well as several music, lifestyle and entertainment events.

As for those post retirement plans, with a focus on classic hits and country, Philips says he sings, plays bass and does foot percussion for his band.

“[I’m] playing a pretty good bit and plan on playing more. We may be old but we’ve got over 250 songs.”

 

Receive regular news and technology updates. Sign up for our free newsletter here.

Comments