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
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.”