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DJ Phil Anderson

Old School and On the Air

Sep. 6, 2011
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Phil Anderson must be the hardest-working man in Milwaukee radio. He's certainly high in seniority. Six days a week, Anderson lays down a tasty mix of blues, Southern soul and old school R&B, weekday evenings on "Blues After Dark" and weekend mornings-into-afternoons on "The Saturday Blues Brunch," all on WMCS 1290 AM and all with an old-time sense of showmanship otherwise largely missing from the city's radio dial. Some of that comes from the Detroit native's presence on the airwaves for 40 years, but he likely wouldn't have survived that long in so competitive a field were his on-air personality less suited to conveying a sense of warmth and welcome that counterpoints the melancholy and rough nature of much of the music he spins.

How did you get started in radio?

My start came in the early '70s at WAWA when Dr. Bop, a legendary Milwaukee radio personality, asked me to run the control boards for him. Soon after that I was fortunate enough to get my own radio show.

How did you land at WMCS, and for how long have you been there?

In 1989 the Program Director, who was familiar with me, offered me an air shift playing blues, and I accepted. While the station as a whole as seen several changes, my blues program has remained a constant.

How closely does your programming reflect your personal tastes?

Six days a week, I give my audience the best in blues. I love the music and I personally enjoy listening to it all. Both "The Saturday Blues Brunch" and "Blues After Dark" are a reflection of my taste in music.

You may be the only DJ in the city who sometimes sings along to the music he plays.

To add a little more flavor to my show I began singing along a bit with some songs, just having fun. I just started doing that a year ago or so.

Refereeing basketball keeps you even busier, too, yes?

I've been refereeing for 35 years. I started because the Program Director at the Franklin Boys & Girls Club, Sam Williams, a former Milwaukee Buck, asked me to try it there.  I didn't know anything about it, but he encouraged me. Over time, I became good at it. I went from there to refereeing high school basketball for MPS. I then worked in the NBA and small colleges over the years. I am currently refereeing high school.

Got any retirement plans yet?

I like what I do. I enjoy entertaining and that's what keeps me going. As long as God keeps me moving around and healthy I will continue to do what I really love: entertaining and refereeing. I see no retirement anytime soon.


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