Phil Lewis, Vice President and Market Manager, Cumulus Media
I have the privilege of working with an amazing group of creative professionals and overseeing Cumulus’ group of eight radio stations that serve the Columbia and Jefferson City regions. We also have a digital advertising division, and our team creates a variety of events and publications each year.
Years lived in Columbia/Mid-Missouri:
Coming up on four years.
MBA from the University of Missouri–St Louis, bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Other than a restaurant job as a teenager, I’ve always been in some form of media. During high school, I was an editor of the school paper, and I also freelanced for a local weekly — they paid five dollars for each article or photograph that was published. In my mid-20s, I met a radio station manager and was intrigued by the business side of radio. I’ve spent the last 27 years moving from sales to sales management to GM positions. We’ve been in St. Louis, Colorado Springs, Central Illinois, and now Mid-Missouri.
A favorite recent project:
We really enjoy working with Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Q106.1 always does a Christmas toy drive, but each summer we also put on an event called Glamourazzi. Many of the hospital’s patients are able to forget about their medical issues for a few hours and receive some pampering. We have stylists, photographers, crafts, and food. It’s a fun diversion for some very special kids with very real challenges in their lives.
Why I’m passionate about my job:
Every day I get to work in a creative business that serves the people of Mid-Missouri. Everywhere I go, I meet our listeners and advertisers. I hear our stations playing in offices, in restaurants, in stores, and at the gym. People come up to me and tell me how they were moved, inspired, or even outraged at a story we reported. We have the privilege of entertaining and informing people, and we don’t take that lightly.
My next professional goal:
We remind ourselves that the name of the company is Cumulus Media, not Cumulus Radio. Great radio will continue to be the cornerstone of everything that we do, but we also will need to continue to grow and evolve our mobile platforms, digital advertising resources, podcasting, and audio streaming.
Biggest lesson learned in business:
Hire character, train skill.
How I would like to impact the Columbia community:
I want to help our team create really great media for Columbia and Mid-Missouri. If we do our job well, these stations and our hosts will continue to occupy an important part of people’s daily routine for years to come. I’m generally a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, but it was so rewarding to be at KFRU’s 90th Anniversary back in 2015. When radio stations play a prominent role in a community over the course of many decades, they become a part of the fabric of that community.
I really love the media business. It generally doesn’t feel like work to me.
I really love the media business. I can struggle to find a good work–life balance at times.
The next challenge facing my industry:
The way people consume audio is evolving and the radio industry needs to evolve as well — or, better yet, we need to lead from the front. Wherever somebody wants to listen to music or spoken-word programming, we need to be there.
What people should know about this profession:
It’s an eclectic mix of business and creative personalities. That’s not a comfortable mix for everybody, but we really enjoy the diverse people and projects that we experience on a daily basis. Also, while we have normal 8 to 5 office hours, it’s also a 24/7/365 business. If a piece of technology fails or a software program has a glitch at 3 a.m. on Christmas, someone still has to fix it. We’re never closed for business.
What I do for fun:
If I have a little time, I enjoy fishing or taking a long weekend in Colorado to hike. When we lived in Colorado, a friend that worked in television invited me to tackle a 14er (a 14,000-foot or higher peak) with him. It was one of the hardest things I had done, but I was hooked. There are over 50 peaks above 14,000 feet in Colorado, and I’ve been able to hike up 26 of them so far.
Amy and I were married just out of college. We have three daughters and a son. The youngest two daughters, Paige and Samantha, are here in high school. The oldest daughter, Andrea, just started medical school this fall at St. Louis University. Trevor, the oldest, studied accounting, like his mom, and works in Illinois. We also recently adopted a seven-year-old Samoyed who is in constant need of affection and could probably benefit from some doggy counseling, if such a thing exists.
Favorite place in Columbia:
Cosmo Park is a great place to relax and enjoy some exercise or family time. I also like exploring the local restaurants and coffee shops. Put a huge iced mocha in my hand and I’m a happy camper!
Accomplishment I’m most proud of:
Most people don’t know that I:
have an interest in foreign cultures and languages. Our youngest two children were adopted from China in 2001 and 2004, and Paige and I have both studied Mandarin for a few years. It’s a really tough language for a native English speaker because it’s a tonal language. I Skype a few times a month with a friend in Taiwan who’s been helping me, but I’m not very good — just too stubborn to quit.