Monday, April 05, 2010
Remembering Bob Phillips
Several years ago, I bought a couple of videocassettes at the Carthage Friend of the Library's monthly used book sale and found a pleasant surprise on each of them.
The labeling on the cassettes indicated they featured Audie Murphy westerns and nostalgic for those movies, which I had watched on Saturday nights when I was growing up, I put the first one into the VCR and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Not only did the tape include an Audie Murphy shoot 'em up, but it also had a complete KODE newscast from the 1980s.
For those who can't take their news without the usual mixture of glitzy graphics and banter between anchors, the newscast would have been unbearable. The graphics were primitive and that's being generous. The conversation between the anchors was short and to the point.
For those, however, who like their news straightforward and to the point, this videotape was a true blast from the past. When Bob Phillips was anchoring the news, you never had a doubt that everything he said was true. He was not one of those blow-dried anchors with the gift of playful banter that we see so often on today's newscasts, the result of focus groups that have told us that we have to have male and female co-anchors, trading off on stories and forcing meaningless chatter on us at times when another news story would be far more useful.
In fact, to look at him, Bob Phillips should never have been anywhere near the anchor's desk. He did not look like a male model and his voice, distinctive and authoritative, but probably ponderously slow to today's viewers, conveyed the seriousness and respect he had for both his viewers and the news.
He was a radio voice for television and even at the time when he graced the local airwaves, he was already an antique and those of us who watched KODE during those years appreciated the value of that antique.
Even after his days of anchoring the news came to an end, Bob Phillips continued to add weight to KODE's newscast with his much-remembered features, "The Phillips Files," with their examinations of the Joplin area's past and unusual, interesting local people.
Bob Phillips died Saturday at age 78, bringing a close to an era when the story, not the pretty packaging, came first.
I miss those days
During the past few years, we were limited to seeing Bob Phillips on advertising for Always Buying Books, a perfect fit for Bob Wolfe's business and guaranteed positive memories for those who remembered Mr. Phillips' days with KODE.