Brainerd Area News

One of the Lakes Area’s Broadcasting Greats Has Passed Away


Hugh Phillips, former News Director and morning show co-host at WJJY, passed away Saturday April 20th at the age of 87. Hugh spent forty-four years in broadcasting – the last seventeen at WJJY. A native of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, Hugh attended Brown Institute in Minneapolis in the 1950’s. Hugh started his career at a radio station in Medford, Wisconsin in 1959. From there, he went to Owatonna, Minnesota, where he established his reputation as an all-around broadcaster – as an announcer, production manager, newscaster, and sportscaster. Hugh then returned to Brown Institute as an instructor, and later as placement director. After a number of years at Brown Institute, he purchased and operated a station in Florida.

Hugh moved back to Minnesota in 1986 and was hired as the News Director at WJJY. Within a couple of years, Hugh was sharing morning show duties with me, and became so much more that just a co-worker. Hugh became a close friend; we golfed, fished, snowmobiled, attended events and socialized together with our wives. (Hugh’s wife Jo passed away several years ago.) Some of my fondest memories of Hugh include the remote broadcasts from countless locations in the Lakes Area, the many parades we marched in, the chili cook-offs, the county fair appearances, emceeing events, and even a donkey basketball game or two. But what I really enjoyed about Hugh was the same thing that many of you who remember Hugh also enjoyed…that infectious laugh!! Something would get us started, and thanks to Hugh’s funny, wheezy laugh, we could not stop laughing -to the point of not being able to talk! There were many mornings where both of us had tears of laughter running down our cheeks. Hugh was loved and respected by everyone at WJJY and the community; it was truly an honor to have worked so closely with one of the great broadcasters in Minnesota.


The Memorial Service will be held Thursday, May 9th at 11:00, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, May 8th, from 4-8:00 at the Anderson Funeral Home, and also one hour prior to the service at the church on Thursday. Burial will be at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls. Arrangements are with the Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria.

I shed a few tears when I heard of Hugh’s passing, but as the tears rolled down my cheeks, I started to smile, remembering the many mornings working with Hugh when tears also rolled down my cheeks – the tears of laughter, caused by working with the one and only Hugh Phillips.