visits to his father's law office made an impression
on him. There was little question in Phil's
mind that he would follow in his father's footsteps.
After all, his grandfather was also a lawyer - and
a state Supreme Court justice for a time - and his
oldest brother entered law school just as Phil was
heading off to college. But something happened
after Phil arrived at the university. This
career path, which seemed to be on autopilot, suddenly
felt all wrong. He was distressed over the
uneasy feeling and fretted for weeks over what to
do about it. As he pondered his future in
the dorm room of a friend, this friend made a simple
observation that would change his life forever. He noted that Phil had a "deep voice"
and asked, "Why don't you get into radio?"
utterance struck him like a lightning bolt.
He had never considered the possibility but suddenly
it was clear that radio was where he needed to be.
After consulting with a college advisor, he learned
that the university didn't offer a major in broadcasting.
He searched for an alternative and found what appeared
to be the most direct route into the business -
broadcasting school. He immediately enrolled
and within a year's time had landed his first job
Stop - Nashville
spent several years in a small market near his hometown.
Then came his first big break - a radio job
in Raleigh, North Carolina. From there, the
company promoted him to program director of a station
in Greensboro but Phil had his eye on Music City.
He applied for a job in Nashville and made the cut
down to the final two candidates. Having never
met the station manager, he was offered the job
over the phone but the other candidate had the tenacity
to fly himself in from Florida to meet station management.
They liked him, hired him on the spot and phoned
Phil with the bad news.
As fate would have it, Phil found himself at another
crossroad. Shortly after the missed opportunity
in Nashville, he found himself in the middle of
a management house-cleaning in Greensboro.
Not only had he lost the job he wanted, he lost
the job he had. Vowing never to let unfamiliarity
cheat him out of another job, he packed up everything
he owned and moved to Nashville on faith - without
a job. Within a week, he had landed a full-time
job selling memberships at a health club and a part-time
job with the station that almost hired him before. That part-time radio job became full-time in three
months time and Phil was back in the game.
worked his way up the food-chain in Nashville radio,
switching to WLAC-FM. Three years after hitting
town, he had one of the highest rated morning shows
in Nashville. By 1991, he had designs on talk
radio but had no experience in the format.
After convincing the program director of their sister
station, WLAC-AM, to allow him to substitute for
a weekend program, the PD liked what he heard.
The next Monday he announced to Phil that he was
firing the current morning talk host and Phil was
to be his replacement. Hesitant to jump in
with both feet, Phil did double duty. He
hosted the morning talk show on WLAC-AM and the
afternoon music show on WLAC-FM. Just as he
severed his ties with the FM and went full-time
on the talk station, the new program director wanted
him back on the music side. Phil reluctantly
headed back across the hall to do the FM's morning
show but music radio had begun to wear on him. He wanted a bigger challenge and he got it when
Gaylord Entertainment jumped into the talk radio
1995, country music behemoth, Gaylord Entertainment,
bought a struggling talk station out of bankruptcy. Familiar with Phil's earlier work in talk radio,
WWTN offered him the job as morning host. Leaving a highly successful music morning show on
WLAC-FM was a big gamble but Phil rolled the dice. The gamble paid off. The Phil Valentine
Show debuted on WTN in June of 1995 and found
an instant audience, drawing more listeners than
both competing morning talk shows combined.
the meantime, Phil had been moonlighting, doing
television commercials. One of his commercials
found its way onto a demo tape at Film House,
a production studio that specialized in producing
TV commercials for radio stations. A station
in Philadelphia had chosen Phil as their TV spokesman. When the owner and general manager came to Nashville
for the shoot, they listened to Phil on the radio.
As it turned out, their morning host had just announced
he was leaving for Detroit. The day after
the shoot, they called and offered Phil a job as
morning host on WWDB-FM in Philadelphia, the fifth
largest radio market in the country. He turned
them down. With a wife and two young boys
at home, the Valentines had no desire to uproot
spent four months auditioning talk show hosts from
around the country for the coveted position. Each
host spent several days in Philadelphia filling
in on the morning show. The highly-publicized
talent search ran through dozens of hosts and was
the talk of Philadelphia. At the end of the
run, WWDB management decided that Phil was the only
one for the job and made another plea, despite the
fact that Phil had declined their invitation to
participate in the on-air auditions. They
convinced him to merely come to Philadelphia for
the weekend. There would be no obligation. At the very least, he would get a chance to see
the sights of Philly for free. Phil agreed. Once
there, he had a change of heart. Philadelphia
was nothing like he imagined. He instantly hit it
off with station personnel and loved the area.
Back home, he discussed things with his wife.
Like the lightning bolt that got him into radio,
they both felt led to make the move. Phil
accepted, on one condition. If the station
was sold and either party wasn't happy, they would
pay him for 18 months. Confident that no such
sale would take place, the station manager agreed.
his first day on the air, Phil was cautioned by
WWDB staff members that Philadelphians were very
wary of strangers, especially on the radio. He kept hearing terms like "parochial"
and "provincial" to describe them.
His predecessor, who hailed from Detroit, had spent
six years in the morning host chair. Although
he was deemed to be enormously successful, he was
in ninth place in the ratings, considered amazing
in that market for a morning talk show. Indeed,
the news media appeared to be quite "provincial."
The newspaper account of Phil's arrival in Philadelphia
made special note of his "southern accent."
spite of the warnings, the Philadelphia audience
quickly warmed to Phil. Within six months,
he had taken the morning show from ninth place to
third in the market. He was now the most listened
to talk show host in Philadelphia, outperforming
talk show hosts with decades of experience in the
market. Brought on board to combat the competition's
recent signing of Don Imus to the morning slot,
Phil's audience was now eight times the audience
of Imus. In his first year of eligibility,
he won three Philadelphia AIR Awards (Achievement
In Radio) for Best Talk Show, Best
New Talent and Best Morning Show Host or
Team. It was the first time in the history
of the Philadelphia AIR Awards that one person had
won three awards in a single year.
station, despite the fact that it was, on the whole,
performing far below the standard set by Phil, had
attracted the attention of hungry radio companies
eager for a larger slice of the Philadelphia pie.
The station was sold and the new owners had their
own ideas about how to run it. First, they
wanted Phil to emulate the style of "shock
jock" Howard Stern who was riding the wave
of his first movie. Phil refused to stoop
to that level and the new owners and Phil decided
to part company. They honored his contract
and sent him on his way with 18 months severance
morning show tanked without Phil at the helm.
Within six months, the show had dropped from Phil's
high of 3rd place to 17th. The new morning
host, and the program director who hired him, were
shown the door. After another year, the owners
ditched the talk format all together, killing off
the oldest FM talker in the nation, in favor of
biding his time and weighing his options, Phil was
asked to fill in at WABC in New York. He had
been in discussions with several other stations
around the country from Milwaukee to Atlanta to
the competing talk station in Philadelphia.
But with the luxury of 18 months of pay ahead, he
was in no hurry to rush into anything. What
he really wanted to do was return to Nashville.
Ironically, WLAC had gotten wind of the changes
in Philly and, a month after his dismissal at WWDB,
placed a call on the outside chance that Phil would
want to return. It was exactly the call he'd
been waiting for.
April of 1998, Phil made the journey back to the
city he loved, just one month after the birth of
his third son in Philadelphia. He blew into
town on the very same day a series of tornadoes
blew through downtown Nashville. He slipped
into his new job like an old shoe and quickly began
his ascent back atop the Nashville radio ratings.
In 1999, he was called back to New York to receive
the Silver World Medal for Best Talk Show Host
from the prestigious New York Festivals Radio
Competition which judges talent from all over
the world. The following year, he made another
trip to the Big Apple to pick up their Gold World
in Nashville, Phil made a national name for himself
by helping lead the now famous Tennessee Tax Revolt.
Phil joined other talk show hosts in taking on Tennessee's
Republican governor and Democratic legislature as
they tried, time and again, to push through a state
income tax. After several years of battles,
skirmishes and all-out war, the issue reached a
fevered pitch in the summer of 2002. Confident
he had the necessary number lined up, the Speaker
of the House called for a vote. Several "yes"
votes succumbed to the throngs of protestors outside
the Capitol that had been energized by talk radio. The vote was held open for two hours while the Speaker
tried to repair the damage but he could not prevail. The measure was removed and the citizens of Tennessee
were spared the burden of an income tax.
2003, Phil was at the top of his game. He
had received a total of eight Nashville AIR awards.
His was the most listened to political talk
show in the city, drawing a larger audience than
all other hosts, both local and national, including
Rush Limbaugh. Cumberland House,
a best-seller publishing company, approached Phil
about writing a book. Based on his conservative
philosophy, Right From The Heart: The ABC's
of Reality in America, was released in September
of 2003. Within just a few weeks of its release,
it hit the Top 100 of Amazon.com's bestselling books.
December of 2003, Phil announced to his stunned
audience that he was leaving WLAC radio after 5
1/2 years. He spent his 6-month hiatus writing
another book. Phil returned to the air on
July 8, 2004 at SuperTalk 99.7WTN in Nashville,
almost 9 years to the day after The Phil Valentine
Show debuted in Nashville. Within three
months he was back on top as the most listened to
political commentator in Nashville, local or syndicated.
His second book, Tax Revolt, was released
in March of 2005. His third, The Conservative's Handbook, was released in 2008. It is an updated and revised version of his original book, Right From the Heart.
January 2, 2007, Westwood One launched The Phil
Valentine Show into syndication. The
show is now heard on over 110 radio stations across
the country through the Cumulus Radio Networks (formerly the ABC Radio Network) which now owns Westwood One.
On January 27, 2012, Rocky Mountain Pictures released Valentine's documentary, An Inconsistent Truth, in theaters. Since then the movie has won three film festivals including the Nevada Film Festival. It was released on DVD in 2013 and shot immediately to the #1 position on Amazon.com's documentary chart. It is the 20th top-grossing nature documentary at the box office in U.S. history.
tuned. The most exciting chapter is about
to be written.