10 Questions with ... Sam Phillips
July 27, 2010
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Model/Actress/Producer/Penthouse Pet. Hosted several TV shows; began in radio with appearances on "The Big Show with Steve Mason and John Ireland" at KXTA-A (Xtra Sports 1150)/Los Angeles in 1998, followed by hosting several shows (including "Sheena and Sam" and "The Single Life") on KLSX/Los Angeles. Currently hosts "The Single Life with Sam Phillips" on HotTalkLA.com and MAV TV. For full credits, see her IMDB listing.
1. Okay, so... why radio? You've done (and still do) a lot of TV, modeling, Penthouse, acting... all visual. So, what drew you to a non-visual medium?
Are you kidding? A job I don't have to bathe to do? And I don't have to put on make up, or do my hair, or be concerned one iota about what I look like? You're talking my dream job! I have made my living off what I looked like for 30 plus years and there is no greater pleasure knowing people see the value of what I have to say and judge me on my smarts and how quick and funny I can be instead of how I look with my clothes off on film, at the ripe old age of 44. I cannot tell you how freeing and liberating and rewarding that is being stripped to your bare voice, way more than being stripped to your bare body, trust me.
2. You're in the business of giving advice, which brings up the obvious question -- how did you get your expertise? What made you confident enough to help others?
I am a self-proclaimed sexpert. Let me start off by stating that disclaimer. My expertise comes from hands on experience, I've banged hundreds and hundreds of guys in my heyday; I dated a few less, made out with a ton more, and definitely bl-- most. I like the art of pleasure and get off on sharing my secrets I've learned with others. I've hosted several television shows on the topics of sex, dating and relationships; the nationally syndicated network morning talk show "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus"; the factual series exploring human sexuality "Sexcetera" on the Playboy Channel; and these days I'm the Executive Producer/Producer and host of the comedy talk show "The Single Life with Sam Phillips" on Mav TV, 26 half hour episodes seen in 33 million homes. I also have made pretty much every mistake in the book pertaining to sex, dating and relationships and use myself as an example of what not to do so people listening don't have to make the same ones. And then lastly, I am genuinely interested in people and their stories. I listen, I offer good solutions, and I do not judge anyone.
As for how did I get to be confident enough to help others? When all of my friends, even acquaintances would turn to me for advice about their lives I discovered my living on the street-smarts, all the things I survived both good and bad, taught me a lot about human nature and patterns of behavior and I realized we are all pretty similar men and women, we just communicate our wants and needs differently. I am confident in what I know, and I am unafraid to speak my mind. Since I don't judge others when they tell me their secrets, I don't expect to be judged back when I give them advice. The key is being able to hear what everyone is really saying underneath what they are trying to say. All I know is I can do it, and there's nothing I love more than being able to make a difference in someone's life and helping people not be in pain.
3. "The Single Life" has gone through a few changes over the years, including different co-hosts, moving from terrestrial radio to online, adding the TV version. Other than the medium, what would you say is the biggest change in the show from the beginning to now?
So much has changed with "The Single Life" since it's early days with co-host Gary Garver at 97.1. First, to clarify, the show was originally created by PD Jack Silver for Gary Garver when Gary approached him with a sponsor for a show, Gary was the consummate single guy, so the theme and show made sense. Soon after Gary was on-air, Jack orchestrated my return to radio (I had taken a break after quitting my show co-hosted by Sheena Metal after 3 years at 97.1), and he paired me with Gary. We had a great 3 year run together, Gary and I, and at that time, Gary really wanted to take a break from working overnights; he'd been working Stern for 14 years getting up at 2 am, and then after Stern left terrestrial, he and I were doing the live 3-5am shift preceding Adam Carolla's morning show. Gary was over it and quit. At that point I had invested a lot of money into the show for our lawyer, trademark, and websites, etc. I told Gary he could keep doing "The Single Life," just give me back the money I invested in it. He told me to keep "The Single Life."
So I did. And it took a long time to fill his seat. I had all kinds of celebrities sit on and co-host with me... Arsenio Hall, Lorenzo Lamas, Pauly Shore, Esai Morales, Judd Nelson, Billy West, Hal Sparks, the list goes on. I also had a bunch of radio greats sit with me too: Danny Bonaduce, JV from JV and The Doghouse, JR Edwards, and that's when I met my now co-host, Chris Leary. Our mutual friend Lisa Stanley (morings at KEARTH) recommended him. Chris and I have amazing timing and chemistry and we are true friends and supporters of every endeavor the other one does. Our radio show is funny first and informative second. He's the ying to my yang and I think he's the perfect partner. We run a tight ship on-air and take lots and lots of calls.
When I made my TV deal, I had to rethink how I presented each of my hour long topics (edited to a half hour TV show), it wasn't just audibly painting a picture, now I had to have eye candy too. Taking a page from my idol Stern, I surrounded myself with an exceptionally good looking cast of characters whom I incorporated into the radio show to get them "air time" on camera. I also showed a lot of what happens behind the scenes of running a radio show, and how each person has a hand in making it all come together whether you normally hear them on air or not. That premise inspired me to start podcasting when 97.1 flipped formats; I wanted to do an uncensored behind-the-scenes version of the radio/television show where I'd concentrate on the crew more and use their personal lives and daily dilemmas as content.
I think the biggest change in the show for me personally has to be that I used to cover a lot of water cooler topics using the news as a springboard, where as now I exploit and use my own sexcapades as topics much more.
4. Is it hard to do a relationship show when things might not be ideal in your own life at times? Do you feel that it's best to hide nothing and put everything out there, or do you hold your personal life back a little? What works for you?
It's funny, I am a totally open book. I reveal things about myself people can't believe, I have no shame and no blame but myself for the things I have done in my life. When I was hosting the show with Gary, I used to talk all about my past but not so much what I was currently going through at the time, which was a tumultuous and unhealthy relationship that eventually turned abusive and then I gained the strength to leave for good. This was a 6-year on-again off-again hell, and I made the decision to not share anything on-air, for a few reasons: One, I was being paid to entertain people, not depress them. Two, I was there to give advice on the radio not seek it. Three, who would possibly respect me and take any of my advice if they only knew what I was putting up with. Again, I'm being paid to entertain, not complain. Guys can listen to their girlfriends or wives for that. They listen to me to get a boner, not a buzz kill.
On the TV version of the show, each half hour episode has 2 celebrity guests on it and I cater the topic to them, but of course I chime in with my own personal stories pertaining to the same topics. And then for the uncensored podcast version, I reveal in far too much detail every person I'm currently banging or want to bang, minus their last names of course. But I'll tell you this, I will never put myself in another situation or be in a relationship where I am too afraid or too embarrassed to talk about my personal life ever again. The only adjustments I make these days is with the language I use to describe it depending on the medium.
5. Who's been your favorite celebrity guest?
God, that's the hardest question to answer! Aside from the few celebs I named who have all co-hosted the show with me multiple times (Arsenio, Esai, Lorenzo, Pauly, Judd, Danny, Billy, and Hal), I'll throw a couple extra out at you... Dr. Drew, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Ice T and his girl Coco, Robert Schimmel, Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, The Barbi Twins, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Lou Ferrigno, Jon Lovitz, Shauna Sand, Justine Bateman, Kerri Kasem, Dr. 90210, Mystery and Matador, C. Thomas Howell, Rondell Sheridan, Jeff Conaway and his girl Vikki, Riki Rachtman, Daisy De La Hoya, Bruce Buffer, Gretchen Bonaduce, Cherie Curry, Terri Nunn, Martha Davis, Ron Jeremy, Marcus Allen, and TC Izlam. There's more... way more. These were just off the top of my head.
6. How do you generally prep for your show? What resources do you use, and what are you looking for when you do it?
If I have a guest on the TV or radio show, I'll research their career and personal life online, I'll ask around and find out cool stuff no-one knows about or I'll bring up something we experienced together. Usually the celebs I have on I know personally and the one thing I do w/every guest is make sure the boundaries are established before the show starts. I don't ambush people, or put them on the hot seat and force them to talk about something they are not comfortable with. I also make sure I know before hand what they want to promote and I plug the shit out of it.
I LOVE reading "rag mags" on the toilet in the morning, The Enquirer, The Star, The Globe, all great places to find celebrity gossip. Same with TMZ and Perez Hilton. I watch the news every day, I skip around, MSNBC, CNN, even Fox. I look online every morning. I check Yahoo, Drudge, AllAccess and LARadio. Then I check Facebook and Twitter (okay, maybe I check those first). I'm looking for a story, news piece or topic that will resonate with the listener, something the demo can relate to, a situation most of us has experienced and can share compelling stories about, something we all have in common. And then for the podcast, I make sure to have an "active" week so I have plenty of content to talk about!
7. You were part of the crew at KLSX in the talk years, and, right now, after the demise of the "Free FM" stations, there aren't a lot of stations doing that kind of talk anymore. How optimistic or pessimistic are you that there'll be room on terrestrial radio for non-political, personality talk? Do you think online and podcasting -- no censorship, freedom to talk about anything without format restrictions -- is where this kind of talk can prosper?
After 97.1 flipped many of us lost our jobs, but more importantly we lost the last bastion of FM talk stations on this coast. The horizon was and still is bleak, which is why a bunch of us former co-workers (Jack Sullivan, Rich Boerner, Ron Escarsega and myself) started our own FM talk station on the Internet, called Hot Talk LA. With the advent of WiFi and WiMax availability in cars I foresee the Internet as the future of how "radio" will be distributed, gone will be the archaic towers and their signals. With thousands of music and talk radio websites available to listen to in real time with minimal or no commercials, I can only speculate the Internet is the distribution wave of the future for all media.
As for it being uncensored, I think "Hot Talk" as Fm Talk is also known, is best served and digested in it's rawest form. That being said, as a host I love being censored, it makes you way more creative with your words and usually it's a lot funnier finding the politically correct way to dance around an explicit description. But as far as the listeners go, they like it direct and they like it simple. They want you to say the word you'd normally say in conversation (or in bed), at least when it comes to sex, dating and relationships. I find you connect more when you are speaking like a real person, especially with the expectation of the Internet being uncensored.
8. What, and/or who, makes you laugh these days?
My cat. And youtube.
9. Simple question for an expert in the field: What IS sexy? What's the one thing that makes someone, or something, sexy?
Sexy is confidence. You can be overweight, short, bald and be incredibly sexy to me. Looks mean nothing, being comfortable in your own skin is a huge turn-on no matter how much skin you have.
10. What's the most valuable lesson you've learned in your radio career?
1. Be available and willing to do any shift in any market at any station at any time.
2. Don't be afraid to ask for what you're worth, all they can say is no and you'll negotiate what they're willing to offer.
3. Dead air isn't necessarily a bad thing! "Let the room breathe," in the immortal words of my mentor, Jack Silver.
4. Never burn a bridge. The person you fuck on your way up will fuck you harder on your way down.