WAMU 88.5 : Support

Volunteer Spotlight: Phil Brannen: Going The Extra Mile for AU and Public Radio

There’s something about Phil Brannen’s voice. You can pick up on it even after only one or two minutes of speaking with him. It’s the vocal intonations of someone who seems to be a radio broadcasting natural. And there’s a good reason for that. In the early 2000s, when he worked full-time in computer support in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State University, Phil moonlighted part-time as an announcer at WPSU.

“I did Monday evening and Sunday morning. On Sunday morning I would do (NPR’s) ‘Weekend Edition, Sunday,’” says Phil. “I would do time and temperature, community announcements, and announce the underwriters.”

As part of his degree studies in Film and Video as an undergraduate at Penn State, Phil would do voiceovers for his documentaries. “After screenings of my documentaries, people often told me, ‘You have a great voice. You should be on CNN!’” he recalls.

And even now as a Membership Campaign Volunteer and WAMU Ambassador, Phil gets told much the same thing. “In the community room during the campaigns while answering the phones you sit four to a table, and other volunteers often say to me, ‘You have a good voice,’ as I am reading the script from the pledge form,” says Phil.

When Phil isn’t at the station, he really isn’t very far away. Since 2008 he has been Manager of Web Systems for the Office of the Provost at American University. In this role he manages the Provost’s web site and interfaces with content publishers in each of the Vice Provost’s offices and various Provost units.

“I contribute to marketing efforts around summer sessions and online learning, and support AU Abroad and Abroad at AU as well as the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies,” says Phil.

So Phil is someone who not only works at American University by day, but also goes the extra mile by volunteering at the university’s public radio affiliate. He started out by answering phones at membership campaigns but went on to serve as a WAMU Ambassador.

Phil goes the extra mile in other ways as well. Although he was heavyset and not inclined to athletics when he was growing up, Phil is currently an avid bicyclist. You often can find him on the Capital Crescent Trail. “I hop on the trail and ride into Georgetown and grab lunch and then ride back.”

In October 2000, Phil achieved a special kind of personal best: he ran the Marine Corps Marathon.

“I was at a marathon running expo the night before the race, and Jeff Galloway, who wrote a popular column for ‘Runner’s World’ magazine, had a booth where he was selling books and signing autographs,” remembers Phil. “I went up and took a picture with him and asked for advice as a first-time runner, and his advice was, ‘Get with one of my pacing groups.’”

The next morning on race day, Phil lined up at the starting line with the large six-hour pacing group that had gathered, but then he ran ahead with a smaller group of around six people when he found the initial pace too slow. He ended up being one of only two people in that pacing group who finished the race, coming in at five hours 29 minutes and 3 seconds.

“My family was expecting me to come in at six hours, so they missed me crossing the finish line,” says Phil. “But it was nice to have them supporting me at various points along the course.”

And Phil discovered another useful marathon tip. “I read a book that said to put your name on your running bib,” says Phil. “People were coming out of bars in Georgetown yelling ‘Go, Phil, go,’ encouraging me to finish the race,” recalls Phil. “Aside from the accomplishment, it was rewarding to see that sense of community.”

Phil is as enthusiastic about his volunteer roles at the station as he is talking about the race. “I find it very rewarding and would suggest that people get involved in other facets of the station,” says Phil. “I want to get involved in the production side of things.”

With your dedication and enthusiasm to both the university and public radio, Phil, we have no doubt that one day you will.

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