Phillips got his first break in radio when station WSPY-FM, Plano Illinois went on the air in 1974. He and his classmates produced a weekly high school radio hour for Plano (IL) High School.
In 1976 Phillips began work at WSIE-FM, Edwardsville while attending Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He performed his radio internship at the Capital Information Bureau, covering politics from the press room of the Illinois State Capitol. He finished college in December, 1979.
He was hired as a full-time reporter two weeks later at WTAX/WDBR-FM, Springfield Illinois. There he learned and honed his experience covering courts and learning the beginning steps of investigative reporting, exposing waste in local politics and tracking down a conman who bilked the city.
In 1984, Phillips was hired to anchor and cover courts at WJBC/WBNQ Bloomington Illinois. In 1987, Phillips became the youngest member of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association to be elected President.
In February 1988, Phillips switched to television and was hired as a reporter for WMBD Television. He learned to use the television camera to expose waste and corruption in politics and government. Travels took him to Ecuador and Saudi Arabia.
In October 1992, the Phillips family left the friendly landscape of Illinois for the desert of Nevada as Phillips began work for KTNV Television.
Though it was a fascinating job, the tutorial in reporting on the gaming industry led Phillips to KTVI Television St. Louis where he reported on the new industry of riverboat gambling.
In 1996, Phillips got a call from KXAS Dallas where he was hired full time as an investigative reporter. During his two years with the station, Phillips broke stories on government waste, fraud and a huge underground fuel leak at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
In 1998, Phillips joined the syndicated show The News of Texas, a network newscast that covered stories of Texas interest for a nightly newscast.
Then in 2001, he joined the staff at KRLD, where he has covered hurricanes, executions, the shuttle explosion and a myriad of stories.
Phillips has been married to his wife, Cathy, since 1981. They are the proud parents of three grown children, Ben (married to Mary-Helen), Matt and Kimberly.
Phillips is the winner of 45 broadcast awards, including Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative reporting, spot news coverage and newsroom excellence.
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Hinkley graduated from Highland Park High School in 1973. School records show he was elected to the student council and was a member of the school’s Rodeo Club. He also had a fascination with poetry.