Remembering Wes Phillips, "Prose Craftsman"

by Marc Mickelson | August 28, 2016

Photo courtesy of John Atkinson and Stereophile.


e at The Audio Beat were saddened to learn today that Wes Phillips, audio writer and editor best known for his work for Stereophile, unexpectedly passed away yesterday morning. I cannot write a proper obituary, because I don't know enough of the facts of Wes's life. I do know that he and I were close in age -- in our 50s -- and that he went to college at the University of Virginia. When he passed away, Wes had been living in a long-term-care facility because his health had been poor for some time. Over the course of the last two years, however, he and I had traded e-mail and spoken on the phone about his doing some writing for The Audio Beat, a proposition that delighted me.

I first got to know Wes when we worked together in the early 2000s, after his long stint at Stereophile. More defining than any of his audio opinions was his seriousness about his job in the press and his writing. Wes was a true pro -- unapologetically strict about the role of the press. A deadline was sacred to Wes -- set in granite. But even greater than this, Wes was a true prose craftsman -- the best of the breed in the audio press, in fact. He wrote with directness and wit, mastering the art of finding just the right words to make his point -- and using only those that were necessary. I could always count on receiving Wes's copy on time, and I knew that whatever he submitted would be complete and communicate without distraction. One of the many defining lines from Wes: "I didn't have the time to write short, so I wrote long."

Among my feelings right now, having just learned of Wes's passing, is a selfish one: I really wanted to publish his work, just so I could read it again.

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