Longtime KWMR host debuts film show

06/15/2017

Last month, Sally Phillips interviewed a producer of the documentary “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” which traces the influence of Native Americans in rock music. The conversation reignited the longtime KWMR host’s passion for discussing film. (She graduated with a degree in film three decades ago.) “Afterwards I went over to Lyons [Filmer, the station’s programing director] and said, ‘I want to do a show like this,’” she said. Her new show, called Magic Lantern, debuted on Wednesday morning. During the first half-hour, she spoke with Susan Oxtoby from the University of California, Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archives; in the second, she dove into the history of the Mill Valley Film Festival with Zoë Elton, the festival’s director of programming. Introducing the program, Ms. Phillips welcomed guests to “a new show about film, all things cinematic and all the glory of the Bay Area.” The monthly program will feature an array of guests and take a look at what films are screening in theaters in the region. She says she will focus on storytelling rather than technical analysis, with the hope of inspiring listeners to visit the big screen, an experience she feels is overlooked in the age of Netflix. Ms. Phillips, who works for the station as a part-time programing assistant, may be best known as “Liberacha,” the host of Happy Hour, a Friday evening program focused on mid-century jazz and cocktail recipes. But her interest in film stretches back to her earliest memories, when she and her older brother Richard would watch old scary movies (to their mother’s horror). She worked at theaters as a teenager in Los Angeles and went on to study film and film theory at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she trained to be a film critic. But she soon grew weary of it (“It’s not my job to tell people what a film means,” she said) and drifted toward radio, working as producer, host, engineer and developer for KPFA in Berkeley for 15 years. Some of Ms. Phillips’s favorite films tend to be noir (she considers Otto Preminger’s 1944 classic “Laura” her favorite flick) and she calls “Pan’s Labyrinth” a “perfect movie” for its mixture of dark fantasy and hideous history. When going to the theater, she doesn’t mind going alone. She recalls the euphoria she felt after stumbling upon a showing of “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” on a trip to Paris. “It was such a reverie,” she said. “I’m in Paris and I’m looking at David Bowie–I was so happy!” Magic Lantern airs monthly on Wednesdays from 10 to 11 a.m. on KWMR.