Phil Zachary, who has run the day-to-day operations of regional radio giant Curtis Media Group since 2007, is leaving to head a cluster of radio stations in Boston.
Zachary, 59, also is well-known for his community efforts, especially his role as co-chairman of the Friends of Wake County, the nonprofit group that is campaigning for voters to approve the $810 million school bond issue. Zachary also was a leader of the successful 2006 effort on behalf of a $970 million school bond issue.
Zachary isn't taking on his new job as vice president and market manager at Entercom Boston, which includes heading several radio stations plus The Boston Red Sox Radio Network, until Oct. 21 well after the Oct. 8 bond vote.
"I'm carrying that football across the goal line," Zachary said during a phone interview Thursday morning as he was heading to a speaking engagement before the Wake County Republican Women. "I have put a lot of my life into this for the last three months. It is very important to me and this community."
Zachary joined Curtis Media, which owns 25 radio stations across North Carolina and operates the North Carolina News Network, in 2002. Five years later he was named president and chief operating officer.
"We're in a great place right now," Zachary said. "I think over the last 11 years we have become regarded as one of the best mid-sized radio groups in America."
Don Curtis, chairman and CEO of Curtis Media, couldn't immediately be reached for comment on Zachary's departure and the plan to replace him.
Zachary said he's leaving a great job.
"If it all stopped here, I would thought this was as good as it gets," he said.
That said, he views his new position as "the absolute pinnacle" of what's he's been working towards in his 41-year radio career.
But it will also be challenging. The stations he's running in Boston include WEEI, which used to be the dominant sports station in Boston. But in recent years it's been toppled by a newcomer.
"There's a lot of work to be done there to get that turned around," he said. "Plus there are other stations in the building that have been sort of neglected as the star-child has fallen on tough times. We've got to get to work on those stations as well."
Zachary said of the Red Sox network he will head: "Because the (Red Sox) franchise is one of the most enduring in all of pro sports and the profound loyalty that New Englanders have for that team, it is one of the most profitable and influential" regional sports networks.
Boston is familiar territory for Zachary. He went to school at nearby Holy Cross and his first job as a on-air announcer on a part-time basis was at one of the stations he's heading: WAAF.
Entercom Boston is part of Entercom Communications, which has more than 100 stations in 23 markets nationwide, including San Franciso, Seattle and Denver.
Zachary made two career stopovers in Raleigh. From 1987-1996 he was general manager of local stations WRDU and WTRG.
He's currently on the board of directors of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and the board of trustees of Wake Technical Community College. He also serves on the board of visitors of the N.C. Children's Hospital.
"The sheer joy of being able to have some input into a community that listens and then responds with big thinking, that really is the toughest thing for me to leave," he said. "I have so come to embrace Raleigh and Wake County as home."