Phil Hendrie retired from radio in June 2006. Since he wasn't broadcast in the Bay Area I listened to the mp3s on his website, mainly while working out. I just listened to the final mp3, and I am now sad. Fortunately the website now has years of archived material which I'll be able to listen to during future workouts, and when I eventually run out I can always switch over to Coast to Coast AM.
The Phil Hendrie show was one of the last of what Phil called "content-based" radio shows (at least on AM radio). Unlike the rest of AM radio, which seems to consist almost exclusively of conservative talk show hosts reading daily faxes from the RNC (or misguided liberal hosts being just as obnoxious), Phil's show was a bona fide comedy program and had a very strange premise. Essentially, each show segment would include a guest with a controversial, offensive, and completely unsupportable position on something ranging from national and local politics to mundane family affairs. Phil would talk to the guest and slowly flesh out what the guest was talking about, revealing the ridiculousness of the topic little by little. Ultimately, listeners would call in and argue with the guests, and the guests would be even more offensive to the callers. Only the thing is, see, the guests were fictional characters. And not only were they fictional characters, but they were being voiced in real-time by Phil himself. The callers were never in on the joke, but the general audience was. The result was something bizarre and hilarious. Significantly, like a ventriloquist with an annoying puppet, Phil was able to take the moral high ground against himself, including standing up for the callers and apologizing to them on behalf of the guests. In one breath he would antagonize the caller and in the following breath express righteous outrage.
I began listening to Phil during my first year of law school, when I didn't have a TV and I'd listen to talk radio while studying. As with most listeners, I was fooled the first few times I listened, and "got" it only after I realized that Phil was interrupting the guests without actually talking over them. Listening closely I was able to hear Phil's voice in the guests (he didn't use any special effects for the voices -- just talked into a phone and altered his voice naturally), and once I realized what was going on I became an instant fan. During the first broadcast I listened to, Phil's character was a female gradeschool teacher who had told her students that more planes would fly into buildings if they didn't do their homework.
Phil often talked about his difficulties dealing with the radio business, since his show was unique and didn't fit into any specific molds. He was on KNEW in San Francisco briefly before being dumped in favor of Bill O'Reilly. So he retired from radio to pursue other creative outlets (including, fortunately, adding more content to his website). It's unfortunate that there's so little room for genuine creativity on commercial radio. Hopefully Phil will find more acceptance elsewhere and continue to generate his delightfully inappropriate material.