Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 225


Phillip Neil “Phil” Johnson was born August 14, 1919 in Standish, Maine and grew up in Westbrook, Maine. His parents were Clarence and Mary (Jesson?) Johnson. Due to illness, he was confined to his bed until 3rd grade. He won a scholarship to Tufts University for theater, graduating in 1943. Phil began working at a radio news station in 1942 and later became the news director for Maine Radio News Service. He first met Muskie in Waterville in the late 1940s. Through the 1950s, he followed Muskie’s career as governor. He played a large role in the transition from radio to television news. His news program (Channel 5) was the first on Maine television in 1953.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: family background and education; the Danish community; theater at Tufts; getting started in radio; competition among newspapers in Maine; first impressions of Ed Muskie; entrance of television into news; Muskie’s compatibility for television; Muskie’s 1954 gubernatorial campaign; reporting on the turning point in campaign; Don Nicoll; influence of television on politics; television and the newspaper in coexistence; coverage of Muskie in New Hampshire; and Steve Muskie sliding down the banister at the Blaine house.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.