Phil Diamond – Media, Track Announcer

Phil DiamondBy Chad Meyer

Fresh out of college in Waterloo, Phil Diamond moved to Algona in 1950. After settling in to Algona he began working at the War Surplus Outlet store that in time would bear his name. Shortly after arriving in Algona, duty called and he left to serve his country in the Korean War.

When the war ended in 1953, Diamond returned to Algona and purchased the War Surplus Outlet, renaming it Diamonds. About a year later, the local radio station KLGA was founded and helped launch Diamond’s career as a race track public address announcer.

Diamond recalls that the station general manager stopped by the store in 1954 to convince the Diamond to advertise on the radio. KLGA offered Diamonds a rate of 50 cents for each 30 second commercial. After a lengthy discussion, a deal was struck to create a half hour show that would originate right from the Diamonds store every day. A direct line to the radio station was created and for the next several years Diamond started each Date with Diamonds broadcast with his signature line “It’s a great day in Algona!”

Over time, competition for advertising time on the new radio station grew and the Diamonds program decreased in length. Phil’s time on the microphone didn’t go away though as he helped KLGA with live broadcasts from the Kossuth County Fair. One of the highlights for Diamond was interviewing guests at the annual fair barbecue. He counts interviewing (and becoming great friends) with former Iowa governor Robert Ray as one of the great memories of time on the microphone.

During this time Diamonds was involved in the Algona racing scene selling military grade seat belts, goggles and other supplies to racers. Diamond recalls that then the best seat belts for racing were acquired from the military and cost nearly $25 new. Through Diamonds war surplus connections, he was able to obtain seat belts from salvaged military aircraft and sell them through his retail store for $4.

When Lamont Wellendorf began promoting the Algona race track and other facilities in 1961, he came by Diamonds to see if Phil was interested in becoming the tracks public address announcer. Diamond says he jumped at the chance to call the action at Wellendorf’s several race tracks.

Diamond was soon performing the track announcing duties at Algona, Mason City, Webster City and Cresco, Iowa. He recalls that it was such a fun time then and really enjoyed all the people involved in the sport. He says the Kossuth County area was fortunate to have tremendous drivers, builders and sponsors that helped build the sport into a community asset.

One of “Filthy Phil’s” (as he was called then) favorite events that he worked the microphone was the July 4th Interstate championships at the Cresco track that brought in over 110 competitors in just one class of cars. Other memories include ‘backward races’ in which the drivers navigated the speedway in reverse.

Diamond today spends his retirement years in the state of Washington, enjoying his days with his dog Buddy.