My Life In Media: Phil Hilton

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Phil Hilton, 40, is editor of men's weekly magazine 'Nuts'. He started reporting for the computer trade press before editing and launching a string of men's magazines. He enjoys listening to heavy metal and kickboxing (badly), and has a daughter, 5, and a son, 3.

Phil Hilton, 40, is editor of men's weekly magazine 'Nuts'. He started reporting for the computer trade press before editing and launching a string of men's magazines. He enjoys listening to heavy metal and kickboxing (badly), and has a daughter, 5, and a son, 3.

So what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

The Face was the magazine I wanted to work for. I wasn't really interested in writing or editing. I wanted to meet famous musicians and get into the clubs I was too poorly dressed to enter under normal circumstances.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

We were a Guardian household. I was a very keen broadsheet reader at that age. I had loads of time, a tremendous attention span and a mature interest in international things have changed.

And what were you favourite television and radio programmes?

At 15 I was a half-arsed suburban punk rocker, so telly was commercial crap made by "the system". I compromised for Blake's 7. I still base much of my management style on Blake. Radio was John Peel. It was the golden age of Half Man, Half Biscuit and the TV Personalities.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

I've got a digital radio so I'm very promiscuous. I'm now switching between the Today programme, Virgin Classic Rock, Virgin Pete and Geoff (who we do a slot with admittedly), Kerrang! and Danny Baker on BBC London.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

We have Sky News and Sky Sports News on in the office all day. I check into which is a brilliant source of stupid news ... in many ways the best kind.

What is the best thing about your job?

Nuts is all about taking the funny, trivial and absurd very seriously. So the whole day is brilliant in a sixth-form smoking room sort of a way. People say: "We couldn't get the bear costume - will the chicken outfit do?" and we have a big old meeting about it. Tremendous.

And the worst?

I'm not a great one for the those moments when you have to tell people off. It's not that I'm caring or anything - just addicted to being liked.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Nuts's circulation figure. Easily. Whatever people with hardly read arty magazines say, there's nothing like big newsstand success.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

My life is a feast of embarrassment. Only recently I gave a lunchtime lecture at the request of HR. I prepared slides and ran the script past my bosses in case I was giving away secrets and everything. Four people turned up. Four.

At home, what do you tune in to?

I'm a metal fan. I look for rock and strange music on the radio. Kerrang! I listen to but it's disappointingly soft. There's loads of very weird stuff on Radio 3's Late Junction.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

Sundays I cover the whole house in papers. News of the World is still king of the tabloids and I take both the Indy and The Observer for recipes, health tips etc. Uncut nestles by my bed.

Name one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

I'd like to see a magazine I helped to launch become an international success - partly so that I could travel extensively at my employer's expense.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?

I've always fancied running a sandwich bar. My palate is finely tuned to the slightest snack innovation.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Mike Soutar. Apart from all the obvious, he can sketch covers freehand - they're always great and to scale. He does them matchbox size and they blow up perfectly. That's cool.


1988: Joins computer title Datalink as a reporter.

1990: Moves to Personnel Management (now People Management) trade paper. Begins freelancing for City Limits, FHM and newspapers.

1993: Appointed deputy and features editor of FHM by virtue of sharing a flat with previous deputy editor.

1995: Joins Men's Health as managing editor virtually from launch. Oversees change from bi-monthly to monthly publication and soaring sales. Appointed editor in 1997.

2000: Recruited by IPC to launch Later, for men who like clubbing and gardening, and wins launch editor of the year at the British Society of Magazine Editors' awards. The title "unsurprisingly" closes two years later: "[Readers didn't] want to be reminded they're getting older."

2002: Recruited to become editor-in-chief of FHM Bionic, but the mag closes.

2003: Hilton - now known as "Iceberg" - returns to FHM as reporter editor. Helps edit New Woman for four issues and works on development for Zoo (later his chief rival). Leaves Emap and joins IPC to work on special projects, including Nuts.

2004: Nuts launches in January, the first men's weekly in the world, amid great scepticism. Wins the circulation war with Zoo. Hilton wins launch editor of the year for the second time in November.