Philip Montoro moved to Chicago on his 25th birthday in 1996, and the Reader had snatched him up by the end of that year. He started out as a substitute typesetter and worked his way through the ranks as a proofreader and associate editor, then became the paper’s full-time music editor in April 2004. As a drummer and a writer, Philip has developed equal passions for music and language, so the job fits him like a glove. He continues to use his position to center local artists and overlooked stories, despite a music-media landscape that often rewards clickbait and trend-chasing. “I’ve remained committed to music journalism for nearly 20 years for a simple reason,” he says. “The human species developed music long before it developed written language. If that doesn’t prove how important it is to binding together our communities, what will?” Born in Ohio and raised in north Texas, Philip graduated from Rice University in Houston in 1994 and then earned a Master’s of fine arts in creative writing at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Philip can be found biking the lakefront trail year-round, shopping at Asian markets along Argyle and Devon for new cooking ingredients, checking out live music at Chicago’s independent venues, or sampling the creations of the city’s finest breweries. Reflecting on his long tenure at the Reader, Philip acknowledges that the paper has shrunk in some ways but points out that it’s grown in others. “The publication and its staff are much smaller, but we’re making a focused effort to break from our historical reputation as a ‘white north-side paper’ and instead serve the whole city,” he says. “The Reader has always elevated the voices of fringe and underground figures—that’s probably the most important element of its legacy as an ‘alternative’ weekly—and today it’s also doing better by racially marginalized Chicagoans.”

Twitter: @pmontoro | Instagram: @philip.montoro

meet the Reader

Reader 50

By Philip Montoro

The Reader’s guide to World Music Festival Chicago 2023

With 11 free concerts in ten days, the festival gives us dozens of chances to participate firsthand in the way music builds kinship across borders.