At times in this blog, we have lamented the departures from day to day programming of some of the great PDs of the past few decades. That is especially the case with Richard Sands, former program director of Live 105/San Francisco.
When Jacobs Media was developing The Edge (yes, it’s still trademarked) in the late’80s/early ‘90s, we found the “alternative community” a tough one to crack.
Unlike many formats where there was a general consensus about what worked and what didn’t, Alternative (or Modern Rock, as it was often called in those days) was populated by many strong-minded, independent PDs who weren’t in the mood to be consulted or advised.
When I first met Richard, I wasn’t sure whether we’d be able to get on the same page. He was very headstrong, opinionated, and pretty confident. I had some of those same issues.
But as we got to know each other, a mutual respect developed, and I came away thinking that he was truly one of the smartest, most insightful programmers I’d ever worked with – in any format. When he took a “sabbatical” from Live 105 to tour baseball stadiums with his dad one summer, I was truly jealous that I was never able to do the same thing with my father.
Today, “The Sands Report” stands alone as the voice of the Alternative format – which if you haven’t checked your PPM numbers lately, has made a strong comeback, even in those all-important 25-54 adult demos.
Richard always shines the light on other PDs, but every once in a while reminds us why he could program a lemonade stand and make it successful. In the newest edition of “The Sands Report,” he provides some of the best free consulting programmers will ever get: “Everything I’ve Learned In Radio From A to Z.”
I won’t go through all of Richard’s 26 gems, but I did pull out a handful that resonated for me:
G: Get two steps ahead of the competition: Read everything you can. And save articles that mean something to you. They’ll come in handy some day.
H: Have a vision: It’s so much easier to get there, if you know where you’re going. What do you want your station to sound like?
L: Local! This is the most important concept for radio’s long-term survival in this digital world. EVERY mic break should have a local element. Street name. Highway. Town name. Local hotspot. EVERY break.
O: Oh, is there some hotel trade? Ask if you can use it to monitor the stations that you program. At least once every few months, you need to get away and really listen.
V: Vibe is what your stations needs: What’s it like in that radio park where you work? You can feel a special vibe emanating from every corner of a winning station.
And my favorite…
Y: You don’t know everything: Even though you probably think you do. Network. Chat with a consultant. You’ll be surprised what you learn.
If you’d like to read them all (and I highly recommend that you do), email Richard (firstname.lastname@example.org) and sign up for “The Sands Report.” Or access it here. Even if you’re not a part of the Alternative format, you can learn a great deal from his weekly look at programmers who are still on the cutting edge.
And a publisher who may be the smartest guy in the room.