The radio world is mourning the loss of a respected programmer and consultant Steve Smith, who passed away suddenly last Thursday (July 7). He is 62 years old.
Tim RichardsSmith’s partner in the Smith Richards Collective, who first met Smith in 1992 at the MTV Awards in Los Angeles during a Westwood One broadcast, wrote on his Facebook page, “Steve (it’s hard to tell). typist) is an incredible man. He is a radio innovator and one of the best and most creative programmers I have ever learned.”
Smith’s family confirmed his death in a statement to commercial radio Unlimitedwrites, “Steve passed away peacefully at home on July 7… Steve’s wildly successful career spanned 40 years and has broken countless records, won countless awards, and has changed the plight of American radio for the better.”
Smith, known for his long blonde hair as well as his savvy in programming, has over 34 years of major market experience at programming stations and managing programming staff, but is particularly noted for launching out hip-hop format with New York’s Hot 97 mid-90s.
“The first time I saw Steve Smith at 90 while walking on Broadway in NY, I knew right away who he was.” Jeremy Rice, program director for XL 106.7 / Magic 107.7 Orlando, recalls on his Facebook page. “Steve is already a famous PD with his signature hair featured all over the industry publications. Steve signed with Hot 97 in the 90s. It was the first hip hop radio station in the country. My first meeting with Steve was when we went out to hip hop in Orlando in 2004, I was really excited because he is a top level consultant who has worked with stars in NY. , LA and everywhere. Steve and I became great friends and worked together on Long Island, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa to name a few… Steve can summarize your radio station in 15 minutes. To Steve, it was never paralyzing analysis, it got right to the point!
Smith’s radio career began in 1987 when he worked as a program director at Hot 97.7 in San Jose, California after graduating from Pepperdine Law School. After three years as a programmer at Phoenix’s KKFR, he moved on to the corporate level, holding positions at AM/FM Radio Group, Emmis Communications, Clear Channel (now iHeart), CBS Radio and Cox Media Group.
Smith shocked the radio industry in November when he stepped down as Cox’s programming vp after 10 years at the media conglomerate, only to return this April as the founder of the Smith Richards Collective with with Richards and digital marketers Heidi McIvor-Allen. The consulting team handles programming for station groups of all formats, and provides talent training and brand development services. Previously, he ran his own consulting firm from 2007-2011 between corporate periods, winning three Billboards radio consultant of the year award.
In an interview in November with Unlimited‘S Joel DenverSmith recalled the origins of Hot 97 and the potential of the hip-hop form when he was still in Phoenix in 1993 before moving to New York, saying that despite the popularity of Public Enemy’s Fear of a black planet, “Nobody played anything on this album, there was no radio broadcast. We started playing hip-hop more in Phoenix.”
Joe Riccitellifounder of Golden Retriever Entertainment and former label advertising executive with RCA, Jive and other brands, recalls Smith from that pivotal period, telling Billboards“I met Steve in the early 90s and knew right away that he knew exactly what was going on. When he got to NYC, he really put the Hot 97s on the track to make them the brand they are today. As a programmer, he was ahead of the curve on so many levels. Without a doubt, he made me a better advertising guy in my early years [and] always challenge my teams. We have not only lost an entrepreneur to our entire industry, but also the soul of a human being. God bless you Steve, you have touched so many people in such a positive way. “
Former brand advertising executive Ken Lane, who currently works for Main Wave Entertainment and Right Lane Management, LLC, met Smith around the same time. “Steve is a true leader in his field at every level. I remember meeting him in the early 90s and instantly connecting that his best friend growing up in Great Neck, New York was my college roommate at Tulane,” he said. “Steve has an amazing ear for talent on both sides of the spectrum from rock to rap. For a guy who looks like Sammy Hagar, I’ve always had his passion for rap music. “
Indeed, Smith used his resemblance to Hagar to great effect, Rice recalls. “I did loads of jokes with Steve at restaurants and said to the manager, ‘Shh, Sammy Hagar’s coming – NO autograph!’ Once I was convinced by an airline pilot that Sammy Hagar was on the flight and he informed the entire plane! “
Smith is survived by a son, two siblings, and his fiancé.
Silvio Pietroluongo provided support on this story.
https://www.billboard.com/pro/steve-smith-radio-programmer-dead-obituary/ Steve Smith, Legendary Radio Programmer, Dies at 62 – Billboard