Les Garland is an American media executive.
Throughout his celebrated career in entertainment, Les Garland’s path has been blazed by his love of music. As co-founder of groundbreaking networks including MTV: Music Television, VH1, RKO Radio Network, and The Box Television Network, Garland is also recognized as the voice of a DJ on a worldwide number one record; that’s just the beginning. Garland’s decades of accomplishments are as expansive as they are diverse. He has worn many hats including Radio Personality; Radio Program Director; Record Company President; Event Producer; Music Talent Manager; Executive Producer; Brand Marketer; Public Speaker and Entertainment Industry Consultant. An award-winning talent who has been featured in magazines, newspapers, on radio and television, Garland has resided at the height of pop culture for his entire career.
Prior to his years as a cable television pioneer, Garland cut his chops as Program Director of historic radio stations in major markets including K-100 Los Angeles, CKLW Detroit, WRKO Boston, and KFRC San Francisco during contemporary music’s broadcast prime. Discovered by pop radio legends Bill Drake and Paul Drew, Garland’s storied radio career led to a spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “Music Industry Heavy 100.”
The audience has always come first in Garland’s mind. At KFRC, he achieved his greatest accomplishments in radio, taking the station to new heights as the top rated station in San Francisco. Legendary KFRC was named Radio Station of the Year no less than four times while Garland was being voted Program Director of the Year by his peers. Channeling Orson Welles, Garland inadvertently created a KFRC promotional spot that has since become a part of radio history. It also netted Garland a Clio. The award winning promo, titled “Close Encounters”, stunned listeners by announcing that the station would go silent in order to communicate with extraterrestrials.
Directly on the heels of his distinguished stint in radio, Garland was hand-picked by iconic label chiefs Ahmet Ertegun and Doug Morris to leap from radio to records, managing West Coast operations for the most venerable brand in music, Atlantic Records. Atlantic was home to some of the most popular artists in history, including Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, Abba, Aretha Franklin, Foreigner, The Spinners, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and AC/DC, and Garland was suddenly working closely with several of the musicians he’d fallen in love with as a DJ.
One of Garland’s most recognizable achievements was his wholesale influence on 80’s culture as co-founder of MTV: Music Television and VH1. MTV, the world’s first 24-hour music channel, is home of the anthemic I Want My MTV marketing hook which Garland played a key role in developing. Along with co-founder, Robert Pittman, serving as MTV Networks Senior Executive Vice President, Garland was executive producer of the first six MTV Video Music Awards and oversaw all elements of MTV’s innovative programming. He was on the lead team that globalized the MTV brand with distribution into Europe, Asia and Australia. During his time at MTV his humorous and witty nature shined through when he was asked to be the DJ voice embedded in the classic hit We Built This City On Rock & Roll by Jefferson Starship. This impromptu stunt immortalized his voice as the things DJ dreams are made of.
Following their MTV years Garland and Pittman co-founded Quantum Media, launching popular television shows such as “The Morton Downey Jr. Show”, “Streets” (TV’s first reality cop show), and home videos such as the legendary Marvin Hagler / Sugar Ray Leonard title fight. Garland also produced Pepsi’s multi-format radio jingle campaign, enlisting a superstar line-up including Naughty by Nature, Luscious Jackson, Notorious B.I.G., PM Dawn, Digable Planets and The Rembrandts. After Quantum Media, he returned to music and television orchestrating the national roll-out of The Box Television Network, the world’s first interactive music channel. As Senior Executive Vice President, Garland played an essential role in the channel’s domestic and global rollout, handling programming, promotion, sales and marketing, while simultaneously growing the channel to more than 50 million viewers worldwide. After The Box, Garland moved on to found digital music platform sputnik7.com with music icon Chris Blackwell. While Garland served as the company’s President, the channel won multiple awards, including Webby’s for digital innovation. Garland also participated in the launch and roll-out of The College Television Network (CTN) that was ultimately acquired by MTV Networks and later converted to mtvU.
Today, Les Garland continues to lead mass media entertainment at the helm of his company AfterPlay Entertainment, a boutique, multi-disciplinary consulting practice that, in part, matches world famous talent with world-class brands. Internationally, AfterPlay has contributed to the development of music initiatives for Bacardi International while domestically, Garland secured The Eagles to play for a sell-out crowd at the official opening of the John Q. Hammons Arena at Missouri State University. He orchestrated a unique relationship between superstar artist Pitbull and Zumba Fitness (Zumba shares full body workouts with more than 10-million people each week in more than 100 countries). Garland executive produced—and was the voice of—a recent Tom Petty Tour radio, television, and media commercials. Garland also serves as an advisor to BIGSTAR Movies, a subscription SVOD platform committed to presenting unique movies, all of which are available on-demand (through iOs and Android) to a global audience.
But despite his success in other arenas, music remains Garland’s passion and he has immersed himself into two major music categories: EDM and Country. A couple notable projects include his work on the Virgin-launched EDM cross-platform, culture series Travelectric, hosted by Shiva, the creator and face of the show that will feature the world’s top DJs; and with business legend Charles Koppelman, he is contributing his expertise and advice to Country singer Clay Walker’s projects. In the broadcast realm, he continues his work with Koppelman while teaming up with famed Michael Cohl developing two new properties. This fall, Garland will be participating in the launch of a new television programming service developed in co-developed with former Senior Vice President, Executive Producer of FOX News Corporation, Scott Ehrlich and award-winning music video producer, and former President of Lionsgate Digital, Curt Marvis.
Having held several executive management positions in the music industry, radio, music television and new media, Garland is frequently sought out for speaking engagements. He has appeared at college symposia including engagements at Brown University alongside Hunter S. Thompson and Walter Cronkite, and has been a featured speaker at the Billboard International Music Confab, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Australian Radio Broadcasters, the New Music Seminar, the International Music & Media Conference, and Austin’s famed South-by-Southwest Conference. He also keynoted the ESPN Sports Radio Convention and was guest lecturer at the Electronic Arts worldwide marketing conference. In 2012, Garland received the first of three invitations to appear in a unique internet lecture on the subject of "Sex, Race, and Rock in the USA" in a class taught by Professor Rebecca Sheehan at Australia’s prestigious University of Sydney. In her words, Professor Sheehan stated, “The student feedback repeatedly listed your lecture as their favorite of the course and it would be great to have you back for a third appearance in 2014”.
Despite all his accomplishments, he still finds time for a passion that nearly equals his love of music: the game of golf. Garland carries a 7.0 handicap, scoring four amateur career hole-in-ones and served as former champion at La Gorce Country Club on Miami Beach. Additionally, Garland briefly caddied on the PGA Pro circuit for PGA Pro Tommy Armour III. An active member of the community, he helped oversee the renovation of Miami Beach’s two public golf courses, the Miami Beach Golf Club and Normandy Shores, appointed by the City of Miami Beach, where he currently resides.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyJ78iyo48I Huey Lewis talks about KFRC on the Bonnie Hunt Show.