Les Garland began his career as a radio and television personality and became an influential radio programmer in the 70s, exerting even more influence on the 80s as co-founder/originator of both MTV: Music Television and VH-1. As MTV Networks Senior Executive Vice President, Garland was the Executive Producer of the first six MTV Video Music Award shows and the Live Aid concert in 1985. Instrumental in the development of the “I Want My MTV” campaign, Garland also developed the weekly Basement Tapes show featuring unsigned artists competing for a recording contract. He launched MTV Spring Break, which remains a staple of the channel and created the first “Making Of” and “MTV World Premiere” music videos. Garland received multiple achievement awards during the MTV years, including Cable Ace Awards and Billboard Magazine’s Innovator of the Year.
Following their years together at MTV, Garland and Robert W. Pittman co-founded Quantum Media, launching a music company and television properties such as “The Morton Downey Jr. Show” and “Streets,” television’s first reality cop show. Garland was the executive producer of the home video release of the boxing match between Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard and produced a Pepsi Cola radio campaign in conjunction with BBDO in the 90s, enlisting acts such as Naughty by Nature, Luscious Jackson, Notorious B.I.G., PM Dawn, Digable Planets and The Rembrandts to record the Pepsi Generation jingle.
From 1990-97, Garland worked on the launch of the interactive music channel, The Box, acting as senior executive vice president. Responsible for entertainment programming, promotion, ad sales and marketing, Garland oversaw the rollout of the channel from a base of 200,000 homes to more than 30 million U.S. households and 25 million households internationally. From there he went on to found sputnik7.com with Chris Blackwell, serving as the company’s president. The site was awarded the Invision Award of Excellence in Entertainment, a Gold Invision for Best Entertainment Streaming Media Site, the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award and was a Webby Award winner.
During the prime years of contemporary music radio, Garland programmed KELI/Tulsa, WRKO/Boston, K-100/Los Angeles and CKLW/Detroit, the Motor City’s Big 8, which could be heard in 38 U.S. states. Discovered by pop radio producers Bill Drake and Paul Drew, Garland became a top radio programming executive. He was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s, “Music Industry Heavy 100” and helped merge radio's freeform FM sound with contemporary music formats, leading to consecutive Radio Station of the Year and Programmer of the Year awards at RKO Radio's KFRC San Francisco. While at KFRC Garland won a Clio Award for an eerie station promo. Dubbed, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” late voiceover artist Paul Frees declared that 610 on the dial could be used as a channel for communication with extraterrestrials. Garland also recorded the DJ voice-over in the Jefferson Starship number-one song, "We Built This City".
Garland was later picked by Doug Morris and Ahmet Ertegun to head up West Coast operations for Atlantic Records. During the 1980s, record-setting revenues were achieved through releases from Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, Abba, Aretha Franklin, Foreigner, The Spinners, Phil Collins and many other chart-topping recording artists.
Garland has appeared at college symposia and a number of various speaking presentations including an engagement at Brown University alongside Hunter S. Thompson and Walter Cronkite, 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 and Media Conference, Austin’s famed South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) and was a keynote speaker at the ESPN Sports Radio Convention. In June 2003, Garland spoke at the Electronic Arts worldwide marketing conference before 300 company executives from 48 states. Additionally, Garland is a founding member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Academy of Digital Music Arts and Sciences.
Profiles of Garland have appeared in publications including Vanity Fair, Time, GQ, People, USA Today, The New York Times, Newsweek and Forbes. Television exposure has included “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “CBS Morning News,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and even a humorous cameo with Eddie Murphy on the “Late Show with David Letterman.” Early in Garland’s radio career, he was selected as one of Rolling Stone’s ‘Heavy 100’. He has also been featured in Noah Kerner’s "Chasing Cool", Roger Enrico’s “Cola-Wars”, Barbara and Claude Hall’s “This Business Of Radio Programming”, Bob Shannon’s “Radio Tales”, Greg Prato's “MTV Ruled The World”, and Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum's definitive book published by Dutton, "I Want My MTV".
Garland launched and co-managed Bad Boy/Arista pop act Dream, taking the group to double-platinum sales success and securing various endorsement deals for companies including DKNY, AOL and Twix. He signed actor Sylvester Stallone to BBDO/HBO for Clio-award winning television creative and secured Carson Daly as celebrity endorser for the 30th birthday campaign of Mr. Coffee as a consultant to Hill and Knowlton.
Garland now undertakes projects in popular mass entertainment through his consulting company, AfterPlay Entertainment. AfterPlay represented the rights to represent the theatrical, television, and home video release of the film, ‘Tribute’, a rock-umentary executive produced by Steven Soderbergh. Other clients have included Cisneros Television, DreamWorks, MCA, AOL Latin America, Enigma Digital (acquired by Clear Channel), College Television Network (acquired by MTV Networks), the Dick Clark Company and RMS Networks, a provider of customized in-store television networks.
With the launch of The Tube Music Network, Garland explored new territory with the distribution concept of digital multicasting, partnering with Tribune, Raycom, and Sinclair Broadcasting Groups. Those broadcast partnerships landed The Tube in 20 million cable homes.
Through AfterPlay Entertainment, Garland has undertaken new business development for entertainment entrepreneur Michael Cohl and his venture, S2BN Entertainment. Abroad, he developed music-based initiatives with Bacardi International. In 2008 Garland booked and promoted the Eagles for the official opening of Missouri State University’s John Q. Hammons Arena. Garland executive produced and is the voice of the Tom Petty 2010 Tour radio and TV campaign.
Garland is an advisor to BigStar.tv, a subscription service presenting movies on-demand to a worldwide audience. Garland is also artist and music strategies advisor to the founders of Zumba, the fitness program that blends Latin and international rhythms.
Garland also enjoys golf. "He was into golf way before golf was cool,” said PGA Tour pro Tommy Armour III. Following his years at MTV, Garland briefly caddied on the PGA Pro circuit for Armour. Garland, carrying a 7.0 handicap, is former club champion at the La Gorce Country Club on Miami Beach. He was appointed by the city of Miami Beach to the commission overseeing the renovation of Miami Beach’s two public golf courses. He was also an owner-founder with Gianni Versace, Sylvester Stallone, and Chris Blackwell of Miami Beach nightspot BARNONE.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyJ78iyo48I Huey Lewis talks about KFRC on the Bonnie Hunt Show.