Last Tuesday, 12/21/10, with the passing of Les Goldberg, radio lost one of the most well-respected and well-loved veterans in the industry. Over his forty-plus year career in radio, Les has served as coach, mentor, calming voice, and most importantly, friend, for countless people across the business.
The following recount lists the facts of his career, but the highlights of his life can best be told in the words of his friends and colleagues. Since his passing, we have received numerous words of condolence, sadness and wonderful remembrance from his many friends across the country. We are pleased to share some of these with you from the people who knew him best, and also invite all of our readers to share their memories as well.
Les began his career in radio a WVOX Radio in New Rochelle, NY in 1964. Later that year he transitioned into the national radio advertising business by joining Peggy Stone and Associates where he remained until 1968. He was then courted to join a growing rep firm, McGavren Guild, as New York account executive. A few years later, as the rep firm grew, Les was called to Detroit to focus on marketing our medium to automotive advertisers.
After becoming manager of the Detroit office in 1973, he was eventually tapped to bring his extraordinary sales and management skills to grow McGavren Guild’s Los Angeles operation as Executive Vice President/ West Coast. Under Les’ direction, he turned the West Coast division into one of the most profitable for McGavren Guild. As a result of his successful track-record and strong client relationships, when McGavren Guild consolidated under the industry-changing, multi-rep Interep Radio Sales in 1986, Les was named President and Chief Operating Officer of the new entity.
Les was President/COO of Interep for over a decade, and remained a consultant and member of Interep’s Board of Directors until retiring in 2005. During his leadership, Interep grew to become the largest, and one of the most innovative, radio representation firms in the country, with over $1 billion in sales.
Throughout his career, Les served as a board member for virtually every major industry organization including the RAB, the NAB, the Bayliss Foundation, Southern California Broadcasters Foundation, the Creative Fund, and was past Chairman and one of the founding advocates for the Radio Mercury Awards. Perhaps most importantly to Les, he was proud father to two children, Andrew and Elizabeth, and doting grandfather to Maddie, Evan, Alexa and Benjamin.
As mentioned above, Les’ legacy goes far beyond his accomplishments on paper. As a true believer in and lover of both radio and people, he was always available to give his support and encouragement to all, from leaders of the industry to entry-level sellers looking to build a career in the business. His wisdom, support and loving spirit lives on in the hearts of all who know him. Here are few of those memories:
“As you know, Les’ career was truly remarkable, as he rose through the ranks over the years at the Interep companies to become one of the most honorable and principled leaders in our business. His focus on the needs of his stations, his creativity in seeking solutions, and his ability to find common ground amidst the most challenging of circumstances set him apart and earned him the respect of all who knew him. Most important, however, was the personal side of Les. He had a razor-sharp wit and an intellect to match. Despite the tough business edge he often had to display, he was a warm and caring man who loved his family and friends deeply. He was an exceptional judge of character, and to earn his respect was a genuine compliment. In a debate, he didn’t care so much whether or not he agreed with you; he measured how firmly you held to your position and how well you could articulate your case, a rare and valued quality. Above all, he was a true friend and a willing mentor to many of us, and we are all richer to have known him. He will be missed.” David Kennedy, former CEO of Interep and former CEO of Susquehanna Broadcasting
“Les was a mentor to many of us, and as Dave Kennedy stated, Les had an innate ability to focus with an intense passion–plus to always place others 1st, whether it was clients, employees, his family & friends. He was a tireless Leader with his work on our industry associations. He always found time to listen, work and to serve. I will miss him greatly. George Pine, former Interep President.
“I started working with Les at McGavren-Guild in 1969. Over the years, Les and I made some very creative presentations to add to our growing client base. Les was always straight-forward, honest and upfront with every prospective client. When asked if we could obtain certain goals, which we knew were unrealistic, he’d would always state in his calm confident way, that this was not possible… and then add, nor did he believe could our competitor.”
One special note…Les’ birthday is January 28th and mine is February 1st. Every year we would celebrate our birthdays together at the RAB Managing Sales Conference in Dallas. We always toasted the fact that we were away from home!
Les was a friend for a many years and I will miss him, dearly. Tony Durpetti, former President, D&R Radio
“Les had two great passions in his life. Radio and his family. He played a major role in building McGavren Guild and eventually Interep to the prominence that they achieved. He loved his children and became a devoted grandparent. His intelligence and straight-forward manner will be greatly missed.” Jeff Dashev, foremer President, Interep West
“Les had the curiously quiet but tremendously effective ability to motivate people to a desired outcome and bring disparate parties together. His skills were particularly relevant during the chaotic environment brought about by the consolidation of the rep business. It was a pleasure working with him.” Peter Doyle, former President, McGavren Guild Radio
“I have known Les for well over thirty years and am proud to have been one of his friends. Beneath his calm exterior was a very intense, private guy. He so deeply cared about his client radio stations and advertisers and so deeply cared about his co-workers. He taught me so much about the rep business, and loved to have in-depth discussions about the business. Although we didn’t always agree, he was always fair, incredibly supportive and was always there for me. I will forever remember his mischievous laugh and the way he would look right at you when he was in a conversation. How many times did I try to count how many times his eye lids fluttered when he spoke? Les was always good about checking in on me–I will miss hearing his soft voice saying, “Hello Ricky.” Erica Farber, former publisher of Radio & Records and Interep veteran
“Les was a great mentor and even better friend. He was a trusted advisor and taught me a great deal about leading a company. Outside of business, he continued to look out for me. After Interep shut down, I was out of work for a good period of time. Les checked in with me regularly to make sure my family and I were OK and to offer advice and encouragement. I feel privileged to have known him and will miss him tremendously.” Mike Walsh, former President, Interep
Leslie Daniel Goldberg of North Salem, NY passed away on December 22, 2010 after a sudden illness. He was 67 years old. Les is survived by his daughter Elizabeth DeRose and her husband Christopher of Ann Arbor, MI; his son Andrew Goldberg and his wife Kim of New York, NY; his grandchildren, Madeline and Evan DeRose and Alexa and Benjamin Goldberg; and his sister Gloria Shaffer and her husband Richard of New York, NY.
Les was born in New York, NY on January 28, 1943 as the youngest child of Mauri and Edythe Goldberg. He graduated from New York University in 1964, and was a proud member of Phi Sigma Delta fraternity where he made many life-long friends.
While those in the radio advertising industry will recall Les as a passionate, dedicated and principled leader, he will be best remembered as a wonderful friend and mentor, and in particular a devoted father, grandfather, brother and uncle. His passion for Native American art led him to become a strong supporter of Native American museums and foundations. His friendly and upbeat personality and wonderful sense of humor will be greatly missed.
A memorial service is being planned for late January. Donations in Les’ honor can be made to either The Hopi Foundation or The Broadcasters Foundation of America.
George Pine and Les Goldberg
Editor’s note: I have known Les since 1976 when he was in charge of the McGavren Guild’s Los Angeles office. He was a wonderful man with a great love of life. He also was a pure radio broadcaster and was always willing to be at the front of the line to help the business or any friend. We shall miss Les.