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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Legendary Programmer Steve Smith Dies Unexpectedly At 62. – Inside Radio

Steve Smith, the veteran programming exec who worked with  some of the biggest brands and air talent in radio over a 40-year career, died Thursday according to a statement from his family issued Saturday. He was 62. Smith’s career encompassed VP of Programming positions at Cox Media Group, Clear Channel, AMFM, Emmis and others, and included a 27-year stretch with Cox Media Group.
“Steve unexpectedly passed away peacefully at home, in his sleep, on July 7th, 2022,” the statement from his family said. “Steve’s highly successful career spanned 40 years and has broken countless records, won countless awards, and has irrevocably changed the landscape of American radio for the better. Details regarding the celebration of his life will be forthcoming.”
The cause of death hasn’t been revealed.
In April, Smith and longtime programmer Tim Richards teamed to launch radio consulting group the Smith Richards Collective. The executives also united with digital marketing strategist Heidi McIvor-Allen of McIvor Marketing on the new venture, with the goal of helping stations grow their audience and revenues.
Smith left Cox in November 2021 after 10 years as VP of Programming for its radio division and after consulting its stations for 17 years before that, starting in 1994.
At the time he half-kiddingly told Inside Radio he worked as a VP of Programming for just about every radio group.
At Emmis, he jetted back and forth between New York and Los Angeles, overseeing programing for “Hot 97” WQHT and “Power 106” KPWR. While at Clear Channel in L.A., he was instrumental in moving Ryan Seacrest from KYSR to mornings at KIIS-FM and revamping the legendary CHR. As VP of Programming at Cox,  Smith oversaw CMG format leaders and worked directly on radio programming with stations and brand managers.
Richards says he first encountered Smith in 1992 at the MTV Awards in L.A. at a Westwood One broadcast where each was producing a live morning show broadcast. “Even back then I remember thinking, ‘Who’s that guy?’ He had a rock-star presence,” Richards wrote in a Facebook post Saturday, reflecting on Smith’s career, their friendship and work together. “As often happens, our paths would cross a lot through the years until 2003 when he was part of the team that hired me in Tucson @ Clear Channel.”
Since announcing their consultancy in April, Richards said he and Smith had already begun collaborating with some great clients. “The future was bright, then…today, that call.
“Steve was (that’s so hard to type) an incredible man. He was a radio innovator and one of the kindest and most creative programmers I’ve ever learned from,” Richards’ post continues. “Most of all, he was a great person. I’m so blessed to have known him and the world will definitely be a different place without his presence. Please keep his family and friends in your prayers as we process this unthinkable news.”


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