Nicole Sandler has a very impressive resume, as you’ll see. You would think at least one radio station would want to tap into her vast experience. When she posted on Facebook, Wednesday, that she believed she wasn’t getting her calls returned because of her age, we took notice. Not only because of what Nicole posted, but that so many other people were agreeing. So, we reached out to Nicole to get her thoughts on trying to find a job in radio at the age of 59.
Radio Ink: How long were you in radio and tell us a few of the places you worked?
Nicole: I’ve been in radio for 40 years this month. I started while in college at WUSF, at the University of South Florida. Most of my career has been spent in NYC (WMCA, WPLJ) and Los Angeles (KLSX, KNX-FM, KODJ, KLOS, KSCA, Channel 103.1).
Radio Ink: Since you left radio you’ve been podcasting. How is that going?
I never left radio. I still consider what I do radio. I host a live talk show four days a week at nicolesandler.com, which is then posted as a podcast.
I moved my show online on January 21, 2010 – the day that Air America went off the air. At the time, I was hosting the 11 p.m.-1 a.m. ET program. I had already been simulcasting the program on a service called Ustream, later migrating to YouTube and adding a couple of audio streams. A little over two years ago, I joined the lineup at the Progressive Voices Network (progressivevoices.com).
When I decided to go online, I also decided not to put my show behind a paywall, knowing that people are still struggling. Instead, I pledged to follow the public radio model and make donations voluntary. Before Air America, I hosted mornings on then-progressive talk WINZ/Miami, until they decided that South Florida needed a fourth sports talk station instead of one progressive talker.
After graduating from USF with a degree in broadcast programming and production, I moved to New York City to become Bob Grant’s producer at WMCA. From there, I moved to WPLJ to produce Jim Kerr & the Morning Crew, while spending weekends on the air at rocker WRCN.
A relationship brought me out to Los Angeles, where I produced Phil Hendrie’s KLSX morning show before moving over to KLOS’ Mark & Brian Show. I left KLOS to help launch a new Triple A station in Los Angeles, KSCA, where I hosted middays, then mornings, and became Music Director. After the station was sold during the original consolidation frenzy, I moved to (the now-defunct) The Album Network as Rock Music Director, then headed down to San Diego to co-host the Brand X Morning Show on 91X.
When Clear Channel decided to launch a new Triple A station in Los Angeles, they brought me in as MD/afternoons, eventually upping me to PD… until another round of consolidation required that station be sold. I was able to convince management to allow us to make history and become the first station to move seamlessly from over the air to Internet only. (The move is detailed in this piece I wrote for the Triple A trade magazine Totally Adult – HERE)
As you can see, I’ve long been an innovator.
WorldClassRock.com was killed during the dot-com bust, and I wound up moving to Taos, New Mexico, to program KTAO. Realizing that was a mistake, I moved back to South Florida and began voice tracking for Sirius radio (before they joined forces with XM). Then an offer to program WXRV just outside of Boston brought me to New England.
Radio Ink: Why did you decide to try to get back into radio?
Nicole: Again, I never considered myself “out” of radio. I’m always reading the trades, looking for opportunities. At this stage in my life and career, I’m not looking to chase jobs to places that I’d never considered living. Having grown up in South Florida, I moved back here when my kid was starting school. I thought that with my track record and decades of experience, getting a job wouldn’t be too difficult.
Radio Ink: You posted on Facebook you didn’t get a single call. Why do you think that is?
Nicole: I didn’t exactly say that. What I said was that I had applied for a couple of positions in the past year but wasn’t even accorded the courtesy of a return call or email. I think it’s a sign of the times. Program Directors have more and more on their plates, and probably prioritize a job inquiry by an out-of-work radio pro very low. I think it’s a lack of common decency. By the way, when I persisted with the PD in question, he did respond… basically telling me (on both occasions) that they already had someone in mind for the position.
Radio Ink: Many of the comments you received agreed with your reasoning as to why you haven’t been hired. Were you surprised by that?
Nicole: No, because what I’m experiencing is commonplace. With consolidation, there are fewer jobs out there. Experience is not valued because, at most of the bigger companies, there’s little autonomy. Stations are, for the most part, programmed by corporate fiat, with the local PDs just carrying out the game plan. What I found really sad in that Facebook thread were comments by people who enjoyed much greater success than I had who, also, cannot get a response to their inquiries or applications.
Radio Ink: Do you plan to keep trying to get back into radio?
Nicole: Again, I don’t consider myself “out of radio.” I know I have so much in the way of talent and experience to offer. Although there are a few places I’d consider moving to, I’m not looking to chase jobs around the country. There are quite a few stations in South Florida who could use my expertise. I’d be thrilled for the opportunity to get back into the day-to-day operations of a radio station, as opposed to working alone in my home studio.
Radio Ink: What advice do you have for younger broadcasters?
Nicole: Run away. Now. Seriously, learn another trade. There’s nothing out there for a 59-year-old radio professional. Truly, nothing.