.Sleepy John Bids Farewell to the Sty

Host of Please Stand By will helm last KPIG show this Sunday

Longtime KPIG 107.5 DJ “Sleepy” John Sandidge will host the final installment of his Sunday morning show, “Please Stand By,” on Aug, 6. The 83-year-old local radio mainstay is signing off commercial radio after a storied broadcasting career that has made him a legend in the Americana scene.

“I had a nice 35 year run with KPIG and, uh, just the best life I could have possibly dreamed of,” Sandidge said.

Times are changing and as the old guard of live radio broadcasters like Sandidge go off air for good, a dying art form goes with them.

“There’s no school out there to say ‘Ok, I want to take a class on being a radio host and bringing in music and booking shows,’” Sandidge said.

Sandidge’s passion for the sound and culture of Americana and roots music helped create a thriving scene at KPIG that became a template for radio stations across the country.

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“I’m leaving KPIG and it will all collapse and there will be no more Americana music!” said Sandidge with a laugh.”You can quote me.”

Please Stand By began at the now-defunct radio station KFAT, when the late Laura Ellen Hopper tapped Sandidge to bring his show onto the KPIG. Prior to that, the show had broadcast about 200 episodes on KHIP, had a stint on KUSP and even broadcast from General Feed and Seed on Commercial Way. But it was at KPIG, right before the first show, that Hopper came up with the name and Please Stand By was born.

Arden Eaton, a local radio legend in her own right, worked with Sandidge for over 20 years at KPIG and remembers meeting him in the early 1980s when he was trying to get into radio.

“He was a fun-loving guy who wanted to be part of the music scene,” Eaton remembers. “He loved to banter, tease and harass.”

Sandidge’s affable demeanor and ear for finding the next big thing in the Americana scene has gotten him fans not only among the listening audience, but from the artists themselves. Robert Earl Keen, who Sandidge was an early supporter of, even name-dropped him in his track “I’m Coming Home.”

“They threw a party there from dusk ’till dawn/Seems like everybody knows old Sleepy John/He said next time I better bring you along/I’m comin’ home to you/They had fresh caught salmon on the barbeques/There were people jammin’ all night to the blues/Life is good out in Santa Cruz/But I’m comin’ home to you”

Over the years, PSB had many famous guests, including Michael Nesmith of The Monkees, Norton Buffalo and Garth Hudson. Sandidge says he even tried to get Bob Dylan on a few times, but it never panned out. Of all the guests he’s had on, his favorite was Tazmanian singer-songwriter Audrey Auld-Mezera. The least favorite? Jessica Jones, who brought in her CDs in lieu of a live set and had little to say.

In 2018, Sandidge was invited to guest host the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. The prestigious honor is bestowed on distinguished performers and entertainment personalities tied to the country music industry.

“I would like to be thought of as one of the people who made a contribution to this area by bringing in wonderful music and being able to present it to them both on the air and in person,” Sandidge said. “Our job in radio is to entertain you, and not just by playing records.”

Sandidge’s deep dives into the history and cultural significance of the records he spun connected with listeners. Being intentional with the record selection was something that he got drilled into him by Laura Ellen Hopper over the years of working together. When asked what Hopper would say to him when the On Air light goes off on Sunday, he knew exactly what it would be.

“She would say: ‘Why did you play that song after this one?’’

Please Stand By’s final show will have live performances by Keith Greeninger, Sherry Austin and Tammy Brown, among others at 9am Sunday on KPIG 107.5 FM.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulations, John on a long career and thank you for all the LIVE dj-ing and service and support to the industry.

    I played bass for Arthur Godfrey when he was around 20 years ago. I recall he said that he came to Santa Cruz because of KIPG Radio. Because it was one of the last (person programmed) stations that played Americana music.

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  2. Thanks for all of the good music and good times, Sleepy John. You have made KPIG and PSB and yourself legends and made Freedom and Santa Cruz household names. You will be greatly missed although I can’t believe you would go away completely!!!

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  3. Don’t forget Roy Zimmerman’s song “You’re Getting Sleepy” and the fun times on the Bushwackers Breakfast Club that I loved to listen while slaving at the P.O. Life will not be the same in Santa Cruz! Thanks for the years of laughter and tears,

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