Les Sand, 65, a longtime radio and television personality in Washington who was known on the airwaves as "The Sandman" and "The Night Voice of Washington," died of cancer Thursday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. His real name was Lester Zins, and he lived in Silver Spring.
The Brooklyn-born former professional baseball pitcher worked with several local radio stations here in the 1940s and 1950s, including WINX, where he starred on "The Sandman Show," and WWDC, where he ran the "One to Six Show" (from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.) and the "Yawn Patrol."
He also worked in television, where his personality earned him a reputation as a wit. He performed on the "Game Room" and "Movie Quick Quiz" for WTTG-TV and for WMAL-TV in "Screen and Heard." His other TV credits included work for the old DuMont Television Netword's flagship station WARD, a children's panel show called "Kiddie Kollege," and several months on a television station in Philadelphia. He also worked for National Public Radio in New York City.
In recent years, Mr. Zins was part-owner and general manager of radio station WRGM in Richmond. In the early 1960s, he brought the "Big Band Sound" to Washington radio station WEAM.
Locally, he also worked as a sportscaster and was the play-by-play announcer for American University basketball games and the announcer for the Alexandria Dukes baseball games. He had worked as a narrator and announcer at several presidential inaugurations.
Mr. Zins attended Syracuse University, where he was a left-handed pitcher on its baseball team.Before beginning his broadcasting career, he was a professional baseball player with the Canadian-American League, the Eastern League, the Southern Association and the International League. He also pitched for the House of David baseball team, where he achieved his best record of 28 wins and 5 losses.
Mr. Zins, a longtime member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), used his radio and TV time to work for a number of causes such as the U.S. Savings Bond drives, the American Red Cross, for which he broadcast rush appeals for blood donors, and the American Heart Association. In the late 1940s, he raised $2,600 and more than 1,000 pounds of clothing for children of a local family whose mother had been killed.
Survivors include his wife, Jo Ann, and his mother, Dora Zins, both of Silver Spring, a brother, Sid Zins of Bethesda, and two Stepchildren, Richard Gillani and Charlene Berry.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Heart Association in memory of his son, Herbert Zins.