(Opening by Radio Ink’s Deborah Parenti)
When the first MIW list was released, in 1999, there weren’t too many mentors for women in the industry. Since that time, companies have increasingly stepped up to the plate, cultures have changed, and a new generation of confident women has emerged. And thanks to an early handful of women who became role models, other bright, aspiring women have been encouraged to bring their talent to radio, increasing the influence of women in all aspects of the industry. That some of these influencers also appear on our 40 Most Powerful People in Radio list, and that many hold important positions at radio companies and trade associations across the country, are testaments to these efforts. Mentoring makes a difference.
That’s why Radio Ink is also proud that this list, which started with 10 women and now includes 100, was the catalyst for the creation of the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group, an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to offer time, wisdom, and guidance to women seeking careers in broadcasting. This issue includes 100 examples of what mentoring and inspiring can achieve, and we encourage you to become part of it!
When the media needs to know something about the largest radio company in America, Angel Aristone is the person they’ll be working with. And she’s one of the very best at what she does. Aristone credits her success to hard work, many sacrifices in her personal life, and encouragement and support from family, close friends, and mentors. She says, “It’s really about believing in myself, that I can do anything I put my mind to.”
To succeed in 2015, Aristone recommends embracing change and always looking for ways to do things better, to keep that competitive edge. On overcoming big challenges, she says, “I try not to get overwhelmed. I take a deep breath and will actually walk away from whatever that challenge is for a little while before I dive back in and really wrap my arms around it. I’m extremely competitive, so I thrive on a good challenge.”
2Susan Davenport Austin
Sheridan Gospel Network
Midwest Regional VP
Donna Baker has been steadily rising through the ranks at Cumulus, most recently moving up from Chicago market manager to Midwest regional vice president, overseeing Cumulus’ station operations in Kansas City, Minneapolis, and Des Moines. To succeed in 2015, Baker believes it’s important to recruit talent in all aspects of the business: “It’s a daily responsibility of leaders to coach, lead, and clarify expectations for the teams currently on the field, and to create a culture of recruitment of future superstars in our leadership ranks.”
Baker says she owes her success to her ability to adapt to the ever-evolving needs of clients and listeners, and to leading from the front. “That’s allowed me to build talented teams,” she says, “and that’s what success is all about in any field. And I truly love this business.”
4Angelica “Angie” Balderas
Balderas says her success is a result of stubbornness and refusal to give up. As she says, “If I am not successful, I regroup, refocus, and keep moving.” She also advises flexibility: “You have to adapt to the changing business climate and ever-changing trends in media spending.”
New York Market Radio Association
To succeed in radio, Beagan believes people have to think beyond their job descriptions and contribute to the overall advancement of the industry. “More than ever,” she says, “I have been witnessing radio stations collaborating to present a more united front. A perfect example is how so many stations are using the applications of NextRadio and the benefits of iHeartRadio. It’s about being everywhere the consumers are, and having a global view of the media marketplace.
“I think Steve Harvey said this perfectly in his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. ‘You’re an investigator — nobody can find stuff out like a woman. Y’all put the police to shame; make the little investigative tricks they show on CSI and Law & Order: SVU look like counting lessons on Sesame Street.‘
Beasley Media Group Inc.
Caroline Beasley says her success in radio starts with the deep passion for the industry instilled in her by her father, George Beasley. “My success reflects an ability to stay focused, a desire to bring the highest levels of business integrity to my work, and the daily efforts I make in setting a good example for my colleagues and peers,” she says. “In addition, I am a continuous goal-setter, which keeps me focused on achieving goals and targeting new goals.
“Another area that I believe has been a contributor to my success has been my participation in various industry-wide activities, including membership in key industry trade associations such as the NAB. As an NAB member, I get firsthand insights from other broadcasters on current trends, ideas for new and more efficient ways of doing things, and a much better understanding of key regulatory and legislative issues. This allows me to more capably take on new and more challenging responsibilities.”
If you want to succeed in radio in 2015, Beasley advises, “Most important, success in radio requires an ability to adapt in an ever-changing environment. The media landscape is constantly evolving, and technological advancements provide our listeners and advertisers with more choices than ever before. To be successful, employees and companies need to anticipate change and be agents of change, developing innovative new formats, maintaining local dominance, launching new brands, and offering multi-platform access to our content.”
KFI & KTLK/Los Angeles
Robin Bertolucci has been programming KFI in Los Angeles for 13 years now and is highly respected throughout the radio industry. “I have been blessed to work with insanely smart and talented people who have helped me learn and grow at every turn,” she says. “I have stayed curious. I am never too relaxed or comfortable where I am because I know if I’m not moving forward, I’m actually going backwards, because the world is moving fast.”
Want to make it as a PD in a major market in 2015 and beyond? Bertolucci notes, “Whether it’s a new app or a different way to connect with your audience, this fast-changing world keeps us on our toes and constantly learning and changing. While all this is going on, the essence of our jobs is really still the same: Find and connect with an audience in a profound way. Make them love you and not want to be without you.”
Broadcast Education Association
As executive director at BEA, Birks leads the charge to educate the next generation, to teach them to love broadcasting. And she brings enthusiasm and a strong positive work ethic through the door every day. “Having jobs I really enjoy has obviously helped feed my work ethic,” she says, “but I have never been afraid to push myself to get something accomplished. I feel happiest when my hard work pays off, and take great pride in doing something well.
“One of my biggest challenges was learning to keep my head clear enough to quickly develop, and execute, backup plans. After multiple failed but carefully orchestrated ‘Plan A’s,’ I have learned to maintain my composure and formulate workable backup plans. Take note: Sometimes you need to resort to a Plan C or a Plan D, since the first attempt doesn’t always work quite the way you expected it — but the key is to stay calm.”
Principal (pictured right with Kay Olin)
VKB Media Consulting
The key to Valerie Blackburn’s success is that whenever there was an opportunity to add something to her plate, she asked for the opportunity — or just took it! “Just showing up isn’t nearly enough,” she says. “You have to make some noise.”
Bohan says her success is a result of being able to work in an industry she loves and that constantly challenges her. “I discovered a passion for the Hispanic market early in my career, and I have worked at great companies that allowed me to grow beyond traditional research roles,” she says. “I sought out strong mentors along the way and keep learning every day, from them and everyone who works on my team.”
Bohan’s advice to young broadcasters: “You need the ability to translate the powerful story radio has to tell to our consumers at both the listener and client level. You have to be able to embrace change as our industry and technology evolve while still maintaining the central connection to your audience.”
11Emily R. Boldon
VP/Stratus Music Programming
Corporate Program Director
Emily Boldon has direct management and programming oversight of 31 AC and Hot AC stations across the country, and she’s also responsible for directly overseeing Stratus, Cumulus’ proprietary music-scheduling software, for the entire company. Cumulus SVP/Content & Programming Mike McVay says, “Emily is a mentor of young women and men in our business. Her passion for performance is unparalleled among our corporate program directors, in that no one cares more about growing audience than does Emily.”
Boldon credits her success to her passion and tenacity. “I will always voice my opinion, regardless of whether it is popular,” she says. “My superiors have learned to expect that from me. I approach every day, every station, every project, every problem with focus and an abundance of energy.
“I recently overheard my boss, Mike McVay, pay me a great compliment when speaking with one of our local PDs: ‘Emily does not suffer fools. Work at her level and up to her expectation, or get out of the way.’ It is true that I expect a great deal from the local program directors on my team. I don’t apologize for that and would argue that it’s because of these high expectations that Cumulus has many of the best PDs in the business and some hugely successful brands across the nation.”
VP/GM Wichita Operations
E.W. Scripps Co.
After the Journal Broadcast-E.W. Scripps merger, Beverlee Brannigan went from being a big shot with Journal to being a big shot with Scripps, keeping her dual role as VP/GM for the company’s Wichita stations and VP of programming for the group. Brannigan says her success has come from her curiosity. “I like to know how and why,” she says, “so I ask a lot of questions. I tap into the smarts of people around me.”
To stay successful, she says, “Without question, you’ve got to be flexible and willing to change. If you find joy in the journey, your odds of success in radio, or life in general, are much higher.”
EVP Western Region
Linda Byrd has provided real leadership consistency for iHeartMedia: She’s only moved once, managing the cluster in Jacksonville for 15 years before transferring to Orlando, where she’s served as manager for the last 16 years. Byrd says she owes her success to being relentless and resilient. She can be tough to work for, but is very loyal, with an amazing ability to retain top-quality people. As she points out, “My five direct reports/senior leaders have worked for me for 90 years collectively, and I’m not that old.”
To succeed in 2015 and beyond, Byrd says it’s important to put a lot of effort into hiring talented people. She adds, “You must be very connected in your community, at all different levels, with many different industries. You must have great vision and be willing to take risks, try different things. You must create a culture of ‘take no prisoners.’ And most importantly, you must have balance in your work and life, and you must understand, encourage, and embrace that with your team.”
The Weiss Agency
Heather Cohen handles some of the radio industry’s top talent and gets a ton of respect from industry executives, and she says being passionate about her clients makes her job so much easier: “I love what I do and have great respect for the people I work with and represent. I have spent years cultivating strong relationships on both the talent and management sides. Integrity is a vital aspect of our operation.”
Cohen advises that, to make it in radio in 2015 and beyond, it’s essential to embrace new technology, methodologies, and change. “After careful research and analysis, one must be prepared to take a risk in this ever-changing environment,” she says. “We need to be open to learning new things and spend time listening to and implementing new ideas.”
Host, GLR Minuto60
GLR Networks/Prisa Internacional
“The formula to succeed is simple,” Cochran says. “Hard work, knowing what you want, understanding your audience, having passion for what you do, believing in yourself and your power, as a human being and as a journalist. I began my career in television and radio in Honduras when I was 17 years old. I had just graduated from high school. From the first time I sat in front of a microphone, I knew there was magic between that cold device and me. Listening to myself in recordings at the beginning of my career in the communication business was not pleasant, but as the time passed, I realized my value was in what I said and how I said it, more than if my voice was pretty or not. Thirty-six years later, I understand the power of a microphone, and when I sit in front of one, I make sure to make a positive impact with whatever message I deliver.”
Cochran points to the multi-billion-dollar buying power of Latinos in the U.S., saying everyone wants a piece of the cake. “The radio industry cannot ignore the power of Latinos, and that’s why more communities in the U.S.A. are opening their own programming directed to Latinos’ specific needs.”
National Association of Broadcasters
The Rita Cosby Show
WABC Radio/Cumulus Media
Cosby says she’s gotten where she is today because she works hard and doesn’t take herself too seriously. “I have always loved broadcasting and don’t consider it a job, but a passion,” she says. “When you truly enjoy what you do, you don’t mind working long hours, you mind having to get some sleep! I also have always recognized that although I am the host, I am just a facet of a brilliant and talented team, and it takes many layers to make a great radio show. Everyone is equally important.”
If you want to succeed in radio these days, Cosby says you’ll need to be adaptable, with radio now having so many avenues for delivering content. She notes, “A dynamic host must also be social media-savvy and aspire to come up with new and fresh angles to stories and headlines. My motto for life is: Don’t be afraid to try something new and strive for excellence. Don’t accept mediocrity or being in a set routine. Life is too short. Set your goals high, and be fearless.”
CBS Radio Sales
Entercom Radio Sales
Katz Radio Group
“My success in part is due to the willingness to work hard, to look for opportunities to learn and expand my knowledge, and the drive to win,” says Jana Cosgrove. “I have also been incredibly fortunate to work for and with some of the most talented people in the industry, who have challenged me, taught me, and pushed me to do the best job possible.”
Cosgrove’s advice to others looking to succeed in radio in 2015 and beyond: “I think a real understanding of how people are consuming media and how people are using radio/audio is critical for success, now and in the future. Being a problem-solver for advertisers is also critical — understanding that you have to engage consumers in multiple ways to have a real impact on their decisionmaking process.”
Host, Executive Producer
The Crook & Chase Countdown
Success can be a double-edged sword, according to Lorianne Crook. “If you begin to feel entitled because of what you have accomplished, your success can quickly turn into stagnation as you rest on your laurels,” she says. “However, if you feel compelled to keep learning, growing, and contributing, then success is simply what continues to inspire you. In other words, success is best lived as a journey, not a goal.
“That mindset is so valuable in today’s radio climate because the terrain changes quickly, and you have to be ready and willing to adjust. Yes, it is important to be true to yourself, but the most successful people with the longest careers also temper their egos. They are team players with excellent attitudes about helping everyone around them do their best work.”
How to succeed in 2015 and beyond? Crook says that’s the billion-dollar question: “Rapid changes in technology, social media, and listener engagement are making radio a whole new ball game nearly every day. But perhaps that is our clue. Our listeners can feel lost and overwhelmed by mass media. I believe our job in radio is to bring back the local, intimate feel that helps everyone feel as though they belong, and that their thoughts, feelings, and lifestyle are understood.”
Co-Founder and Co-CEO
“I have always challenged myself and others to achieve the best,” says Csukas. “I’m always asking, Can we do better? Evaluating every situation with a high standard creates an opportunity for achieving even higher deliverables, which leads to success and growth.”
Looking to the future, she says, “Planning and being prepared for change is more essential than ever. I read everything I can and ask a lot of questions, not just about network radio and digital audio, but also about emerging trends in advertising, other media, technology, and more. You have to look forward and be prepared so that when opportunities arise, you are ready to step forward and lead your team into new areas.”
22Ann Marie Cumming
National Association of Broadcasters
“I don’t think there’s a threshold at which one reaches success,” says Ann Marie Cumming. “It’s more about consistently giving your all, and hopefully enjoying yourself along the way. I’ve learned from the best and am fortunate to be part of a team that encourages individuals to think creatively and always strive to improve upon what’s been done. I thoroughly enjoy my job, and I hope that comes through in the work that I do. Every day is a different challenge, an opportunity to work with interesting people and to learn something new. I’m appreciative of that.”
Cumming believes success in radio requires “a forward-thinking approach to the business and a passion and appreciation for the indispensable role that radio plays in people’s everyday lives.”
She adds, “Radio should leverage its strengths and be its own best advocate. Remind listeners, advertisers, and policymakers about the qualities that have made radio the legacy medium that it is today, with its diverse programing, strong connections to local communities, the lifeline role it serves in emergencies, its impact on local economies and commitment to community service. It’s also important to look toward the future to determine how we attract talented young people to the business and ensure that radio is accessible on multiple platforms, when and where people are most likely to listen.”
After a long and successful run as PD at Top 40 WHTZ (Z100) in New York, Sharon Dastur was recently promoted to the iHeartMedia National Programming Platforms team as senior vice president of programming integration. Now Dastur will be creating the cutting-edge programs that leverage iHeart’s assets for brands and partners, and will assist in program execution with artist, managers, and labels.
“In this business, and really any business, you need to be able to adapt and change as the business changes,” she says. “Not everyone does that, and I feel that is one of the main things that has contributed to my success. Being able to successfully program radio is a lot different than it used to be. Now, in order to really succeed, you have to stay on top of your game by not only programming to your audience terrestrially, but digitally and socially too. All three of those things have become crucial elements in connecting to your audience and helping your station to grow.”
“It takes a lot of creative energy and a really stubborn personality to succeed in radio,” says Delilah. “If you are going to make a mark in this industry, you have to stay the course and stay true to yourself. It’s important to have a solid support system. I’ve been fortunate to have really good people in my life who believed in me and helped me along this path. Thanks to them, I didn’t have to give up radio and do something else just to make money; I was able to stay true to my dreams until I got back on my feet again.”
NAB Education Foundation
The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reinforcing the future of broadcasting through a commitment to education, and to advancing excellence in the diversity and community service efforts of the industry. Michelle Duke has been the VP at NABEF for six years, responsible for managing operations and for the design, development, and management of NABEF’s leadership initiatives.
Duke owes much of her success to a number of women who have mentored her throughout her career. “They have given me honest feedback, insight on navigating corporate culture, and encouragement as I have progressed in my career,” she says.”I’d say my journey has been a bit unusual because since an early age — 17 — when I started my media career, I have had numerous female managers who have taken a sincere interest in my growth. They helped to develop my talent and supported me with wise advice along the way.”
Duke adds, “You must have the ability to adapt and be open to reinvent yourself if you want to succeed today.”
Shelly Easton is now in her sixth year as a major-market (Philadelphia is market number nine) program director. She is both respected and liked, and says her success is a result of her willingness to be flexible and open to change on every level, and an ability to look at the same things in new ways.
“I also have an ability to interpret lifestyle shifts in our audience and adjust to them, so they continue to feel our brands and stations are relevant to them personally,” says Easton. “Situations and company policies change. Technology and demands change. However, good leadership does not change. So the last piece would be to remain introspective and committed to growing our own emotional intelligence as managers.”
When Easton sees a challenge ahead, she tries to recognize it, accept it, and make a plan to manage it. “If any challenge does not directly impact the success of my goal, I keep my head down and don’t get sucked in.”
On Air With Ryan Seacrest
As the co-host of On Air With Ryan Seacrest, where she’s been since 2004, Ellen K is an important part of one of the most successful syndicated programs in the iHeartMedia arsenal. “I’m so grateful to be surrounded by people who love radio, which is one of the most important building blocks of a winning team,” she says. “With the right mix of people — from management to production to on-air personalities — good things are bound to happen. I also believe in the power of positivity. As cliched as it may sound, it works! Believe in yourself and others, be happy, be grateful, and always appreciate that when you love your job, you are truly living the dream.”
Asked for advice she’d offer to others, Ellen K says, “Never stop growing or learning from your experiences and other people, and have passion for what you do. I was the geeky kid listening to radio shows in Chicago, and I couldn’t get enough. I studied those guys and their shows like it was curriculum, and I enjoyed every minute of it because it was fun. Little did I realize that I’d grow up to be one of those guys — but a girl. Ha.”
Chief Revenue Officer
Marketron Broadcast Solutions
“It’s important to recognize in any management role that you serve others — not the other way around,” says Esayian. “I believe my job is to help others succeed so that we can achieve our goals. Inspired people can move mountains, and I’ve been privileged to witness this time and time again in my career.”
President & CEO
Radio Advertising Bureau
In many ways, Erica Farber has become the face of radio; as president and CEO of the RAB, she is radio’s lead storyteller to advertisers. Farber is a frequent speaker at conferences and events, always out front touting the benefits of using radio. “I would like to think I continue to succeed and make a difference because I deliver,” she says. “Over the years there are several things that have remained constant in my career. I work hard. I show up on time. I listen. I don’t burn bridges. I surround myself with smart people. I deliver as promised. I truly care. And most important, I do not take myself too seriously. I make sure to enjoy every single day and every single opportunity.”
Asked what advice she’d give on how to succeed in radio in 2015 and beyond, Farber turns the question around. “The question is, really, what does it take to succeed in business this year and beyond? The world around us and how people function in today’s environment are changing every minute. We have to be open and aware of everything going on within and around us. One can no longer say, ‘We do this because we have always done it that way.’ I believe we need to question everything.
“There is a plethora of information available, and we are all bombarded with it. We have to stay focused on our goals and do everything we can with what is available to us to make the best decisions we possibly can. And we have to be nimble and move swiftly. I heard it said best in a meeting recently, that ‘We all have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.’ That is absolutely the new normal!”
Great advice from iHeartMedia’s San Diego market manager, who now oversees seven stations and 150 people. “We have to know more than radio to succeed in radio,” Melissa Forrest says. “We have to know how to be marketers. We have to understand that the way our product is being consumed is constantly evolving. We are digital and multi-platform. We have to be prepared to discuss the relevance and ROI of radio, as well as the ideal marketing mix for maximizing clients’ ad spend. If we do not understand marketing, we cannot speak to a client’s use of other media and how radio can be used to drive clicks, searches, branding, and sales.
“Being successful beyond 2015 requires us to do more on the content side of radio as well. We hold the content keys with the number of ears we have listening. We have the ability to drive uniques and impressions with our talent, our features, our events and our music. Radio is social. Radio has video opportunities. Radio can be viral. It is up to us as an industry to stay relevant and drive the impressions and uniques we own.”
Melissa’s three rules for overcoming big challenges:
1. Surround yourself with the right team, and build a winning culture.
2. Be willing to stick your neck out for your team and for what is right, and always give your team credit for the work they do. Your team will pay it back in hard work.
3. Be willing to make the hard call and have the tough conversation. Lead from the front, and do not delegate the most difficult situations to anyone else.
Sarah Frazier is running a six-station cluster in the number six market. She’s been market manager since 2012, after a promotion from DOS, and is now responsible for 200 full- and part-time employees. Want to succeed as Frazier has? Have the right people in your corner and on your team. “When starting your career, it’s important who you decide to work for,” she says. “I’ve had the honor of working for great bosses, people who allowed me the freedom to ask questions and learn about things far outside of my purview. Through their teaching, I was ready for the next step, far before I ever needed those skills. It helped me to hit the ground running when I stepped up. Since then, I have been fortunate to hire many hard-working and determined people who’ve made me look good, and I consistently try to surround myself with people who want to win as badly as I do. You can’t succeed without your team.”
Like every manager walking the planet, Frazier’s biggest challenge is leading through change. “As our industry evolves its business model, there is, and will continue to be, change,” she says, “so I try to be as transparent and honest as possible about it. I try to listen, and walk the halls often to hear what’s going on and how we are functioning holistically. We do an annual, and 100 percent anonymous, full-staff questionnaire to gauge employee satisfaction, and work to address any issues.
“And then there’s the fun part: Four times a year we get the entire team together for mandatory fun and team bonding. We do a Community Service Day, a Field Day, and our annual Halloween Costume Contest. Laughter has a lot of power. The most important thing we have is our people, so working to keep them happy is a top priority.”
VP/Programming & Operations Manager
PD, KHMX & KKHH
CBS Radio Houston
Charese Frugé is still on her way up the radio ladder, having most recently been promoted to VP/programming & OM for CBS Radio in Houston after working for the broadcaster in Las Vegas. She says her success is a result of her drive to be the best. “I’ve succeeded because once I got the radio bug, I was driven by passion, and despite the major challenges I’ve been faced with in the business, I’ve never looked back,” she says. “When someone told me I couldn’t do it, I worked to prove them wrong. When someone told me no, I found a workable way to get a yes. I became ‘solution-based’ right away. And that’s the only way to move forward.”
On what it takes to succeed in 2015 and beyond, Frugé says you’ll need passion for your product and any extensions of the brand, and an understanding of the big picture: “You have to understand and support the business side of radio in addition to the programming side. You have to be ‘solution-based.’ And, more importantly, you have to choose your battles wisely. That’s the most important lesson I have learned over the years.”
33Mary Beth Garber
Katz Media Group
Mary Beth Garber has been one of radio’s biggest cheerleaders for a very long time. First with the Southern California Broadcasters Association for a lucky 13 years, and now, for the past four years, with Katz Media Group. “I’ve succeeded by dreaming big and being determined to live up to that dream,” says Garber. “By shrugging off, but learning from, setbacks. By believing I could do anything I really wanted to do. By finding great mentors. By adapting quickly to and then embracing change. By always being curious. By recognizing great talent and either hiring it or working for it.”
On overcoming challenges, she says, “I’ve been fired twice. I’ve been ‘merged out’ once. I’ve worked for people who did not consider it in their best interests to promote or even to teach me, and for bosses who created hostile workplaces. I overcame those setbacks by seeking out people in the business who would believe in me. By realizing, admitting to myself, that I had to get out from under or around bad bosses. Grit, determination, belief that I could do it, eagerness to learn even when there was no one to teach, and probably some luck, led me to people who took chances on me. I worked to turn those chances into opportunities and success.”
Geller Media International
Valerie Geller believes it’s important to take risks, work hard, and learn your craft. And she should know: There are very few people in the industry who don’t know Valerie Geller and the passion she has for making radio stronger. “Treat people fairly,” she says. “Learn from mistakes, and when they happen, get up and go again. Try new things. This is creative work, and unless you experiment and take some chances, you won’t get there. Specifically, there are no ‘shortcuts’ to making it in any field.
“I worked hard to learn this craft, and was willing to do what it took. At the time, that meant moving — a lot. I moved 10 times before ending up in New York City. (The early part of my career was spent at radio stations in Casper, WY; Grand Rapids, MI; Colorado Springs; Denver; Tampa; Phoenix; San Francisco; and Los Angeles, before I got to New York City. ) I was also willing to do anything to learn and took jobs on air, producing, reporting, being a news director, talk show host, and program director before I got to have my own business as a broadcasting trainer and consultant, and work around the world.
“I loved each step of the way, but being versatile and willing to move, take different kinds of jobs to learn the business — being willing to be flexible — all helped me succeed. Then comes one more piece of the puzzle, and it’s an important part: Share what you know. Mentor others. Give back.”
NuVoodoo Media Services
Gilbert says to succeed today, you’ll need to be tenacious and have the guts to do the right thing. “Have the intelligence to know what the right thing is,” she says. “Have the knowledge of business and industry beyond radio. Other companies and industries have overcome obstacles similar to those we’re facing now. Understanding that and being willing to speak up about it will help anyone ultimately reach their professional goals.”
EVP/Chief Communications Officer
To succeed in 2015, Goldberg says it will take a commitment and a “willingness to adapt rapidly to the ever-changing media marketplace.” She points out, “Radio needs to be everywhere its audience is — on every device and platform consumers are using — to remain a necessary and relevant part of consumers’ media mix.”
37Dra. Isabel Gomez-Bassols
Dr. Isabel Gomez-Bassols came into radio by chance, after working in education for 28 years, and she’s now a big star in the Hispanic radio community. Her advice to others: “You must put in the effort to be relevant in the society we live in now, to embrace the fact that we are now more than a voice on the radio, but connected through the Internet arena, and constantly in social media pages (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Posting information, articles promoting social justice and a greater understanding, or simple messages to inspire or motivate, including facets of your life as a citizen in the world we live in. Social media is an important distribution platform and add-on for the radio to keep listeners engaged.”
She goes on, “We have seen this development not just for radio but also for TV programming. There will be a need to develop a certain media personality, always remembering social media, to be fun, thoughtful, sometimes controversial, see what you get, and decide which way to go.”
On social media, Gomez-Bassols advises, “As in radio, have a routine, plan, and when you contribute, be visible and constant. Analyze what resonates with people by reviewing your likes on social media pages. It helps to see what are the peaks and valleys of your input. That can even help you to plan for the radio program and be maintain relevance. Be visible, visit the communities you serve — that sense of family that occurs so often with radio, it’s enhanced when you visit them.”
Gress says she’s had the great luck of being able to work with some of the best people in the radio business. “These (almost exclusively) men generously shared their knowledge and insight with me,” she says. “They gave me all the encouragement in the world to proceed in radio. This, plus sheer hours of hard work, relentless determination, and a passion to see my company, station, and those around me succeed, mutually have been the driving force in my career.”
Regional Market President
Alene Grevey manages the day-to-day operation of the iHeartMedia Charleston, SC, cluster and has responsibility over Columbia, SC; Savannah, GA; and Florence and Myrtle Beach, SC. In all, Grevey has 30 stations to manage and about 110 people to lead. And she says it’s no secret that she loves her work. “I’m passionate about what I do, the company I work for, and the people that surround me,” she says. “It’s real, not an act. I tell my staff, ‘The day you aren’t leaning forward and eager to start a new day, move on.’
“I’m extremely choosy with whom I hire and eager to see them succeed and move up in our organization. You have the choice to be an administrator, a manager, or a leader. Leaders succeed. I am a leader in many ways. I maintain a key focus on results, not effort. Speed to action is critical, and fast decisionmaking is essential. I’m a firm believer that you cannot measure your success, because it lies within the lives of those you have helped.”
The best advice Grevey has for those attempting to reach the top: Have a plan, and stay focused on achieving that plan. “But know that things change rapidly, so anticipating changes in a plan is critical. Being quick to pivot and move in a different direction when circumstances change is a key point to succeeding in radio and beyond. Simmering reactions to a minimum and getting into action is essential when change occurs. Surround yourself with people who have the attitude that anything is possible and the aptitude to get the job done. Never stop learning, ask questions, and be relatable.”
Cox Media Group
Kim Guthrie has become one of the most recognizable faces in the radio industry. She’s consistently lending her time to RAB and NAB events and other organizations in addition to her very important role as executive VP at Cox Media Group. And when she’s with her colleagues at events, you can sense the genuine trust and respect they have for her, and she for them. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with and work for many talented people in my career,” Guthrie says. “I have learned something from each and every one of them.”
Her advice to others trying to make it in radio: “As a manager early in my career, I needed to learn to delegate. The neat thing is, once you set the expectation for the outcome you want, your people will find incredibly different ways to achieve that defined outcome. But they learn by doing, and you learn by watching the different ways people tackle a project. It was an eye-opener for me. Leadership is really the spreading of hope that something can be done — but it’s such a joy to watch how your people develop and grow as they figure out how to get it done.”
The Joan Hamburg Show
On-air legend Joan Hamburg says she learned early in her career that it’s about the audience, not about her. “I was always willing to do my homework and share my research resources and contacts,” she says. “I was also told as a young broadcaster that each listener is your last, so respect each and every one.”
She goes on, “We must embrace technology to cater to shorter attention spans and embrace listening on demand. Podcasts are vital. To survive as a broadcaster is challenging as more and more stations are coming under the umbrella of large conglomerates. Respecting advertising is essential. And no matter what stage one is at in one’s career, change is part of it.”
44Mary Ellen Kachinske
Kachinske says she’s grateful to have worked in autonomous environments that encouraged going above and beyond any particular role. As she observes, “It’s so important to pay attention and observe all that is going on around us. That’s the only way to identify new possibilities, by listening and being open to new experiences that can be uncovered. Employers also need to pay attention to what’s going right and empower that competence.
“Often stations don’t provide the freedom or the flexibility to employees to make greater workplace contributions, and to pursue their passions inside work and out. That freedom can only lead to better innovation, productivity, and harmony. For the future, companies need to begin serious outreach programs to find the next great AM show, program director, or GM. There are very few coming up behind us, and we owe it to our great profession to find and train the next generation of communicators now.”
Media Staffing Network
Need a strong hire, one that will stay with you for the long term and produce for you and your stations? Laurie Kahn is the person to turn to, and she’s been helping broadcasters in that department for many years. Why? “I am stubborn and curious,” she says, “which has kept me on top of trends that we needed to make adjustments for to be effective for clients and candidates.”
And if you want to succeed in this business, you’ll need to be flexible and open to change, according to Kahn: “Business is done differently, so it is crucial to be able to make adjustments and keep learning to stay effective.”
Radio Advertising Bureau
When Erica Farber needs something done at the RAB, Leah Kamon is the person who makes it happen. And when you need something from or about the RAB, she’s the first person you’ll want to reach out to. “I’ve been lucky to have wonderful mentors and colleagues throughout my career,” Kamon says. “They’ve guided me and encouraged me to take risks and enjoy what I do, leading to success.” If someone were to ask Kamon for advice on how to hit the big time in radio here’s what she’d tell them: “We are living and working in an era of rapid change, and I truly believe a thirst for curiosity continues to be critical to succeeding in radio. The more you learn, the more you know, the more you understand the future of media.”
President of Sales
Succeeding in radio today takes drive, passion, and the ability to change, according to Kenyon. “You also need to be a risk taker,” she points out. “Change is needed and calculated risks need to be taken or we will never be seen as a growth industry again.”
Sheila F. Kirby
For more than three decades, Sheila Kirby has been dedicated to influencing and empowering radio sales managers and AEs. Friend Bonnie Rarick says of Kirby, “Her vast knowledge of the industry and skillful approach to training have helped generate countless millions for radio stations across the country.”
Kirby attributes her success to a disciplined passion and quest for knowledge. She explains, “To stay ahead of the curve and to share knowledge with colleagues, clients, and co-workers, I diligently research and keep abreast of shifts or changes in economic conditions, technological advancements, trends, and consumer behaviors. Most importantly, I set short- and long-term goals and have a strategic plan, which is refined and revisited quarterly and annually. This allows me the opportunity to adapt personally and professionally. I am very fortunate to have a very strong network of family, friends, and mentors who inspire and support me.”
The Lia Show
Why has Lia Knight succeeded for so many years as a syndicated host? She says, “Because I’ve busted my ass, worked long hours, gotten lucky, volunteered, begged, demanded, took charge, gave up control. I’ve stuck to my guns, though sometimes I’ve had to lower my standards. And I might be part cockroach. I love radio. I love the music, and I love the listeners. I love the connection. My desperate need to maintain that connection to people keeps my fire lit.”
And if you want to be a success on the air in radio over the long haul? “We are all more than just a radio show or radio station,” she says. “We are all content providers. Every medium at your disposal needs to be utilized to entertain your audience and advance your brand. You better love you some social media. You need to be able to change and adapt quickly. You’re going to need to eliminate the words ‘That’s not my job’ from your vocabulary. Every single person I know in radio does the work of at least two people, maybe more. Master some time-management skills, too, because it’s very easy to allow your life to become precariously unbalanced in this business. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your family.”
Dir./Sports Sales & Marketing
We wonder just how many women occupy the position of director of sports and sales marketing in the radio industry. Kowalski says her creativity is what helped get her to where she is today. “I’m always the ‘Well, what if we did this?’ type of person,” she says. “I know that sounds pretty basic, but I look for different ways to ‘tackle’ — football pun intended — everything. Just because it’s the ‘way we’ve always done it’ doesn’t mean that it’s the best way! I think, as leaders in this industry, it is our obligation to be innovators and visionaries and show others that you can put a square peg in a round hole. You just need to figure out a way to do it.”
Kowalski has taken all the steps to put herself in a position to advance, and she also counts one of radio’s 40 Most Powerful People as a mentor. “How can you go wrong when Weezie Kramer takes you under her wing?” she says. “And in 2009, I was fortunate enough to be an MIW Mildred Carter Mentoring Program mentee, and that opportunity had a profound impact on me personally and professionally. But perhaps the biggest reason for my success is the simple fact that along the way, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by some amazing women (and men) in radio. It is no secret that being a woman in this industry is challenging. And for me in particular, being the woman that heads up the Sports Sales and Marketing Department, it’s even more challenging. There is always going to be that guy who thinks that because he understands the game better, he would be better than I am at what I do. But while he’s analyzing the game, and talking to all the other guys analyzing games, I’m busy demonstrating how radio connects the game, and our fans, to our sponsors.”
Owner & President
If you want to succeed in 2015, follow Jinny Laderer’s rules:
1. Invest in people.
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
3. Take risks.
4. Don’t be afraid to fail forward.
5. Persevere. Keep planting and watering, for, in time, you will reap a great harvest if you don’t give up.
“I spend time each day reading scripture and in prayer,” Laderer says. “Proverbs 31:10-31 is a description of a successful woman — 20 years ago, I made it my life goal. Scripture helps me remain focused on what’s important. Prayer is my lifeline. ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ — Mark 11:24 KJ.”
President/Business Development & Partnerships
Michelle Laven has been moving steadily up the iHeartMedia ladder; most recently she was promoted from president of partnerships and local activation to a newly created post as iHeart’s president of business development and partnerships. Laven believes that to succeed in radio today, you must have vision and the will to act on that vision.
After Hours With Amy Lawrence
CBS Sports Radio Network
Amy Lawrence, in her own words: “I would have quit long ago without deep-seated passion for the art of radio, for its entertainment value, for sports. When I was 16, I fell in love with the idea of describing a game or event or play in such a way that the listener doesn’t feel like he’s missing out simply because he can’t see it with his own eyes. Pursuit of that passion keeps me moving forward.”
She continues, “Crafting a unique product is essential in today’s crowded market. For me, it starts with contagious energy and enthusiasm, an irreverent approach, humor, relatability, authenticity, creativity, interaction, and strong opinions. Embracing what makes me different helps me find a niche in a world where there are so many entertainment options. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ Faith and perspective serve me well. It’s easy to get lost in a storm — losing out on a promotion, failing miserably at a new venture, getting fired — but taking stock of how far I’ve come is helpful. A few moments to look back, on the mountains already scaled and challenges already conquered, boosts my faith and reminds me everything is possible.”
Bob & Sheri
“Any success I’ve enjoyed is probably the result of my inability to feel successful,” says Sheri Lynch. “I’m basically allergic to comfort. Comfort makes me restless and uneasy. This restlessness is why I constantly challenge myself — and everyone around me. I’m not afraid to try, learn, and do more. It’s why I got my masters (in social work, emphasis on clinical mental health) two years ago. It’s why I felt intrigued by PPM and not threatened by it.
“It’s why I’m currently learning to tap dance. (Tap dancing is much, much harder to adjust to than PPM, by the way. Especially if you’ve pickled your brain in as much Tito’s as I have.) And let’s never forget that radio is a collaborative medium. I’ve been lucky to have some great collaborators, starting with my partner, Bob Lacey. And the ones that weren’t so great? I wore them down with my relentless enthusiasm for the art and craft of broadcasting, or hid their bodies in the weedy underbrush of various lonely exits off of I-95. Whatever. Stop being so judge-y. It’s a tough business.”
Access.1 Communications Corp.
Maddox-Dorsey says, “I have succeeded only by working with smart people who are generous in spirit and willing to share their knowledge with me.”
GM, KPWR (Power 106)/Los Angeles
Maria Marín Live
“The secret of my success is based on my own feedback,” says Marin, who is heard in major Spanish-language markets from Miami to L.A. “I record my show every day and play it back to assess where and how I can improve. I work on my skills daily, and I have never stopped developing them. Giving my audience the best of me is my everyday goal.”
And for the future? “Digital and social media integrations are the key to succeed in radio in 2015 and beyond.”
New York City
If you need something with the CBS Radio signature on it, Karen Mateo is the person you go to: She’s keeping a close eye on how the brand is received. “I’ve been fortunate to work for a great company that has provided me with experienced mentors and tremendous opportunity to advance my knowledge of the business,” Mateo says. “I appreciate the position I’m in and have never taken that for granted. Each and every day, I am dedicated to the work I do and challenge myself to be more creative, and open to new ideas. Success in radio is no different than succeeding in any other industry. It’s important to work hard, know the business landscape, be a team player, admit when you’re wrong, and have conviction in your decisions. Most importantly, it’s critical to be able to adapt to new environments and evolve your way of thinking, as technology and demand for audio content changes every day.”
On overcoming challenges, Mateo reflects, “I tend to be a bit methodical when it comes to facing a challenge, spending a great deal of time educating myself on the situation, talking to a number of interested parties, evaluating the pros and cons, and finally coming up with a plan. Even with all of that preparation, things are bound to go another way entirely, and that’s when you lean on your experience and ability to react quickly to make it through safely to the other side.”
Kerry Sachs McFeetors
SVP/General Sales Manager
Katz Radio Group
Kerry McFeetors says she has always held herself to high standards, both personally and professionally. “I work hard, care a lot, and have integrity,” she says. “I am confident enough to push hard and fight for what I believe in. If something is worth doing, then I give it all I’ve got. “I like to be a winner and work with winners, and I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best. I believe all of this has led to my success. I believe to succeed you need to stay hungry, not be afraid to fail, try new things, be creative, build strong relationships, have integrity, and be a student of your industry and all emerging technologies.”
Davidson Media Group
[email protected],, ,, ,, ediagr, oup.com
According to Sue McNamara, honesty is the key ingredient to success. “Clients want and need to trust the people they are working with,” she notes. “Stop selling radio, start selling solutions. We are so much more than radio. We need to show our clients how we can showcase their brand through many channels — radio, digital, events, social media. It has become, , very difficult to reach consumers by purchasing only one medium. We need to be more idea-driven. Clients are looking for great ideas that can break through clutter. We can do that.”
Denyse Smith Mesnik
Beasley Broadcast Group
She helps keep the Beasley Broadcast machine running shipshape, and she does it with a smile. Denyse Mesnik is often seen side by side with members of the Beasley family, and they clearly rely on her as an important part of the company. “My job is dependent on creating and maintaining relati, onships,” Mesnik says. “Longevity in the field certainly helps, but integrity, accessibility, and credibility have made the relationships meaningful and productive.
“Participating in industry-related groups, such as NAB, RAB, the MIW Executive Committee, Radio Communicators Group, and the Florida Association of Broadcasters keeps me aware of, broadcasting and communications trends. Collaborating with radio professionals who are equally committed to ensuring a vibrant future for our industry keeps me inspired and offers a valuable support system.”
Miller Broadcast Management
Miller says there is no question that being a woman in business is still a challenge. “Until the men embrace our presence,” she says, “being a woman will continue to be an obstacle.”
But her persistence has helped her succeed. She advises, “Don’t leave until you get what you came for, and always be prepared to present an alternate solution.”
Success is all about focus, according to iHeartMedia’s Thea Mitchem. And as the SVP in charge of New York, DC, Philly, an, d, Baltimore, Mitchem must be super focused. Her recipe for success: “Knowing what you want to accomplish early in your career and letting that guide your decisions along the way. Also, I’ve always challenged myself to take on new and different responsibilities. It helps you hone your skills and keeps you always learning and growing. I believe in taking calculated risks, trying new things, and fighting for what you believe is right for your brands. I also think it’s important to bet on yourself. If you won’t, why should someone else?”
Mitchem continues, “I believe that when you are tackling a competitive challenge, most often the first thing you have to do is work on adjusting the mindset of the culture, of the station, company, or division you are working with to achieve the goal. Your teams need to believe that it’s possible to be great and to unde, rstand the vision and what they are working toward. Then you have to lead that change, and reinforce the change daily. You cannot leave it to someone else to set the tone. You have to be the driver. You set the bar of excellence and what success looks like. In my biggest competitive challenges, that is always step one.”
VP/Sales Support Services
United Stati, , o, n, s Radio Networks
At USRN, Moore oversees all the departments and staff that support the company’s ad sales efforts. And that includes the research department, traffic department, affiliate compliance department, and any other function that supports revenue generation. And , ,, if you want to succeed in 2015, Moore says you must be super-responsive to clients. “, , That’s not new,” she notes, “but monitoring systems, programmatic buying, and other new technologies give our clients new and better ways to get things done, , and we must embrace that. For e, xample, our advertisers tak, e advantage of our ability to do d, e, tailed regi, onal copy splits, accommodate last-minute revisions, and monitor, and detect incorrect airings. Compliance details are,, very important, and our partner agencies really expect things to be done in a more accelerated and efficient way. And we’re here to help — that’s our business.”
Beth Neuhoff is featured in this issue, with a special interview, as our cover story.
Connoisseur Media Connecticut
(Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford-Norwalk)
Kristin Okesson is now running four markets, with 100 employees reporting to her, for Jeff Warshaw’s Connoisseur Media in Connecticut. Her success, she says, is a result of having had the opportunity to work with talented people who genuinely cared about the success of her career. “I have tremendous gratitude for that,” says Okesson. “I have been given amazing opportunities and worked really hard to prove to those that put their faith in me that they made the right choice.”
She adds, “I’m not afraid to make decisions and take calculated risks. I believe some of my decisions have been courageous and ended up defining our group in a positive way from a programming, community, employee, and customer service perspective. Most importantly, I find, hire, and keep the best people — these are the folks that are smart and have that special something you can’t teach. It’s that light they bring when they walk in a room; it’s an intangible characteristic. I look for people that radiate positivity and dedication and have good intuition, those who want to be motivated, not micromanaged. To continue to succeed, I need to have the best people. My team knows that I care about them deeply, and together we really do make magic happen. We are never, ever afraid of failure.”
Olin and Associates
National Spokesperson, MIW Radio Group
In order to succeed, Olin says, you will need to remain a constant and curious student, have vision, and be an ambassador for radio. “Let your passion for building collaboration of new media and radio lead,” she says. “The wonderful network of radio’s MIWs, their support and mentorship, helped me overcome my biggest challenges. They have always stepped forward and held me up with their knowledge and enthusiastic support through many bumps in the road. What a fabulous group of cheerleaders to have as wind beneath your wings! I have been blessed to have been recognized as an MIW and find so much joy in giving back as others have done for me.”
Kelly Kibler Owens
Owens, who’s responsible for 32 stations and 400 employees for iHeartMedia, says, “The characteristics of a superior modern-day manager include a sincere desire to reconsider historic conventions and convictions and an enthusiasm for the new knowledge necessary to successfully compete for audiences and advertisers.”
She notes, “Managers are faced with this new challenge under the influence of improved delivery systems, elevated product expectations, and heightened accountability. In the present day, a successful manager will display a thorough grasp of the material opportunities digital product presentations offer for additive advertiser values, elaborate program content, and increased marketing reach and relevance.”
73Susan K. Patrick
Co-Owner, Legend Communications
Founder and President
Presslaff Interactive Revenue.
Twitter: @livelaff, @pirwizard
While this list has grown to 100 in 2015, it was far from that when we first launched. Ruth Presslaff has been there for you, and with us, from the very start. Those who know Presslaff know she’s filled with a dogged determination, not to mention at the ready to mentor anyone and everyone ready and willing to make a serious move in this business. She’s no-nonsense and has always been a fighter: “It just never occurred to me to give up.”
And if you want to stand out, Presslaff says you’ll need to “know about data.” She says, “It fuels the Internet. It’s a deep source of recurring revenue. Look at Pandora, Spotify, Facebook. These platforms sell with data. These companies trade in metrics and measurement, with information about actual users. Radio should play the same game. Invest in collecting first-party data, analyze it, apply it, and drive actionable results.”
Univision Local Media
Claudia Puig oversees UCI’s radio (and television) stations in South Florida, with responsibility for local sales, content, digital, operations, and community relations. Univision Miami’s portfolio of radio assets includes WAMR-FM, WRTO-FM, WAQI-AM, and WQBA-AM, in addition to its digital and social platforms. In our rapidly evolving industry, Puig says it’s important to stay ahead of the curve through new technologies and industry best practices.
“Radio is part of a total convergence of multimedia where, more than ever before, content is king. The success of radio will depend on the distribution of quality content through streaming, apps, social media, and whatever other technology becomes relevant.”
Puig says passion for what she does has been a driving force throughout her career. “This, coupled with endurance, energy, and a continuous commitment to excellence, has been instrumental in helping me be successful. In addition, having and maintaining the right team of experienced professionals, energized and empowered, has made my own performance excel.”
SVP/OPS National Sales
Mary Quass is featured in this issue, with a special interview, as our 2015 MIW Legend.
VP/Marketing, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs
Tenacity and hard work are traits that have helped Monica Rabassa throughout her career. “I have never cut corners in my pursuit of excellence,” she says, “believing that anything can be achieved if you put your heart into it. I have always persisted when facing obstacles, aiming for high standards while focusing on each of the steps needed to achieve them. I have been very fortunate to be part of one of the best teams in the industry; their professionalism, experience, and support have made it possible for me to make a positive contribution. Maintaining a positive attitude has also been very helpful.”
Heidi Raphael is the most dedicated person when it comes to encouraging, promoting, and mentoring this Most Influential Women in Radio list. Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth often says he couldn’t get anything done without her. “She lights up every room she steps into, and she has that rare positive personality everybody strives for,” he says. “If you’ve been lucky enough to have her as a mentor, you know how dedicated she is. We are just lucky that she loves our business. You couldn’t ask for a more positive person to be on your side than Heidi Raphael.”
Raphael says, “I’ve been very fortunate to have been surrounded by great mentors and people who were willing to take the time to help me along the way.”
Rounds says she’s succeeded with the help of “a good teacher and collaborative business partner, many years of experience, and because I am a good listener.” She goes on, “I love popular music and radio shows, and I’m persistent, friendly, and genuinely like people. Together, these qualities, paired with years of hard work, have created the international success of Radio Express and fueled my own professional success.”
To succeed in radio today, she says, “You have to be constantly in tune with the changes in the audio space, consumer behaviors, and the larger media and entertainment context — and you must fully embrace the digital side of the business. You cannot rely on broadcast radio alone to sell advertisers and have successful stations and vibrant brands. Stations must offer quality, relevant programming, and rather than target their audience, they must interact and build a relationship with their audience.”
Suzy Schultz has been leading the marketing team at Westwood One for the last two years. Over that time she’s transformed that team into a full-service internal agency, and has been instrumental in helping Westwood One as a whole become a multi-platform media company. And Schultz says it’s important to stay adaptable and up-to-date with the ever-evolving media landscape.
“Every trend is an opportunity to learn and evolve our business,” she says. “That said, we can’t lose sight of our medium’s core super power of connecting people to their passions in life. Radio will continue to be relevant across new platforms. Edison Research found that AM/FM radio is the king of all audio, with more than 50 percent of time spent listening. That’s eight times the time spent listening to Pandora. As an industry, we need to continue to share insights about the power of radio.”
VP/Director of Analysis
R Communications Radio & Television
Scott believes there are elements essential to success today. “Those include persistence, dedication, creating value, going the ‘second mile,’ helping others achieve their goals, putting the interests of the company first, and treating every job with a high degree of diligence and genuine care,” she says. “Leadership has privileges, but only because it involves great sacrifice, and respect must be earned. Radio has never been a 9-to-5 job to me — it’s a career to which I’ve given my blood, sweat, and tears. In addition to working on a station and at corporate level, I’ve always volunteered to serve on boards and committees in order to lend my expertise to help further the interests of radio, and have often stayed late to help an AE’s presentation, even after they’ve left for the day.”
Regional Reps Corp.
Sharpe says she’s been a success because she’s stubborn, competitive, fearless, and refuses to take no for an answer — and she’s completely unapologetic. She adds, however, “But that’s only a small part of it. I’ve been successful because I surround myself with the best and the brightest, and have a tremendous support network both at work and in life. I wouldn’t be where I am without their support, encouragement, and all the times they told me what I didn’t want to hear.”
To be successful in radio in 2015, Sharpe says, “You can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I think I’ll do radio today.’ It’s an all-in commitment, and you have to keep learning, keep moving, and, most importantly, keep innovating. You can’t half-ass it and hope for the best. It’s not just a job — we have the power to effect change, and we need to harness that. The media industry changes so fast, we can’t afford to sit back and wait to see what others are going to do.”
EVP/Business to Consumer Division
As the executive VP of the consumer-facing division of Ramsey Solutions, Suzanne Simms works for one of the most successful self-made radio brands in the industry today. In that post, she leads all media, live events, publishing, and consumer products, as well as new personalities and the new consumer budget software Every Dollar. Simms also sits on the company’s operating board as one of seven members who set strategy for, and lead, the organization of 475 team members.
Working for Dave Ramsey means succeeding in balance, according to Simms; she says, “My biggest challenge has been truly accepting and settling into the role of high-level executive with an enormous amount of responsibility while balancing my life as a wife and mother. I’ve developed a good stride now, and my paradigm over the past few years has shifted dramatically from ‘working for the income because my family needs it’ to ‘I’m meant to be in this role.’ And I’m setting a great example for my children and other women that, A) you can have a strong, healthy work-life balance, and B) women contribute so much in the workplace, especially in executive leadership roles, and we shouldn’t sit on the sidelines.”
Detroit is market number 12, and that’s where Kathy Stinehour has been running the Radio One cluster of four stations, with more 70 employees, for seven years. She says there’s a combination of things that have made her successful over the years, with luck playing a role as well. “First, I have always sought to do a truly great job,” she says. “I want to work for people who expect great things from themselves and their team. I want to hire people who just love to excel and learn and never stop challenging themselves. It’s magical. This has been exciting to me since the first day I stepped into a radio station. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Football is a game of inches.’ So is management. I focus on making progress against my challenges by taking small steps every day.”
What does it take to succeed in radio in 2015 and beyond? “First, re-read Who Moved My Cheese? because, believe me, all the cheese has been moved. Most of us have become very savvy about digital, tech, and social media. It hasn’t been ‘just radio’ for quite a while, but there are some groups making more progress than others.”
SVP/Music & Entertainment
Susan Stephens oversees the production of Westwood One’s music and entertainment programming — from daily and weekend shows to Red Carpet Radio specialty productions. She also works closely with the company’s PDs as they coach talent. “I’ve had a passion for radio and entertaining my entire life,” she says, “and I’ve been lucky enough to have great mentors along the way, including Kirk Stirland, Charles Steinhauer, Mike McVay, Bill Stakelin, Ralph Hacker, and Edie Hilliard. I do have a strong work ethic, for which I thank my dad, who instilled in me at an early age that you can do anything if you listen and apply yourself. My dad also encouraged me to ‘take things apart’ and rebuild or redesign them, which has been a great skill that I use daily.”
To be successful today, Stephens recommends that you maintain focus on your goals, read, ask questions, and listen to what’s happening with radio across the country. Plan your strategy before attacking any challenge.
SVP/Strategic Events & Partnerships
In 2013, Amy Stevens was promoted to her current position, with oversight of all events produced by CBS Radio’s 117 stations and responsibility for developing concerts and live programs. Stevens has been an integral part of producing concerts for CBS Radio with some of music’s top talent, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ed Sheeran, and she’s produced such live events as We Can Survive, featuring Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams, and Ariana Grande, and The Night Before, with Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, and Jason Aldean.
“I believe my greatest success is still ahead of me,” Stevens says. “After any event, I only see areas in which I have failed and need improvement. With that said, the path to where I sit today has been paved with hard work, commitment to seek perfection, and paying attention to the details. I tell it like it is, and most people have appreciated that. I have had some amazing mentors along the way that have shown me the road to success.”
Steve Harvey Morning Show
Shirley Strawberry has for years been a staple of The Steve Harvey Morning Show. “I love what I do, and it’s God who gets me through, plain and simple,” she says. “It’s my faith in him that has made me successful. He has allowed me to stay here this long, and I’m so grateful to have stood the test of time. I also try to stay young at heart, and I believe in hard work, which I learned from my mother. She was the hardest-working woman I’ve ever known.”
Strawberry adds if you want to be successful, you have to love and respect the medium. “Take pride in what it means to work in this field, and don’t just use it as a stepping stone. We were here first — know the history of radio and the importance it still has in this day and time.”
President/Insights, Research & Data Analytics
Radha Subramanyam is the brains behind the recent push iHeartMedia has been making to prove ROI to advertisers and present them with adequate data about radio. It’s an effort that has caught fire across the industry. “I’ve never been afraid to take risks,” she says. “I don’t like to get too comfortable for long. When something starts to feel easy, I look for a new challenge.
“I have approached my career less in terms of moving up the career ladder and more in terms of whether the role is going to stretch and push me. In this age of upheaval, the more open you are to learning new things and the more open you are to change, the more likely you’ll be successful in the long run.”
What does it take to succeed in radio in 2015 and beyond? Subramanyam says, “You must put your consumer at the center of everything and stay true to what he or she wants, regardless of what platform or device is delivering the content. And it’s also crucial that you embrace your advertiser as your true partner. Make their goals your goals, and everybody wins.”
Julie Talbott carries a ton of responsibility for Premiere Networks, a division of iHeartMedia. As president, Talbott oversees the operations for 90 radio programs and services, and manages partnerships with the company’s talent as well as affiliate relations.
Talbot says she “absolutely loves” the business of radio and everything that surrounds it. “I believe having passion for what you do is critical for any successful career,” she says, “but it also takes commitment and a lot of hard work to break through. It’s also important to wake up every day and ask yourself, ‘What could I be doing differently?’ From programming to operations to distribution, what changes can make your business better? Radio has done a great job of expanding across multiple platforms. However, the opportunities to connect with consumers are endless through social media, events, the Internet, streaming, etc. We need to continue pushing ourselves to evaluate all options, so we can reach our customers anywhere and at any time.”
Talbott says the biggest step to overcoming challenges is to accept that you’re never done learning or growing. “If there’s an area where I’m struggling or lacking experience, I try to read everything I can about it — it’s one of the best ways to gather information and ideas, and find solutions or inspiration. Also, I think it’s important to be open to new ideas. The more information that’s shared, the more I can potentially learn, which benefits myself and the company.”
Thompson says the most important element for achieving success is the willingness to change. “Over the past 20 years we’ve become more engaged and multi-dimensional,” she observes. “Branded entertainment didn’t exist 20 years ago, but today you can listen to my stations, follow and like my programs, and watch videos that reflect my lifestyle — all on smartphones, tablets, etc. We are in an exciting time for local broadcasters! Also, you have to wake up every day with passion in your product and, most importantly, your people.”
Christal Radio & KRG Partnerships
“I believe the most successful people are passionate about the work they are doing,” says Travaglini. “I’m lucky to be working for a great company, with great people. My key to success has always been matching passion with creativity, hard work, and having the support of my family. We need to focus on our advertisers and work to build innovative solutions that help drive their success. We need to develop Radio 2.0, with greater audience segmentation and results orientation.”
VP/Comedy + Prep
United Stations Radio Networks
Verghese oversees the development and production of all of USRN’s comedy and prep services, working closely with morning show talent, producers, and PDs around the country to create entertaining and engaging content. She says her success is a result of being passionate about creating content: “I work hard work, and I love to learn and be challenged. Luckily, I’ve also had a tremendous amount of support and encouragement from my family, as well as my colleagues and the executives at United Stations.”
Verghese says that to be successful in 2015 and beyond, radio must continue to be a source for original content. “Resources at the station level can sometimes be scarce,” she says, “but we should take cues from other successful independent creators and personalities, on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and other content hubs. A lot of people finding success have nothing but a smartphone, a great idea, and the will to execute that idea. If you find you’re not sure how to proceed, collaborate with a radio network that can help execute your vision.”
Radio Color Commentator
New York Yankees
WFAN/AM & FM
Waldman says that in the world of sports, a woman is at best tolerated and, at worst, “I have been ignored, had my interviews doctored by producers and tape ops, spit on, had death threats, and been fired — or at least they tried.” She says, “Just believe in yourself, find someone who believes in you, and keep going. What people don’t realize is that radio is a very personal medium. The audience knows if you are honest, if you have something they want to hear, and if they like or dislike you, you will succeed. Be yourself, tell the truth, and keep going. Radio audiences know honesty when they hear it. You will find your voice.”
So how did she succeed? “The easy answer is that I never took no for an answer,” Waldman replies. “That is true, of course, but I do think that if you believe you have something different to impart to an audience — something different from anyone else — you will eventually succeed. It takes a long time to break the paradigm that a woman can’t be successful in a ‘man’s world.’ But if you are yourself, you are honest with your audience, and you keep going, you will succeed.”
“I think it’s important to make a distinction between how and why regarding success,” advises Wilcox. “The why is about what you do to further your own career, and the how is about what you do to make the teams you lead successful. The best leaders prioritize the how. I see three key similarities between both: the desire to transition (a.k.a. ‘be promoted’), the commitment to do the heavy lifting, and the ability to create a culture where high performers can thrive.”
Wilcox continues, “The foundation starts with having clarity around what the distinct expectations and measurements are each time to you take on a new role. The skills it takes to be successful as an individual contributor are different from the skills it takes to be a good manager, or a compelling leader of other managers. While there are certainly building blocks developed at each level, you need to have your eyes open and your defenses down during the transition period. And through each transition, I have identified a strong mentor who can help me identify coming challenges, either in the path ahead or in the outcome of my own behavior.”
Greater Media Inc.
Williams oversees the Greater Media Interactive digital content strategy that includes development of custom digital content for all 20 Greater Media stations. She says she finds herself succeeding when she’s part of a team of smart, creative, and generous people.
William says, “I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to know and work with people in our industry who were willing to not only share their knowledge, but their time. My parents also instilled in my sister and me a love of learning that has been a guiding factor in both our lives. That meant watching the news, reading the paper and books, and then talking about what was going on in the world as a family. They may actually be to blame — or praise — for my obsessive consumption of all types of content ranging from music to world news to the latest in pop culture, theater, art and film.”