How I Became A Radio Leader


Nicky Sparrow is a past member of Radio Ink’s Future African American Leaders in Radio list. She was recently promoted by iHeartMedia to Jacksonville market presi­dent. We asked Sparrow to share the details on how she advanced her career and made it to the top.

I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today. Working hard has been the biggest component of my success. Working hard consists of get­ting to work early, staying late, and coming in on my days off when needed to make sure all deadlines are met.

I was always conscientious about not letting my personal life negatively impact my career. Being a single mom raising three daughters and working, I had to be extremely disciplined. I was very active in my children’s lives. My vacation days were used for field trips. Every morning I drove the girls to school. At some points I was dropping off to two schools, and I was never late for work. I didn’t want anyone to have an excuse to not give me the opportu­nity of advancing.

I’ve taught myself that management is not a 9-to-5 job. To get the results that I want, I have to put in the extra hours. It’s important to network and be a part of the commu­nity. Every market I’ve been in, I quickly got involved in the community and joined influen­tial boards.

I’ve had so many people, in our industry and outside, rooting for me, men and women. They have all given me great advice and helped me believe in myself. When I look back on my career, I’m proud of what I have accom­plished, and I still have plenty more that I want to accomplish. I’m grateful to all of my mentors.

Looking back on my career in the radio industry, a lot of good memories and thoughts come to mind on how it all got started. Just after a move to Tupelo, MS, I was fortunate to be offered my first radio job. I started out as a sales representative in Tupelo. I was hired on to sell our Urban station. I quickly noticed the other stations’ format rates were higher, and I could earn more money by selling them. I didn’t want to sell one station anymore; I was determined to sell more. Selling the other sta­tions required me to become more diverse. It was then that I started to expand my expecta­tions for myself. I noticed my job was not just a job anymore, it was my career.

After being capable of selling multiple stations, I challenged myself to take on manager roles before having the title. It was always important to show my previous man­agers that I was interested in an opportunity to grow. Instead of asking for promotions like most people do, I wanted to display that I was capable of taking on the extra load by offering to help and to assist in areas that were difficult, to show my hard work and dedication.

I’ve received 10 promotions in five markets in my 17-year career. Sometimes you have to be mobile and get out of your comfort zone in order to grow. I’ve been offered numerous jobs throughout the years, and I’ve been very strategic about the positions I accept.

It has been a long time since those days in Tupelo, but the passing of time has allowed me to reflect on how I was able to successfully complete my journey back to Jacksonville as the market president. In looking back, the most important thing that I learned was that success is a combination of many things. It starts with preparation, the ability to take on challenges, dedication to your profes­sion, hard work, a solid understanding of your industry, strong communication skills, superior service to clients, and being profes­sional at all times. Additionally, you have to be prepared to take on the hardships of moving based on the needs of your company. Success is not guaranteed, but the ability to strive is always available.

As I transition into my new role as market president of Jacksonville, FL and Brunswick, GA, I take with me all of my prior experience. It’s important that you learn as much as pos­sible about our industry and all the formats. I did not want to be pigeonholed. It’s important to get ideas and guidance from people with different backgrounds. Because of it, I’ve become a well-rounded manager who is capable of managing any format.

Reach out to congratulate Nicky on her great rise in our industry at [email protected]


  1. Bruce, thank you for seeing the potential in me years ago and not allowing me to quit in the face of adversity. I hope you like the flowers which you watered. God Bless!

  2. Mark Maharrey and GiGi South introduced me to Nicky seventeen years ago when CC brought the Tupelo stations… I am glad to see how resourceful they have all been and really proud of their success… GOD’s word is true…


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