WQDR PD Lisa McKay Has Died

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We learned on Friday that Curtis Media Group’s WQDR PD Lisa McKay would be taking an indefinite leave of absence to battle cancer. Sunday morning she passed away. McKay was only 54. Curtis Media Group Founder Don Curtis told Radio Ink, “McKay was one of the most passionate and devoted associates I have ever had. She leaves a legacy and example that will be difficult to follow.”

GM Trip Savery said, “It is with very heavy hearts that we share the news of Lisa’s passing. She had a tremendous and positive impact on so many people’s lives and careers, and will be greatly missed by all of us. Please send your love, support, and prayers to Lisa and her family.”

CRS Executive Director Bill Mayne said, “ We have unexpectedly lost one of the finest broadcasters I have known during my entire career in Lisa McKay. She was a consummate winner in our business and The best friend you could hope to have as a person. Lisa will truly be missed by all that knew her! I was blessed and honored to have her as a friend and colleague all these years.”

WQDR has posted a tribute wall for Lisa on their website,  where friends, listeners, and colleagues can post prayers and words of encouragement for Lisa.

Lisa and Keith Urban

Late last week, McKay said, “I am grateful beyond belief for the opportunity given to me by Curtis Media Group, and I know this team will continue to excel.”

Every year, including this year, McKay is near the top of Radio Ink’s Best Country PD’s in America list.

Country Radio consultant Joel Raab said, “Lisa was a vibrant, inquisitive, creative person who was incredibly successful in everything she did. So sad that she’s gone too soon.”

1 COMMENT

  1. It is comforting to hear that everyone feels the same way about Lisa as I do. And there is more! Before she was is Raleigh, Lisa McKay was the extremely successful Program Director of Heritage CHR WRVQ-FM. (now owned by Entercom–Clear Channel at the time.)–When I was a new GM in 1992, and she was our Music Director, we needed to fill the PD position. There was a huge task ahead–to bring Q94 back its position as Richmond’s radio leader. Ratings had declined for many reasons, including more competition. After interviewing many candidates, there was a no one who could match the natural talent and brilliant optimistic mind of Lisa McKay. Our young quirky and adorably positive music director was THE person to fill the position. However, she was green as a PD…just as I was as a GM… so I hired the famous CHR Consultant Alan Burns, whose assignment was to train and coach Lisa McKay to learn and execute every single nuance of programming he knew as well as winning in the ratings. He loved the assignment And, what a student she was!. (Like training Michael Phelps). Lisa is one in a million. She had a way of discovering and developing new talent. And there is nothing she would ask her people to do that she, herself, would not do. She was also on-air in PM Drive and not only did Q94 win in a highly competitive market, but also Lisa won in her day part. Together the WRVQ DreamTeam including Sales and Promotions, created what became “The Standard of Excellence” in Richmond Radio for many years to come. (Her amazing team included mornings with Jeff Wicker and Betty Bodine, along with Jason Paige, Billy Surf, Paul Madison, Kirby Carmichael and Mike Biddle.) The on air promotions, music mix, events, and unique features Lisa created for our sales department to sell and execute are legendary to this day.
    With Lisa leading the way, we climbed back to the top of the market! Lisa possessed “business sense” coupled with a work ethic and zany creativity that is unmatched in my 35 year career. She held the best defining traits of winning coaches and directors–the discipline and killer instincts of a Pat Summit or Nick Saban, coupled with the unstoppable creativity and eye for detail of a Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. Nothing was “ordinary.” Everything she did was Extraordinary. She completely “got it” that sales had to be her partner and always kept our clients’ needs in mind. I have NEVER heard Lisa say anything resembling: “Oh no, not that again,” or “Let’s just run some promos and do what we did last year.”
    She got that the Radio Business is Show Business. That we needed a new attraction every time. She was also SO smart! (UVA Grad) and mastered how to create and manage the programming department budget. She owned it. Took full responsibility. I could write a book on the unbelievable things Lisa did at Q94 that put us back on top. So many! (and this post is long enough already, right?)
    We even survived Y2K together, and as part of making it even bigger than it already was, she arranged to send her on air staff to all parts of the world in different time zones to ring in Y2K–from Moscow to Sydney to NYC, our jocks reported “Live” that the world had not come to an end! Talk about “theater of the mind!”
    Lisa may have thought of me as her mentor, but I am the one who depended on her brilliant advice and guidance in every way you can imagine. With her optimistic yet pragmatic viewpoint, no matter the circumstance, she never dwelled on a problem, but looked at it as another opportunity to create a new solution.
    I recently texted her about a personal problem, and her reply not only pumped me up, she finished her text by asking me what my “short term and long term goals” were. If you know her, you know that describes Lisa to a T! I smile when I think of those words. And, I cry when I ponder the tragic turn of events in her life. It’s hard for me to imagine a world without Lisa McKay in it.
    Tributes will continue and they should. But please! Nominate her for the Country Music Hall of Fame, and please Radio Ink, put her face on your cover! No one in our industry deserves to be a symbol of excellence more than Lisa McKay.
    Her contributions to causes and people and to our industry as a whole are mind boggling. If you’ve read this far, there’s just one more thing: Do you want to be great? Be like Lisa.

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