University of Mary - Bachelor of Science in Communications + Bachelor of Arts in English
Stacy Strum will know she’s “made it” the day she dances “on the arm of Maksim Chmerkovskiy in a costume that would make strippers blush.” Not only does this perfectly capture the humor Stacy finds is so necessary in a successful radio host, but also the persistence and drive that keeps her striving for more.
After noticing that listeners were tiring of the typical, repetitive format in conventional radio, Stacy embraced the changing face of radio and created her own station. She went online where, nearly four years ago, URL Radio was born. And now as a radio personality and business owner, Stacy has come to expect the unexpected. In a job that's constantly evolving, she contributes a sense of adventure — rather than setting goals — to her continued success. As Stacy puts it, “I feel like if I set goals for myself, I limit myself."
Once you've established yourself and can pay the bills and yourself, it will be the most gratifying thing you'll ever do.
So, you own your own Internet radio station, which is very interesting … and fun! Tell us, how did this job come about?
I worked in traditional radio for more than 15 years and saw things were not going great. They had cut our workforce by 60 percent. They were losing listeners to satellite radio, Internet radio or iPods. They weren't giving listeners what they wanted -- local personalities, interaction, more than 10 different songs in rotation and digital content on an as-needed or wanted basis. Looking toward the future I saw radio wasn't going to die; just change. So I jumped on the trend. Almost four years ago, I took my terrestrial experience to provide an "out of this world" listening experience people had been missing.
What does your typical job schedule and day look like? Does that change at any point during the year?
I get up at 5:30 a.m. and get to work around 6:30 a.m. As soon as I get in I make coffee, then sit back and enjoy the ride.
It sounds cliché, but I always expect the unexpected. I do the morning show with an interesting cast of characters. My staff consists of a Middle Eastern atheist punk rocker; a quirky IT genius known only as Red Sneaker; a music and trivia freak who also happens to be a 7'0" tall freak of nature; a feng shui master and colorist; a sales gal who used to work at Hooters and also works in an adult products store; a very fun and flamboyant gay friend that occasionally pops in; a folk musician who's also involved with an independent newspaper; and two musicians who used to be in a rock band with a national recording contract, but are even more high maintenance than most of my female staff.
I love the crazy people I deal with as an employer and also a radio station owner. I've always thought we'd blow all other reality TV shows out of the water. I just can't find an agent who wants to tackle that!
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
I don't think I've had that yet. I've done some seriously cool things and met some seriously cool celebrities, but my only goal is to be on "Dancing With The Stars." Which means you have to be a star (in most cases). So I need to figure out how to get there. Maybe our crazy reality show will get me there? Once I walk down those stairs on the arm of Maksim Chmerkovskiy in a costume that would make strippers blush ... I'll know I've made it.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I'm always trying to think about how I'll grow our business, advertising base, listeners, Facebook fans and Twitter base. It's never-ending. Everything is a marketing opportunity waiting to happen and an untapped advertiser or resource or show content. I can't shut it off.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Yes. I do find since I'm always thinking, I'm always working. But on the positive side, as a business owner, I have flexibility with my schedule. My kids come to the station after school. If I don't want to work the weekends, I don't. If I have to be off to drive for a field trip, I can take it off. If the kids are sick, I can work from home and NOT have to take sick days or vacation. It's a freedom I rarely use, but it's there.
I think no matter what though, women in general, will always struggle with a balance as long as we work. We still have to do everything our moms had to do or other stay-at-home moms have to do: cook, clean the house, run errands, do the laundry, shuttle the kids around, be a wife to our husbands, help with school projects, volunteer for community projects AND work a 40- to 50-hour week, serve on a Board of Directors ... It's impossible when you try to have it all.
What are some of the rules you live by?
1. I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees.
2. Live like today is your last day.
3. I'd rather have people hate me for who I am, than like me for who I am not.
4. Don't get so caught up in planning the future that you don't enjoy today.
5. “Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.” -Bernard M. Baruch
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful as a radio entrepreneur?
Persistence, thick skin, creativity, drive, a sense of humor, sense of adventure, self-loathing and a big set of balls.
What advice do you have for women who aspire to walk in your shoes?
Making your mark on this industry, as an independent owner and a woman, will be the toughest thing you ever do. Prepare for it. Have a passion for it, because that will be the one thing that keeps you going. But once you've established yourself and can pay the bills and yourself, it will be the most gratifying thing you'll ever do. The work environment and creativity you're surrounded by, as well as the cornerstone you become in your community and celebrity you develop, cannot be replaced by money or stability or a "normal schedule." I've seen lots of people leave this industry to make more money and they always regret it. What price can you put on your dream?
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I get that question all the time and it's harder to answer than any algebra question, scientific hypothesis or one of those "a train is traveling ... " questions. I honestly don't know. I feel like if I set goals for myself, I may be limiting myself. I think there's something very special in store for me and I'm excited to see what it is. I think it will surpass any of my expectations.
If you could have anyone's job, whose job would you want?
Ellen DeGeneres. Love her. Love her show. Love her time slot. Love the opportunities it allows her. Love the money it makes her and the connections it gives her. Love her ability to be weird and wacky and wave that freak flag. I want HER job.