Christie Taylor, Host of “Love Songs” on 103.5 WRBO in Memphis, TN.

Editor's Note:  Christie Taylor has one or two things to say about working 30+ years in the radio industry.   Her story is an old fashioned one-- she's worked hard, EXCEPTIONALLY hard, in whatever position and capacity necessary to make her "dream job" come true.  She has advice that only a seasoned pro could give-- how to find work in a desolate market, what to do when you're being compensated unfairly, how to strategically take a step back in order to reevaluate your path entirely, and also how to keep your priorities in check.  In an age where instant gratification is the norm, Christie's story grounds us-- reminding us that good {really good!} things are worth the time, the wait, and the perseverance.

Christie Taylor Online: In My #RadioGyrl Flow / Courtesy Of JaiCarol and Co

Christie Taylor Online: In My #RadioGyrl Flow / Courtesy Of JaiCarol and Co

{mic check}

Christie Taylor is a 20-plus year radio veteran and current host of “Love Songs”, a six night a week radio show on 103.5 WRBO in Memphis, TN.  Her career is a desirable one for anyone in the field of communications, in fact, Christie is arguably at the top of her game.

Her path to success was a labor of love and a willingness to work in whatever capacity necessary to achieve her goal of ‘getting behind the mic’, and her love of radio can be traced back to elementary school.

“As a child I’d sit in class, listening to the narrator during a projection on screen {now that really ages me, ha!} and I just remember being mesmerized. Oftentimes I’d miss the subject matter altogether because I was so transfixed with the voice.”

Christie moved from DC to Memphis at the age of seven, which exposed her to a world of soul music on historic urban radio stations in the Mid-South region.

“Memphis is an AMAZING radio market.  It’s truly one of those old-school radio cities, a plethora of formats and genres, and I think I just knew from very early on that I wanted to be in radio.”

Millington Central High School Concert Choir + First Soprano: Hit The High Note (front, far right) / Photo Courtesy Of MCHS Archive

Millington Central High School Concert Choir + First Soprano: Hit The High Note (front, far right) / Photo Courtesy Of MCHS Archive

{blind faith}

In high school, Christie ventured beyond her gospel music and expanded her musical repertoire, adding classical singing to her list of passions.  She sang at church, in concert choir and even ventured into high musical theatre; so devoted to her art that after graduating from Millington Central High School she pursued it in college at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Oral Roberts University has an amazing program, and they were grooming us to be classical singers, and I eventually decided I wanted to be more Aretha Franklin than Leontyne Price. I continued in music with the University’s touring gospel choir and group, Souls A’Fire -- we recorded an album in 1985.”

Christie decided to switch her major from vocal performance to evangelism to undeclared, feeling admittedly lost and turning to her faith for guidance.

“I asked God, ‘What is my purpose? What I am here for?’ and in my 17 or 18-year-old mind I remember praying and getting a very clear message that I should pursue radio. I promptly declared Communications with an emphasis in Radio/TV/Film and I loved it. My first radio gig was evening radio host on our local campus radio station, KORU.”

Dream Delayed: Challenge of the Talented / Photo Courtesy Of JaiCarol and Co

Dream Delayed: Challenge of the Talented / Photo Courtesy Of JaiCarol and Co

{hustler}

Distracted by the allurement of music, Christie dropped out of college and headed to Detroit to hang out with college friends who were national recording artists.  The grind of studio life was lackluster, incentivizing Christie to look for opportunities outside her squad.  Through a stroke of luck, she landed a position at one of the top urban stations in the city.

“I took a job at a station doing secretarial work, and from time to time was given opportunities to voice commercials. I longed to get back on the mic. My manager told me Detroit was a top market, and that if I wanted to make a career out of this, I had to do what everyone else does, and that was work my way up from a smaller market.”

She moved back down to Memphis, applying to every station in the city. While one station’s general manager expressed interest, her resume still ended up in the trash; but by a twist of fate, the program director at the station ended up pulling it out of the bin and calling Christie. 

“He asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’ I told him that I wanted to be on the mic, I wanted to be on-air.  I’ll do ten other jobs, I’ll clean bathrooms, I’ll type letters, just let me in the building and give me an opportunity on the mic.  And he did!”

#RadioGyrl: For the Love of Radio / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

#RadioGyrl: For the Love of Radio / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

{ebb and flow}

Staying true to her word, Christie held an array of jobs at the station, but was later crushed when the station went under due to the owner’s financial troubles. 

“After two years, the first station, which was privately owned, started having financial troubles.  Checks started bouncing, then I bounced!  It took me out of the mix for six years.  I had to take jobs with stable incomes, as a secretary, etc., because the money was clearly not reliable in radio.”

Six years later, the corporate giant Clear Channel had come into the market and bought up several radio properties. Luckily for her, one of her colleagues from the defunct station called her when he landed a job at a fairly new AM gospel station. 

“One day he called me and told me a radio slot had opened when a radio jock moved away and asked if I was interested.  I told him that I was, as long as it was on weekends, because I didn’t want to give up my regular paying job.”

Christie’s new Sunday morning gospel show allowed her to break into the Memphis market in a big way…with double digit ratings.

Community Involvement and Relationship Building is Paramount / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

Community Involvement and Relationship Building is Paramount / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

{the it factor}

It wasn’t long before the station learned that Christie’s talents should be tapped for more than just the early morning weekend shift.  Once word got out that Christie had a plethora of experience, they asked her to start filling in during the week, this time as sales support.

“Once again, I was working two different jobs for the same company, but it worked to my advantage because it allowed me to get into the building during the week.  When the top General Manager got wind of my hunger, he stepped in and guided my on-air career.”

Within three years, Christie went from hosting a weekend AM gospel show, to hosting a Sunday morning gospel show on the Urban AC station and producing the hit Tom Joyner Morning Show, to being a part of the Clear Channel launch of the 24-hour FM gospel format as the afternoon drive personality.

“No other female in the market was doing the afternoon drive, and I just slayed!  I was a ratings and revenue generating chick, but I have to admit, I was still that young girl, just enamored to be on the mic and having the opportunity to do this work.”

Film Life: Director’s Assistant and Actress On Set of Film I Co-Wrote “N-Secure” / Photo Courtesy CBTaylor

Film Life: Director’s Assistant and Actress On Set of Film I Co-Wrote “N-Secure” / Photo Courtesy CBTaylor

{crossroads}

Fast forward ten, yes TEN years, Christie was now almost forty, facing a crossroads.  Feeling burnt out from the market and also feeling as though she was not compensated appropriately compared to her male counterparts, Christie decided it was time to make a life change.

“While I was a ratings giant, I felt like I was being disrespected when my earnings did not match my hard work. I knew it was the time to either pursue a job in radio in a top ten market where I would be paid accordingly, or pursue a longstanding dream of mine, screenwriting.”

In 2008, she made her decision.  A top gospel station in Atlanta offered her a position, and at the same time a film project she had co-written years earlier started coming together.  By the summer, it was clear, she would pursue her dream of writing movies.  

“After the movie project came together, I opted to leave radio.  The following year, I returned to Oral Roberts University to complete my missing credits, and by 2012, moved to Los Angeles to work on my Masters of Fine Arts in Professional Screenwriting.  My life has truly just been made of these serendipitous moments of faith, hard work, and determination.” 

Microphone Check: One Two One Two. Yes, It’s Hot! / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

Microphone Check: One Two One Two. Yes, It’s Hot! / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

{rock the mic}

Nearing the completion of her Masters, Christie moved back to Memphis to be closer to her aging mother. She dabbled with the idea of getting back into radio but wasn’t set on it. In the interim, she created a consultant service, The Script Polishers, and an introductory writing program, Flip the Script.

“As luck would have it, in a market where no one EVER leaves, a vacancy at one of the Urban AC stations for an evening host for the Love Songs show opened when the personality moved on to local TV news.”

That was a year ago, and Christie has been rocking the mic ever since.  She hosts Love Songs on 103.5 WRBO six nights a week, from Sunday to Friday.

When the local Memphis community heard that THEIR Christie Taylor was back on the radio, they called in droves, telling her on-air how glad they were that she was back home.

“I had no idea how much currency I built from my decade with the other radio stations!  I have so much love in Memphis, and I must confess it feels good to be back on the mic. My life’s journey has always brought me back to radio.  I’ve found that when I’m most at peace within myself, radio finds me.”

Headshot + #RadioGyrl: All About That Studio Life / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

Headshot + #RadioGyrl: All About That Studio Life / Photo Courtesy Of CBTaylor

{DRIVEN q&a}

You told me that at the end of the day, your goal is to be a better servant and give-back.  How have you found ways to do this in your career and outside of your career?

“Within my career, I have provided training for radio station interns as well as volunteered in schools for career days, reading days, and given commencement speeches for elementary school programs.  My most notable achievement was adopting a school where I would tutor at least twice a month 2nd and 3rd graders having trouble with classwork.  Outside my career, I started a cultural arts/historical society organization, and served as AmeriCorp Vista tutor, Memphis Child Advocacy Center donor and volunteer, and conducted my Living LIFE seminar program in community centers, non-profit organizations, and in women prisons.”

You have this infectious confidence when talking about your career, even when you were working, as you put it, ‘ten jobs at once’!  What’s your advice on finding inner-confidence in the workplace when you’re working your way from the bottom up? 

“My advice is find your core, your personal passion that makes you feel alive and remain true to it.”

Careers in media, television, radio, etc. oftentimes require working up the ranks through small markets.  What type of woman do you think it takes to be willing to go down this path and be successful at it?

“It takes a woman willing to believe in and stake everything on her innate abilities and dreams; and is unwilling to live by the dictates of others.  You cannot be a risk taker in life and live by committee.” 

Ten years into your career you felt like you were hitting the glass ceiling.  If given the opportunity, what advice would you have given your younger self about this time in your life?  

“I would have advised my younger self to always retain the excitement of the job yet get a contract in place early.  I would have advised my younger self to not be afraid to ruffle feathers to get paid equally.”

You have never been married or had kids.  Was this an intentional decision?

“As a church girl, the thought was I’d marry (possibly a preacher) and have five children.  So I will say no, I did not set out to not do family life, but I admit I have intentionally chosen myself and dreams over and over again when opportunities presented themselves.  As a result of my choices, I have had to be quite intentional throughout the years to foster love and relationships that fill the void while remaining true to my need for personal expression and freedom.”

You’re at a great point in your career.  Is there is anything you would have done differently? 

“I’m at a great point in life.  I’m grateful.  I just turned 50 and I can own my personal life decisions, good or bad, without regrets now.  So, I can’t say I would have done anything differently because even my mess ups lead to other interesting (sometimes painful) yet always self-enlightening adventures.  Okay … I’m lying.  I would have focused on money more. LOL.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? 

“The best life advice was from my high school choir teacher, written in my memory book …  in essence, ‘If I don’t get it right the first time, don’t be afraid (ashamed) to try it a different way’.  Best professional advice was about networking -- always ask, the least or greatest person, if there is an opportunity to be of service to them or their cause.   Both have served me very well in life and career.”

To hear Christie on-air, head over to WRBO by clicking here.

To visit Christie’s personal website, click here.

You can also follow Christie on Facebook, by clicking here.

 

Next week, meet Stephanie.  She's plans gorgeous weddings and events in the community of Newport, Rhode Island. Her career is swoon-worthy, but what's even more impressive is how she took her skills and expanded them into a non-profit benefiting children who have to spend their birthday in the hospital.  Her story of ingenuity is up next, on DRIVEN for Women!

 

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