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  • Matt Cundill

Karen Steele: Radio's Woman of Steel

Updated: Dec 11, 2019



Karen Steele is the new Program Director at 99.9 Virgin Radio in Toronto. She has worked in radio for over two decades and in this episode, she walks us through her impressive career, from small markets to big ones, from radio to film and back to radio again. She even throws out a couple dollops of advice along the way, so stay tuned, this one's a keeper!

Over two decades of hard work, running compelling campaigns all the way along, Karen climbed the ladder from intern, to assistant program director, to director of promotions. She worked with all the biggies, from Corus Entertainment, to Standard Broadcasting, to Astral Media, to Rogers, and now to Bell. She tells us about staying, moving, and the experience of being let go, rehired, and rolling on and bouncing back.

Speaking to the loss of social currency that comes with a career shift, to soul searching, and hustling for the next opportunity, Karen provides some seriously candid gems about her experience in the industry. She even tells us about what led her to return to radio following her work as the National Director of Publicity & Promotions at Warner Brothers Pictures Canada.

This episode also includes some nostalgic reflections about her start as an intern working in a little station in St. Catherine's called 97.7 HTZ-FM, the legendary White House of Rock. She describes the irreverent "balls to the walls" boundary-pushing comedy and talent, where fun was the DNA of the station. She now spends more time contemplating synergies that support thinking beyond one, two, or three stations to an entire brand (i.e. Virgin Radio). As a Programming Director, she thinks about how to pivot and adapt to ensure her stations are providing the content the listeners consumer that makes it accessible to the listener.

Mentioned in this episode are talented radio professionals:

JJ Johnston, Blair Bartrem, Eric Samuels, Bob Harris, and on-air talent, like Roz & Mocha, Tucker & Maura, Andrea Collins, Cash & Rae.

About Karen Steele: Karen graduated with honours from Niagara College. She was awarded three Applied Arts Faculty Awards, and has received two Awards for Broadcast Journalism and the CCBA Award for Creative. She has worked in promotions, marketing and programming in St. Catherines, Toronto, Kitchener, and is now back in Toronto. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


Audiences are not what they used to be. There is more choice, more fragmentation and pretty much more of everything than ever before. Traditional ways of thinking are being challenged. New platforms and technologies are emerging and merging, and buckets of data are being produced. How do you go beyond the data to something you can actually use? How do you make sense of it all? How do you get out of the weeds to focus on the big picture? Well, NLOGIC, the sponsors of this podcast, can help. They offer strategic insights, customizable modern products, market perspectives and their personal commitment to help you make sense of your Canadian radio and television audiences. ultimately, they can help you grow your business. Talk to NLogic today and be better positioned for tomorrow.


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