Social Influencer Series | Founder, Creator, President, Candy O'Terry
It was hard to define in title this month's social influencer, Candy O'Terry. She is the Co-Founder and President of Boston Women Media & Entertainment. She is the creator of the Story Behind Her Success podcast. She's a singer. She's a songwriter. She's broadcast professional and host.
I think the most appropriate title would be: Candy O'Terry, Exceptional Woman
Candy and I met when she was working at Magic 106.7 and was the founder and host of an aptly titled series that celebrated the accomplishments and success of "Exceptional Women". That was the foundation and inspiration for her most recent project - The Story Behind Her Success. The Story Behind Her Success features women from every walk of life, plus in demand, high profile women in media and entertainment.
Candy and I have deep roots in the Boston media and advertising community, which we can both trace back to Boston College. I caught up with her recently and here is a snapshot of what she had to share:
The Story Behind Her Success is such an important project, especially now. Where did your inspiration come from to launch this project as a podcast?
The hardest part about leaving Magic 106.7 was leaving the Exceptional Women show behind. The weekly 30-minute public affairs program was a labor of love for 23 years and its creation and evolution were what I was most proud of as a broadcaster. It is very rare for that kind of a show to find its place on an FM music station, but it did. Our female listeners loved it. They called me, sent handwritten notes, and endless emails, nominating women for us to profile. There was never a shortage of exceptional women to interview. I knew that I had created something very special…that I’d found lightning in a bottle and I didn’t want to let that go.
I had created a LIVE interview series called The Story Behind Her Success for my organization, Boston Women in Media & Entertainment. Because I owned the name, it was easy to transition the LIVE series to a weekly podcast series which launched on January 3, 2018. The idea behind the show is exactly the same as my Exceptional Women concept: once a week, I put one exceptional woman in the spotlight. The goal is to nurture a conversation and to create an opportunity for women to share their stories: the good, the bad, the roadblocks and the victories.
How does the current climate around #MeToo and #TimesUp impact The Story Behind Her Success?
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are opening up a lot of people’s eyes to situations that have existed in every field for as long as women have been working outside the home. Women from coast to coast are shaking their heads, saying “it’s about time.” I’ve spent my entire career interviewing exceptional women from every walk of life and I’m here to tell you: striving to succeed amidst pay inequality and sexual harassment are typical obstacles they deal with every single day. I believe that successful women THINK differently. You can try to pay them less, sexualize them, belittle them, refuse to give them credit for their ideas, but they will find a way to persevere. It is in their DNA. The key here is that women MUST help women. That’s how we succeed.
As someone with a storied career in traditional media-how have you seen the landscape change over the past decade? What advice would you give a young person following in your footsteps today?
When I was at Magic 106.7, I was on the air 7 days a week, but my primary position was as Assistant Program Director of the radio station. In that capacity, I was privy to our research and ratings performance. I can still remember when satellite radio launched in the late 90’s and the dot com industry exploded in the new millennium. The school of thought was: “let’s keep an eye on this” but the belief was that AC (Adult Contemporary) radio was your constant companion and that listeners would never abandon FREE local radio for satellite options you had to pay for and internet stations with untested music and buffering issues that made them often impossible to listen to. Well, guess what? We were wrong. An entire generation has grown up with a lust for screens and a desire for endless choices. They don’t mind poor fidelity, they don’t care about tightly edited shows, they like real, authentic conversations and they love discovering songs no one else knows about. Don’t get me wrong: I am and always will be a radio girl, but times have changed. The heyday of radio as “the” place to hear that cool, new song, or the latest breaking news is over. If war were to break out somewhere in the world right now, your smartphone would tell you. My guess is that you wouldn’t even THINK of running to the radio.
Given this new media landscape, my advice for young people is to tap into your natural ability to be fearless. In my opinion, this is the most powerful attribute of the Millennial generation. Keep questioning the status quo, say “yes” to ideas that seem off the wall and raise your hand when it’s time to work. That’s the way you discover new things and create opportunities for yourself.
Back in radio at Magic 106.7, you created and were the face and voice of the Exceptional Women brand. That was a traditional multi-media platform—leveraging the reach of radio with the internet and an incredible event series. The Story Behind Her Success is the next generation of multi-media—a podcast about exceptional women promoted online and through social media. What has been your approach to building a new audience in social and online?
The biggest asset I had when I launched The Story Behind Her Success podcast series on January 3, 2018 was my name recognition and reputation in this market. I have nurtured a relationship with listeners from the day I did my first airshift in 1991. It has been the secret to my success. Work every shift, even on Christmas, stay on the air during tragedies and national emergencies (the death of Princess Diana, the JFK Jr fatal plane crash, 9/11, the Marathon Bombings, the death of Michael Jackson). When you do these things, when you share the stories of your life, you become more than an announcer, you become a trusted friend. Add to this my goal of celebrating the lives of exceptional women, my devotion to the fight against breast cancer, and my singing career and you’ve got a strong, loyal fan base who will follow you wherever you go.
I began creating The Think Pink Club, which was my fan data base. I launched www.candyoterry.com and released my first full length CD within a month of leaving Magic 106.7, and included a calendar of my events and appearances on my website. I used my maxed out personal page on FB, my new public page and Twitter to interact daily with friends and fans and I stayed connected to the industry through my organization, Boston Women in Media & Entertainment. To this day, I host about 75 events a year, some at no cost, just to stay in the public eye and have a powerful public speaking platform called 16 Life Lessons. This is how you stay top of mind vs becoming a trivia question. I’ve worked too hard and care too much to let that happen. Ever.
When it was time to launch my podcast series, I updated and rebranded my website www.candyoterry.com with expert help from a brilliant designer named Sarah Casasanto. www.sarahcas.com. I connected with Boston radio legend Jordan Rich and Ken Carberry, owners of Chart Productions www.chartproductions.com for advice on the art of podcasting and use of their recording studio. I hired Dan Thibeault, owner of Fast Twitch Media to help me with the back-end of podcasting. https://fasttwitch.wixsite.com/fast. Dan is invaluable to me and is now my Digital Media Manager. I find the women, record the shows and do all of the writing, but Dan does the heavy lifting by shooting and editing videos, editing and uploading the podcasts, migrating the series to all digital platforms and social media strategies. We have a calendar for our FB posts and videos to promote each episode. Just like my old Exceptional Women show, The Story Behind Her Success is a weekly labor of love.
In terms of spreading the word about the podcast, the women I interview are my best advocates. We tag them in our posts, they share our videos and ask their friends to listen to their story when it posts. It’s all about the content. These are inspiring stories and they always find their way to someone’s ears. I see our downloads growing with every episode. So far, so good!
Who has been your favorite interview to date? Top-3?
#3: Lisa Fenn, former ESPN producer and author of Carry On about 2 high school wrestlers from Cleveland who become a part of her family. One is blind and the other has no legs. The blind wrestler carries the boy with no legs who is his eyes to the world. Amazing.
#2: Erin Brockovich! Yes, the REAL Erin Brockovich. Her episode posts March 28, 2018
#1: Mariah Carey: She was 4 hours late for our Exceptional Women interview at the Four Seasons back in 2001, but completely authentic and unforgettable.
Celebratory Cocktail: Absolute & club soda with a lemon
Proudest Accomplishment: Raising Christopher & Colleen as a single mom
Go to Social Channel: Facebook, Twitter
Most Exceptional Woman? Wendy Booker: climbed all 7 of the world’s tallest peaks with MS.
Inspirational hashtag: #storybehindhersuccess
Mark Keaney is the Director of Sales for the Northeast @Sprinklr - the world's most complete customer experience management platform for the enterprise. Sprinklr helps the world's largest brands do marketing, advertising, customer care, sales, research and commerce on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and twenty-one other social channels globally, all on one integrated platform.
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