Photos/Courtesy of Photos | Catherine Rainey
University of South Alabama Director of Media Heather Stanley is among the speakers of the 2018 Focus Women’s Conference on Oct. 19.
By Catherine Rainey
When it came to deciding which career path to take, Heather Stanley knew exactly where she was headed. At the age of 14, she already had a gig in radio, which eventually led to spreading her knowledge of media through teaching. But let’s start with where she began.
“I was 8 years old,” she fondly mused. “I used to listen to the late, great WABB when I was growing up. I would hear people on the air, and I remember thinking that when I get big, which was 18 at the time, I was going to be on the radio.”
Like any other child with big ideas, she changed her mind a few times along the way, varying from astronaut to ballerina. Eventually, her original dream of making it in the broadcast world became a reality.
“I just fell into it,” Stanley admitted. “I started working at WBHY [Power 88 FM in Mobile], helping out at concerts, voiced a couple of things on-air, and then I had my own show by the age of 16!”
From there she went to work for what is now iHeartMedia, formerly Clear Channel Communications. She later found herself at a classic country radio station, where she met her husband, Steve Stanley. Steve’s background also includes a plethora of broadcasting and media positions.
The country station covered NASCAR, and Heather Stanley was the one chosen to talk about it on the radio after the race. But, funnily enough, she had no knowledge of the sport. Thankfully, her parents were enthusiasts.
“I would call my mom and dad after the race, and say ‘Jeff Gordon won, but what does that mean and how do I say this in NASCAR speak?’” she recalled. “I would then write down my breaks, and after I was on-air, people would call in and want to talk about NASCAR but I didn’t have any idea of what was going on.”
Soon, her radio life led her to working for a couple of other stations, as being stagnant in media is rarely the case for the ambitious. Stanley went from Lite Mix 99.9 to a Cumulus Broadcasting station in Pensacola, 100.7, where she worked promotions, marketing and middays on-air. Her last position in radio was at WABB in 2003; it appeared she had finally come full circle. Now was time for a change.
“I was the ripe old age of 23 when I unofficially retired,” she chuckled. “I started going back to school, got my bachelor’s and then my master’s.”
While in her studies at the University of South Alabama, she met Matt McCoy, a well-known name in the local broadcasting world. He was teaching a radio class, but soon got offered a job at a nearby station.
Stanley was eventually offered the open position, where she began training students to make it in the media world outside of school. At the time she started teaching radio, the station at South dubbed “Jag Radio” was strictly an online format run out of an equipment closet known as The Bunker. She wanted to make it an actual radio station and knew exactly what needed to be done.
“I took it and applied for a FCC license. ‘The Prowl’ launched as 97.1 in 2016. We are about to come up on our two-year anniversary!”
Stanley was adviser for the station for a couple years until South promoted her to director of media, which encompasses all areas of media at USA: The Vanguard newspaper, “Due South” magazine, Jag TV and WJGR 97.1 “The Prowl.” She essentially oversees each avenue.
“This job helps me go above and beyond, and there’s never a boring day,” she said. “I get to do student development things, media things, administrative things, a lot of marketing and PR, social media. I get to do a little bit of everything. My day is never the same twice.”
Stanley said she never planned to return to radio after leaving WABB, but it seemed impossible to resist its call. And why should she? From influencing young hopefuls with stars in their eyes, to encouraging studious individuals to always reach higher, she emulates what an influencer should be.
Media and teaching aren’t her only interests, however. She’s become a budding fashionista as well. From blogging about style, aging and women’s issues to her Instagram account featuring attractive yet affordable ensembles, she has been making waves since 2014 as “The Frugal Fashionista.”
“I never intended for it to blow up,” she admitted. “I’m an actual brand influencer now. Companies like L’Oreal and Maybelline have called on me. But my focus is on body-positive blogging, which is where my niche is.”
On this platform, Stanley is helping in another way. When asked what it feels like to create such an impact, not only on current and former students but as an internet influencer as well, she had this to say:
“It’s very strange. There was a time when I was walking in the salon where I get my hair done; people started asking for my haircut. The media side of me was like, this is awesome, but I was also a little surprised. I was bullied when younger, and it’s strange suddenly being someone others wanted to emulate.”
You can see Stanley on her site, frugalfashionistamag.com, take a media class, join the radio crew at South or attend the upcoming Focus Women’s Conference, where she will be speaking Oct. 19 on “The F Word: Why Feminism Isn’t a Dirty Word.” Details and tickets are available at focuswomensconference.com.
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