Corporate Fast Track


Strategy Tips from an Industry-Leading Professional Woman

Advice from an Industry-Leading Professional Woman

Advice from an Industry-Leading Professional Woman

Interview with Mary Beth Garber

Mary Beth Garber was the recipient of America's Best Broadcaster trophy in 2008, a Radio Ink Radio Wayne award from the radio industry’s established authority, Radio Ink Magazine, awarded at the Radio Advertising Bureau Conference in Atlanta last week following a tally of reader and select industry leader votes.  She is President of the Southern California Broadcaster’s Association.

In conversation with Eric Rhoads, Publisher of Radio Ink Magazine, he says that the award is given to the individual who has made the greatest impact on the industry as a whole, and that radio industry representatives attribute Mary Beth Garber's leadership in promoting radio advertising as key to the more than $ 1 billion dollars of radio ad revenue for Southern California last year --a disproportionately high amount for any market in contrast to the rest of the country.  "Her organization leads the framing of how the radio industry adds value in Southern California, and effectively gained the cooperation of competitive stations to convey that message, setting an example for other regions." says Rhoads.

She leads in analyzing the factors that make radio ads appeal to listeners and in conveying how to maximize the use of those factors to capture the attention and interest of both advertisers and sales reps. Her organization found that a radio ads can be highly effective by creating a "virtual neighborhood feel", and shows how to do it.  This has sparked excitement for radio advertising, increased interest in how to apply it, shown sales reps how to help clients better, increased advertiser's results, and increased overall radio ad usage. Question from the Editor, Jean Lewis:  Mary Beth, congratulations! Could you share with us what you think has made your leadership ability effective?

Mary Beth Garber:  Thank you! Strategy. I love strategizing.

w2wlink Question:  When you say strategy, what does that mean to you?

Mary Beth Garber:  Analyzing a situation for opportunity. Planning ahead and being prepared for challenges, and using critical, analytical thinking skills from rhetoric and debate to figure out what needs to be done, and often times on the spot. 

w2wlink Question:  Did you do anything noteworthy in your career to gain industry knowledge on which to base your strategy and increase your ability to lead implementation?

Mary Beth Garber:  I did two things:

1. Started at the bottom and worked my way up in the industry. I was an account executive at what was then a little known of ad agency, Chiat/Day where I wore many hats and thought on my feet. Professional women tend to be wary of challenges they have not taken on before – I say go for it if you know the general area. For example, when I presented the media plan to Japanese executives from Honda to introduce their cars to the US, I was 23. They didn’t understand most of our media system. There was a lot I didn’t know. I am good at communication, so I circled all the shows in our TV guide that their ads would run around, blew that up to be visually large, and presented that. It worked.

2.  Also made lateral career moves when I felt the desire to grow. In a few cases, I went down in both stature and income, like in going from Sr. VP at Interep to VP of Media for Walt Disney Studios, where although the pay was less and the title lower, my visibility and ability to touch any industry increased because in California the entertainment industry has considerable influence.

w2wlink Question:  How about your work-life balance, an important factor in keeping perspective in any meaningful strategic planning endeavor, how have you managed that?

My family is very important to me. I maintained my work-life balance by taking jobs in 100% commission radio ad sales at the times I needed to manage my schedule the most. I was one of only ten women selling local radio ads in the Southern California market at the time. It enabled me to make all of the baseball games, the parent teacher meetings, the assemblies and the performances.

w2wlink Question:  So, for strategy, you advise using analysis techniques from rhetoric and debate to find mutual benefit and opportunity, gaining a broad industry knowledge base from which to draw for accuracy, visibility for smoother implementation, and work-life balance for perspective;  do you have any other advice for our readers?

Mary Beth Garber: Make sure you are waking up excited, passionate and enthusiastic about what you do. Understand what you do well, and always look for new ways to apply your experience and capabilities. Be willing to take a risk on yourself. Be aware of your environment, the elements of your job, your priorities, your assessment of your ability to perform and your rewards. Take stock and change what you can that doesn’t excite you, or maintain perspective of how it fits into your bigger picture. Stay adaptable and keep yourself open to new options to grow. 

w2wlink: Thank you very much.

Mary Beth Garber:  Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with other professional women.

                                                                                            * * *

I met Mary Beth Garber at an Advertising Club of Los Angeles Conference almost ten years ago. When I contacted her recently to invite her to do this interview, she said "Yes, wonderful timing!" Tremendous leader and one of the most genuinely interested in helping others whom I have ever met.

To read more about Mary Beth Garber see, and to learn more about the radio industry and their awards see  She is a graduate of the Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges, .

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About the Author

Jean Lewis

Jean Lewis, 

has edited and written for consumer Web sites and publications reaching nearly 50 million people. Her credits include writing and editing online and print articles, sales and training materials, marketing collateral, and advertising and PR for conusmer companies including BeautiControl, a Tupperware subsidiary's publications to women ages 20s through 50s, the WHO Foundation, Women Helping Others, MCG Magazine, Los Angeles and Seasonal Living Guide for Sam’s Club, a retailing subsidiary of Wal-Mart. Her career also includes working and living in Canada and Japan. Jean is well regarded for her market-research based approach to managing story development enabling consistently original, relevant and timely content.

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