Megan Harper on The Power of Relationships & Persistence
What were you doing at 9-years old? Many of us can’t remember. But Megan Harper, definitely can. She was busy falling in love with radio. Growing up in Chicago, she called the radio station so much that soon enough the radio host knew who she was whenever she called.
And her calls were not in vain. Her persistence and curiosity lead her to opportunities that many in the radio industry who have loved to have at such a young age. While in college, she always had her mind on her career. She spent her summers interning at major radio stations such as Radio One’s 97.9 The Box, KRBE 104.1 with Roula & Ryan Morning Show and iHeartMedia’s 93.7 The Beat.
Over the years, Megan has certainly mastered the power of relationships and hard work. Learn more about Megan’s journey and the importance of mentorship in our transparent interview below.
What experiences helped shape the woman you are today?
My family and moving around when I was young molded me to become who I am today. Both influenced me to be agile, taught me not be afraid of change, and pushed me to be a go getter. As a child growing up on the Southside of Chicago with both of my parents was a blessing. I remember my mom being such a hard worker; I mean she was either at work or at school. Somehow, she still managed a way to attend all my dance and piano recitals.
After she graduated and obtained her MBA, she told me we were moving. We were actually leaving the city and moving to the suburbs. I could never imagine leaving my block (79th & Pulaski). It was all I knew, where everybody knew everybody. We moved to the South Suburbs and were only there for a year, I was in seventh grade attending Huth Middle School at the time. Growing up in the city, I had never seen schools separate grades 6-8. It was all one school. At least in the city, the 4th and 5th graders were in the same building as 6th-8th. After that, my mom was offered a job that caused us to move to Winston Salem, North Carolina, where I completed 7th through 10th grade. I even had my sweet sixteen in North Carolina, where radio personality/family friend B-Daht from 102 Jamz hosted and brought Chris Paul. I’ll never forget, because that was a total surprise for me! Chris brought some basketball friends, and that was the same night his son was born. It was literally the best night ever; all my friends were mainly in N.C. from middle school and high school. It was over 200 people in attendance and we raised money for a good cause!
After that, my family and I relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, where my mother was also offered a job. It was the strangest experience I’ve ever had in life. Moments I’ll never forget. When we first moved to Missouri, we were one of the few black families in the neighborhood in Eureka, MO. People that attended my high school assume I lived in the city because I was black, and they would say things like they “bus” the “city kids” into Eureka to attend my high school. The “city kids” was code for the black kids. Oh, and not to mention the first week my family and I lived in that house, someone threw eggs in our drive way. Living in Missouri I was forced to face racial issues like no other.
While growing up, moving so many times taught me how to have thick skin, and how to adapt in any environment on my own. With that I decided after graduating high school to attend Prairie View A&M University, 45 minutes outside of Houston, TX. It was just like all the other moves: nerve wrecking. I was, once again, the new girl or the girl from Chicago (which I held that title for a long time), and just careful with meeting new people, and open to new possibilities that change brings. It’s just that. Life is all about energy and choices; the rest is up to you.
I couldn’t agree more. That sounds like quite the childhood story. Growing up did you experience any insecurities?
One insecurity I experienced growing up, was trusting in relationships. Moving I am sure contributed to that, and meeting new people so frequently. I’m a friendly person – but truly opening up takes time that has to be earned. As a young professional, I would say also just building my career and grinding. But I look at that as working hard, putting in the effort and having faith, versus being insecure about it.
What are some steps you took to get to where you are in your career?
I fell in love with radio when I was 9 years old, living in Chicago, listening to Power 92 with Trey Da Choklit Jok. I’m laughing as I’m answering this question because I used to call the station every single night, whether it was trying to request a song, win a prize, or just to talk to Trey.
It got to a point where he knew it was me when I called. Then one day Trey started letting me come to the station to shadow him while working, I knew everyone in the studio. I remember when Rocsi (from 106 & Park) was even working there.
I used to record myself on my tape recorder as if I had a radio show in my room. I would have my parents call the line in my room from their cell phones and everything.
Trey would take me on street team events, my parents would take turns dropping me off and picking me up from the radio station. I remember one year on my birthday, Omarion was there and I lost it, I was his number one fan. I had the air brush shirt and jeans with his name and face all over it.
Fast forward 10+ years, Trey is still one of my best mentors and advocates today. In N.C., that mentor was and still is B-Daht. He was straight up like the crazy big brother that was eager to see me win, he had me recording an air check when I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, and I was 14 or 15 years old. He had me in those triad (Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham) streets and I got to watch the promotions team work. B-Daht would walk me around the station introducing me to the Morning Show cast, Program Director, and sales department. He never handled me like an intern, or a beginner, and never slowly showed me things. He literally threw me right in and when I felt like I was drowning he would help me. Still to this day, he helps me and gives me his honest opinion. I would career shadow with him while he was on the morning show with Santillian on 102 Jamz.
Then when I went off to college, I interned at a radio station every summer, that was the goal going into my freshmen year: to intern every summer, network, build relationships and learn every aspect of the field. My freshmen year I interned at Radio One 97.9 The Box. Sophomore Year, I interned at KRBE 104.1 with Roula & Ryan Morning Show. Junior and Senior Year, I interned at iHeartMedia 93.7 The Beat with Radio/TV Personality DeviDev who is also one of my mentors.
The steps as you can tell was to intern, learn, and grow through experiences! It’s not always about who you know. It’s about who knows your experiences, what you can bring to the table, how fast you can learn and work in a fast-paced environment. You shouldn’t mix business with emotions or personal. This radio business isn’t easy and isn’t for everyone, and trust me only the strong survive!
What advice can you give to our readers?
Some advice that I would like to give to girls with the same career path would be to remain true to yourself, always stay focused on the goal. Remember that it’s through the tough times and biggest challenges, that make for the amazing results and story to tell at the end of the day. Keep pushing forward even when things don’t make sense, and continuously be aware of the company you keep because they bring energy to your environment. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself and pat yourself on the back and that’s ok! Lastly, if it’s your passion and all you think about when you wake up and go to sleep, then never take no for an answer! #AmenSaints.
That’s great advice. What are some things we can expect from you in the future?
After graduating August 2015, I moved forward from interning at iHeartMedia to working in promotions. I later received an amazing opportunity to be a producer/board operator for the syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club. After college, and those incredible early career experiences in Houston, I decided to pursue my career and education in another market. Recently, I relocated to Atlanta to work on my brand @harperspeaks and I’m planning to pursue graduate school. The goal is still radio, digital/media, public speaking, and community involvement always. New beginnings are always fun and challenging, but you can only grow from them. That’s the joy of it!
To learn more about Megan, follow her on Instagram @HarperSpeaks.