There is a prevailing myth that a liberal arts degree won’t confer the job skills that will launch a career. Maybe I am unusually lucky, but between my bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communications studies and four years working at the college radio station, WUVA, I found my vocation. I’ve spent the last three decades making a pretty good living doing what I love—successfully running the programming departments at radio stations.

McKay (right) with Alice Cooper.

After four years of college radio, I had no trouble finding a low-paying job in the biz—my first paycheck was $26 dollars. I wanted to frame it, but I wanted to eat more so I cashed it. I worked in Orange and Staunton, Va., and then decided if I was going to be poor, it would be more fun at the beach, so I got a job in Nag’s Head, N.C., where not only did I do nights at Surf 106, I also served dollar breakfasts at the Holiday Inn.

McKay interviews Kenny Chesney.

During the past nine years, I’ve worked my way up to station manager. I’ve also added “salesperson” to my résumé and have billed more than a million dollars for my company, Curtis Media Group. QDR has won Large Market Country Station of the Year as well as other awards, and we are the top biller in North Carolina. In a couple of weeks, I am going to launch another station in Raleigh, and I owe all my success to a flyer on the bulletin board at UVA.

Lisa McKay runs the programming departments at radio stations in Raleigh, N.C.