Women To Watch: Katelyn Maida, 93Q Country

(By Charese Fruge’) Katelyn Maida is currently part of Mornings with Riggs, Katelyn, and Erica at Urban One Houston’s 93Q Country (KKBQ). Along with co-hosting, gathering content, creating the daily show rundown, and representing the show all over the city, she also hosts weekend mornings.

It all started for Katelyn in the halls of KKBQ, back when she was an intern studying at the University of Houston. “I grew up listening to this station and when I decided to get into broadcasting, I already knew that there was nowhere else I would rather make my mark than here,” she says.

“I’ll never forget my first interview with Christi Brooks, an icon and longtime fixture at the station. I wore business professional dress for the interview which is comical to look back on now because, on the programming side of radio, we do not dress business professional. I was so nervous that I could feel sweat dripping down the inside of my dress. I then interviewed with another icon in our industry, Johnny Chiang, who had a long-running and incredibly successful reign at KKBQ.”

“Both Johnny and Christi were the reason behind the success at 93Q during that era and I just could not allow myself to blow it. Christi called me that afternoon to offer me the internship and I cried when I hung up. I knew breaking into the industry was hard, but now I had my foot in the door. They both quickly became my mentors who still advise me to this day. They armed me with the most important structure to excel in this industry, gave me my first real job in radio, and then granted me the ‘you can’t pass this up’ when another opportunity came knocking a few years later.”

“JR Schumann made that call at the time, trusting me in the younger stages of my career to join mornings in Dallas, Texas at the powerhouse heritage country station KSCS. It is not lost on me that this is not an opportunity often given to young women, let alone women in general in this industry. It was a turning point in my career and after 6 years of incredible success with an award-winning team at KSCS I got the call of a lifetime.”

“Once again it was KKBQ and Johnny Chiang on the line, inviting me to come home and wake up my hometown on one of country music’s biggest morning shows. I’ve been back here since 2021 and pinch myself every day.”

“I grew up in a home surrounded by music and dancing. My dad always made sure I knew a full range of good music. As a matter of fact, dad is still a music junky who calls me at 82 years old to tell me about the new talent he’s found while scrolling his TikTok account. We are taking him at the end of April to see the Rolling Stones when they come to town.”

“Music always filled our family home with joy and dancing so it’s no shock that I felt the need to follow the music wherever it would take me. I couldn’t sing or play an instrument, but I did have the gift of the gab.. another trait I got from Pops. He can talk to the wall and make friends with any stranger. I am very much his daughter. When I realized that I could combine my love of entertainment and music with the gift of conversation, I made a career in radio my ultimate goal.”

“I went to college at the University of Houston, and it was there that I was able to use their internship program to attain a double internship at Houston’s Cox Media Group. I quit my college job at an elementary school and devoted 100% of my time to my craft with that double internship, studying under my mentors Johnny Chiang and Christi Brooks. They gave me my first big break when I was hired to join the company after I completed my internship and graduated. The rest is history!”

“Luckily, my first real job in this industry was heavily focused on social media. I even went by the moniker ‘Connected K’ for years because of my relationship with social and digital. I took on the role of an ‘online DJ’ where the relationship between what happened on the air and what happened online felt seamless. Looking back, I was essentially an ‘influencer’ for the station before that term became the norm.”

“These were the early days when radio needed to jump right in or miss the boat on social. It was just as important back then as it is today to let your listeners know you for who you really are. Most of that can be done on the air but let’s be honest… we still have to follow the rules of the FCC. Social is where we need to continue and strengthen that connection with our listeners. People crave genuine connection and if we’re already doing it on the air, we should be able to portray that on social media as well. If people connect with you in one space, they will look for you in every other space. With a strong enough social presence you should be able to loop not only listeners but clients back to the on-air product.”

“There have been a few key moments in my career over the years and honestly, most of them center around sharing the most exciting moments of my life with my listeners on the air,” says Maida.

“We share so much of our lives with them, private and not. They were there when we called my boyfriend at the time, live on the air, to make things Facebook ‘official.’ They were there when I went off to marry that same man a few years later and they were there through the announcement and birth of my first child. We got country artist Lee Brice to join us on the air to share the surprise announcement that our first boy was on the way which fit perfectly with his song ‘Boy’ at the time.”

“Then last month I got the help of another country artist, Parker McCollum, to join me in surprising not only my co-hosts but our listeners with the news of baby number two on the way! So much of our lives are shared with our audience. The vulnerability and humility that is required in our career can sometimes be scary, but not when I get to share life’s most precious moments with them.”

“I also rode a camel down a racetrack one too many times at the local horse racetrack and I’m here to tell you it is easily one of the most exhilarating things you will ever do. Don’t ever pass up the chance.”

“One of my biggest challenges over the years has been my big mouth,” says Maida. “I have such a big mouth y’all, and it speaks with passion. But sometimes it also speaks without thinking which can create a problem for me internally. I have an easy time compartmentalizing that when I’m on the air but once that mic is off, I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and give life time to breathe. I can’t say I’m a pro at it, but as I get older I try to put that at the front of my daily practices. Like many of us in this industry, I also have a tinge of imposter syndrome. Self-reflection of my work and contributions to this industry helps me to feel like I belong but I’d be lying if I denied that sometimes I still look around and think ‘How did I get here?’”

Maida’s thoughts on attracting a younger audience: “Radio seems to have such a tough time with this one when the options seem limitless to those of us that crack the mic and open our social feeds every day,” she says. “Meet them where they are. This means more than just social media. This means meeting them in their spaces. Radio is still cool to the younger fan base no matter what our imposter syndrome tells us.”

“If you walk up to a Gen Z person today and ask them if they want to be on the radio they still excitedly say ‘YES!.’ Radio must not be afraid of being laughed at by a younger fan base. We must stop being afraid of ‘sounding old’ and thinking old and meet the younger fans where they are. Listening to their needs and wants and soaking in what they think is cool instead of telling them what we think they think is cool is vital in that process.”

What keeps Maida up at night? “This is such a fun question,” she says. “Years ago, I would have said my career goals. How I was going to become the next Ryan Seacrest and whatnot. After 10+ years in this industry and now becoming a mother… the focus has shifted. My worries include how will this industry transition for those of us who are still filled with so much passion for it. Who do we have to pass our precious craft down to? What have we left for them and how do we guide them to continue the success of this space? And lastly, are aliens already here on Earth with us?”

For young Women looking to get into the industry, Maida says, “SHOW UP. SHOW UP. KEEP SHOWING UP. The negative side of this industry hopes for the day that you stop showing up. Show up, every time. Above all else, our work will speak for itself. Let your work speak for you. In times when people doubt you or you even doubt yourself, let your work speak for itself. Imposter syndrome is a hell of a drug in this industry. Stay off of it. You deserve a seat at every table, and if the seat isn’t there, become bigger than the chair. Leaders usually stand at the head of the room in meetings anyway. Who needs the dang chair?”

As for what’s ahead in 2024, “I’ll become a mom of two and complete my family goals, says Maida. “This is going to be such a pivotal year for my life because, for the first time ever, I don’t have a plan. How could I? So much has changed and so much opportunity is in front of me. I have accomplished what I used to consider my wildest dreams in this industry and this year I will have accomplished my wildest dreams in my personal life. So, for the first time EVER… I can confidently say that outside of total world domination… I have no plans but to give myself the time to enjoy the beautiful life I’ve worked so hard to create. But don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere!”

Follow Katelyn Maida on Social Media @RadioKatelyn