In New York Country Swag’s “Woman of the Month” series, we’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love.
Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly, and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women of the country music community, and beyond, who serve as role models and should be celebrated.
This month, we celebrate Monta Vaden, Senior Radio Editor of Country Aircheck as our March 2021 Woman of the Month.
Born and raised in Tennessee, Vaden has always believed in the power of women and pursuing your passions no matter what. She shared with us all about her journey to the country music industry, her advice for industry hopefuls, and of course, her favorite parts of her job as the Senior Radio Editor at Country Aircheck and her role on the Annual Country Radio Seminar (CRS) team.
“I always loved country radio. I was a radio P1 [listener] from an early age. I wanted to be Garth Brooks when I grew up,” she tells us. “I did not know that I wanted to be in the industry though, because I only knew that there were singers, which I am not, and there were DJs, which I am not.”
Despite growing up just outside of Nashville, Vaden was not aware of the bustling music industry that existed outside of radio personalities and performers. Instead, she took a different route, going to school for English and Business, and ultimately worked as a bridal consultant, serving women in Knoxville, Tennessee. After ten years in the bridal business, Vaden found herself at a crossroads in her career.
Over the years, she had developed some relationships with local DJs via Twitter, which led to her next big career move. “I had engaged with some local DJs, gotten to know them and one of them said we actually have some openings at the radio sation,” and I said “I don’t know anything about radio, I’m not an on-air person,” and they added, “No, we have sales, promotions, and marketing, things that kind of align with what you’ve been doing”. This put her on the trajectory of soaking up knowledge about an industry that she didn’t really know existed, as well as, reignited her passion for music.
“I was just very active in learning as much as I could about radio because once I got in I figured out how much I loved it,” she recalls, “It did align with growing up and loving music and country music specifically, and it did align with my marketing and sales background.” After a few years working in the industry in Knoxville, Vaden’s life took another turn, which led her to move to Nashville.
Admittedly, Vaden thought that it would be easy to find a job in the country music capital of the world, but she would quickly learn that she was easily mistaken. “I was not an on-air personality, I didn’t have that background. I didn’t go to school for music business. I hadn’t interned at a record label,” she shared, adding that she even sent a little over 100 handwritten notes to different people all over the industry and ultimately only got one call back from someone, who could not offer her a job but admired her hustle.
Although she didn’t land a job right away in the industry, eventually Vaden found herself applying for a job at All Access as an editorial assistant. Needless to say, she got the job and her career in trade publication began.
Flash forward to today, Vaden works as the Senior Radio Editor at Country Aircheck. Her primary role is to handle all radio related-news and help connect people in the industry. “My favorite part of what I do every day is the people. I love the people that work in this industry, and I am so passionate about helping people, connecting people, and lifting people up,” she tells us.
Upon speaking about how important it was for her to figure out her passions, follow them, and do something she really loved, Vaden adds, “Even on my worst days in radio, when I was so stressed and I didn’t know what I was doing, I was still so happy and excited and energized by it.”
On top of her role at Country Aircheck, Vaden is part of the agenda committee for Country Radio Seminar (CRS). Despite the many challenges that 2020 threw their way, Vaden and her teammates were able to create a virtual version of the normally in-person annual industry event.
“There was now a clear path to execute it,” Vaden says regarding getting the news that the event would ultimately be virtual after many months of back and forth scenarios. “From there it was a lot of firsts. For the first time, no one on the agenda committee met in person […] A new digital platform was created specifically for CRS.” A positive, though, was that the team could get speakers for panels that maybe could not have committed to an in-person panel in the past.
Overall the 4-day event was a major success. Vaden even shared that more people participated and enjoyed the more educational parts of the seminar. “I thought for not being present in the physical sense, it felt very connected. I hope that’s what other people felt as well.”
In addition, many successful women also helped put on the event, which is a pretty impactful thing in this day and age. “For me, it’s always been about making everyone feel welcome and letting everyone know they have a place. If you’re a female or if you’re a male or if you identify as a them or a their, you have a place here,” she shared of her experience in the music industry. “You can do great things here, and your age, and your gender, and your sexual orientation, and your religion, none of that needs to come into a play. You absolutely can make a name here, and it’s all about finding your group, and finding your path.”
As always, we wrapped up our conversation with the talented and inspiring professional by asking what advice she has for people hoping to break into the industry. Simply put Vaden shared “be willing to do the work,” adding, “Do the work to get to know people, really get to know them.”