Mary Reilly has been working in radio since 1987. You’ve heard her in Tucson, Phoenix, a variety of Midwest towns and now in Eugene, Oregon. She’s interviewed rock stars, movie stars and governors but one of her favorite achievements is showing that a two-woman morning show CAN be successful. A voice-over talent, copywriter and morning co-host of Liz and Reilly 94.5 Mix FM, Mary is no “one trick pony.” Away from the microphone, Mary has raised 3 kids, loves to play hockey and keeps 3 cats and 1 dog well-fed, although the family dog is pretty sure he’s starving.
Mary “stumbled” into radio at 17 when she called in to a radio station to submit a song request. The DJ complimented her voice, saying she would make a good radio host. Little did she know that this was the DJ’s clever pick up line. But no matter—a lightbulb went off and Mary found her inspiration for a career where she could connect with her love of music.
“If you’re doing what you love you are going to find a way to make it work,” said Mary.
Find out how Mary chases her passion on the Find Your Passion Career Podcast!
After high school graduation, Mary attended a 10-month broadcast school for hands on experience in running a radio station. She dreamed of hosting her own alternative music show and landed her first job hosting a 2-hour show on Sundays, The Other Side of the Tracks, in Tucson, Arizona.
But if there is one thing Mary knows about radio, it’s that the turnover is real. From ratings concerns to a switch up in programming, Mary attests that you are bound to at some point find yourself out of a gig. “You haven’t worked in radio till you’ve been fired.”
If you’re passionate about radio, you must be persistent. “In radio the main quality for success is tenacity…. showing up and asking for jobs,” said Mary.
Getting scrappy to chase her passion
In those moments between career gigs in the broadcasting world, Mary would pick up work doing anything from data entry to delivering pizzas. In other words, she got scrappy.
She will be the first one to admit that the world of radio isn’t always the easiest, but she has found something more worthwhile in a career that connects with her passion. “I have everything I need, and I have joy…I have a life full of joy and I don’t think there’s anything you can pay for that.”
Reflecting on her career journey, she knows that learning the field and the people in it has made all the difference. On the podcast, Mary encourages those interested in radio to make sure your skills reach many different aspects of the broadcasting process. “Learn the broadcast field as much as you can. So not just the on-air part because then you’re a one trick pony and that’s not going to get you very far,” said Mary.
No dream is too big
As a radio host, Mary lived moments that would leave most of us starstruck—like interviewing the one and only Stevie Nicks— but she takes a very down-to-earth-approach to these opportunities. It’s important to remember that we are all humans, she said on the podcast. She views her role as the “conduit” between the stars and their fans and works to bring out ‘whimsical’ and humanizing details in interviews. Mary encourages listeners to not limit your dreams—no dream is too big to chase.
“Take your chances. Take risks. Go ahead,” said Mary.
What dream of yours seems too big to chase? Don’t hold back, ignore the naysayers, and identify what it is that you really want in life. Then ask yourself: What’s one way you can build hands-on experience in your field like Mary did with radio? Listen in to Mary and then take a minute to consider how you can get scrappy pursuing your passion.
Once you’re inspired by Mary’s story, we would love to read your review. Thanks so much!