Rising Through the Ranks 2022 - Enjoy the Journey

Stephanie Theisen
Last updated by Stephanie Theisen

Bookends are a symbol of the beginning and the end of something. My bookends on an amazing chapter in my career journey at Leighton Media are Nashville, TN August 2014 and Nashville, TN August 2022.


These dates represent eight years filled with hard work, celebration, self-development, and leading an amazing team in St. Cloud, MN as General Sales Manager.

In August of 2014, I had the good fortune of attending the Rising Through the Ranks (RTTR) seminar presented and managed by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and the Mentoring and Inspiring Women Group (MIW) in Nashville, TN. I was there because I applied for and won a scholarship, and because my boss, Bob Leighton; CEO of Leighton Enterprises, believed in me – even when I did not believe in myself. At that time, I was an Account Executive and Digital Sales Manager. Just months after attending, RTTR, I became General Sales Manager of Leighton Media’s corporate office in St. Cloud, MN. Then, Director of Marketing and Events and next the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for 26 radio stations, a digital division, and our events division at Leighton Media.

Each summer, the RAB, BMI, and the Mentoring and Inspiring Women Group host the Rising Through the Ranks seminar in Nashville, TN. Not only is it a valuable professional experience, the seminar also provides many moments of inspiration and knowledge for the attendee’s personal life. Between 20 and 30 female media professionals attend RTTR every year, and this year, I was asked to address the 2022 RTTR class as a presenter. Invited to speak on the topic of culture and team building, it provided an incredible bookend on my journey as General Sales Manager, as I hand off the reigns to our new General Manager, Jim Allgeier.

In speaking with this year’s RTTR class, I was able to share my career journey including finding my North Star as a first step in transitioning to leadership and a “why” that is bigger than the title or increased compensation that accompanies a promotion. I went on to share the four pillars of our culture at Leighton Media and the importance of being inwardly sound as a leader at the center of the foundation. I believe the journey of self-improvement is never-ending just as a culture is a living thing and ever-changing.

Having an opportunity to share my growth journey and successes in building our team’s culture was an incredible experience that I hope inspires and empowers more women in our industry. The Rising Through the Ranks seminar is an amazing opportunity to further the education of employees, specifically women in radio, who aspire to be in leadership roles. I hold this program close to my heart and specifically, I would like to honor the Leighton Media women who have also attended and continue to rise through the Leighton Media Ranks: Kelli Frieler – Executive Director of Digital (RTTR Class of 2017) and Brianne O’Neill – Digital Sales Manager (RTTR Class of 2019).


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