Karen Steele, Program Director of 99.9 Virgin Radio (CKFM-FM) Toronto, has been named the 2022 recipient of the Rosalie Award by the Radio Trailblazers, a volunteer organization celebrating and supporting women in radio through education, inspiration, and mentorship.
The award, named in honour of the late Rosalie Trombley – the legendary music director of CKLW-AM “The Big 8” Windsor/Detroit – recognizes Canadian women who have blazed new trails in radio.
Steele started her radio career as the Program Director of CRNC, the campus station at Niagara College, while studying in the broadcasting program. She joined 97.7 HTZ-FM St. Catharines as a “cruiser girl” in 1990, and seven years later was promoted to Program Director. After a one-year detour to Corus Radio to work as APD and Promotions Director at Energy Radio 107.9 (CING-FM) Burlington, she returned to Standard and MIX 99.9 Toronto, working her way up to Director of Promotions for MIX, 97.3 EZ Rock (CHBM-FM), and Newstalk 1010 (CFRB-AM). In 2005, she was elevated to Program Director of MIX 99.9.
After another brief detour into publicity and promotions for Warner Bros. in 2009, Steele joined Rogers’ KiSS 92.5 (CKIS-FM) Toronto as PD. She made the move to Bell Media in 2016, initially programming 105.3 Virgin Radio (CFCA-FM) and KFUN (CKKW-FM) Kitchener, before joining 99.9 Virgin Radio Toronto in her current role in 2017. She’s since rebuilt the station’s on-air lineup, including developing new morning show, Virgin Mornings with Adam Wylde, TJ & Jax. 99.9 Virgin Radio has won multiple Canadian Music Week honours as CHR Station of the Year, while Steele was named Program Director of the Year, Secondary Market in 2018, and Program Director, Major Market in 2015 for her work with KiSS 92.5.
Among other projects she’s worked on over the years is Seneca College’s GEN NOW program, providing students with the opportunity to get hands-on, on-air experience at KiSS. Steele has also been a mentor with the Bell Talent Development program and created “Empower Hour” – an hour of programming with an all-female lineup of rock star hosts and artists for International Women’s Day, which rolled out across the Virgin Radio network this year.
Steele will be presented with her award on Tuesday, June 7 in the Ballroom at Intercontinental Toronto Centre Hotel as part of the Radio Active 2022 – The Future of Audio conference during Canadian Music Week.
“As we celebrate our 17th year of the Rosalie Trombley award, we are thrilled to announce Karen as our recipient for this year. Our selection was made from a stellar group of talented nominees, which even further recognizes the strength and significance women contribute to the success of the broadcast industry in Canada” said Nancy Brown Dacko, Chair of the Radio Trailblazers, in a release. “Another highlight of our presentation features Barbara Williams, Executive Vice President, CBC who will address the audience as our keynote speaker. Special thanks to Gary Slaight and Barbara Williams for their continued support.”
The full schedule for Radio Active 2022 – The Future of Audio is available at www.cmw.net/radio.
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