White featured at Women Who Rock event

Abby Who Knew (2)

Abby White

Abby White, director of development for the College of Media and Entertainment and WMOT 89.5 Roots Radio, was a featured guest speaker at the Who Knew … Women Who Rock event at the City Winery on Jan. 25.

White took the audience on a compelling – and often hilarious – journey through her multi-faceted career, from her early days an account executive at WRLT Lightning 100 to her stint as the communication manager for Leadership Music, and later launching the award-winning weekly women’s column Vodka Yonic in the Nashville Scene.

Hired as the College’s development director in 2015, White has worked hard the past three years to raise money and build industry relationships for the College’s three departments – Recording Industry, Journalism and Media Arts.

“I’m motivated by creating opportunities for our students, as I know they’re among the next generation of leaders in the media and entertainment industries,” she said.

That included taking on additional responsibilities when the university’s National Public Radio station, WMOT 89.5, switched formats – from jazz/classical to Americana – in fall 2016. White was instrumental in bringing program and music director and Americana Music Association co-founder Jesse Scott to the attention of Dean Ken Paulson, whose idea to change the station’s format to Americana resulted in a ratings leap, from 43rd out of 44th to No. 25 in the Nashville radio market.

“When it comes to job security, I’ve learned two – or three – jobs are better than one,” she quipped.

White, who remains a contributing editor for the Scene, also spoke warmly about Jim Ridley, the alt-weekly’s respected and much-beloved editor, who passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

“One of the most rewarding – and hardest – things I’ve done is start a scholarship in memory of one of my mentors, Nashville Scene Editor Jim Ridley, who passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest in 2016,” she said.  “Jim was an alumnus of the School of Journalism …, and if you’ve read his work, you know he was one of the finest writers Tennessee has ever produced.” White labored tirelessly to establish the Ridley scholarship, organizing breakfast and evening fundraisers as well as reaching out to Jim’s friends and family. In May 2017, the college awarded the first Ridley scholarship to a promising young journalist, David Chamberlain.

A native of Peoria, Illinois, White embodies the Midwestern work ethic and credits her success to hard work.

“The most important thing I’ve learned is that you will figure it out if you work hard and do good work, and if you’re not afraid to learn new things,” she said. “This is what we try to instill in our students at MTSU, and I’m living proof that you don’t have to map out your entire life in order to have a rewarding career in a field you are truly passionate about.”

The Who Knew series continues to bring together thought leaders and powerbrokers with yet-to-be discovered change-makers in the entertainment industry. The Who Knew…Women Who Rock lineup for the Jan. 25 evening also included: Patty Smyth, Grammy- and Oscar-nominated artist and songwriter; Michelle Phillips, founding member of The Mamas & The Papas, Grammy Award winner and member of the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame; Stacie Seifrit Griffin, head of marketing, media and tourism for the Lockn’ Festival and Infinity Downs Farm; Alanna Royale, musician, activist and glamazon; Becky Gardenhire, partner at WME; Liz Rose, Grammy Award winning songwriter; and Heather McBee, vice president of operations at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and emcee for the night.

abby who knew 2

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