You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kelly Edwards: Radio Disney tastemaker

Youth Impact Report 2010: Young at Chart

Two weeks out of college, Kelly Edwards got her first job as a local on-air DJ and immediately fell in love with it. “I realized radio’s such a great way to reach people directly. Audiences have this passionate relationship with the DJs on the air and the music they hear, and that translates into what they buy,” says the Oregon native.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1998, Edwards held jobs at Premiere Radio Networks, CNN en Espanol and RadioVisa before joining Radio Disney in 2007. As executive director of music and programming for the network, Edwards oversees on-air playlists as well as music and artist strategy, helping the network achieve an impressive average weekly audience of 29.9 million.

Hunting for new talent is a big part of Edwards’ job. With that goal in mind, she created the popular multiplatform “N.B.T.” (Next Big Thing) program, which spotlights young unsigned artists. Given her position, Edwards can directly increase newcomers’ exposure by deciding which artists get airplay or come in to the studio to appear on hit shows like “Take Over With Ernie D” — decisions she makes based on a mix of research and gut instinct.

“I got an email from a friend who’d met this young, unknown band, Allstar Weekend, handing out fliers at the Jonas Brothers 3D movie red carpet. I checked out their music and just loved it,” she recalls. After she showcased the band on-air for several months, they got signed to Hollywood Records and have since released their debut album. “I feel I’m a good barometer of what will be popular for the tween market,” she says.

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

  • Climate Mobilization

    Marshall Herskovitz: Why the Climate Crisis Needs Movie Marketing-Style Muscle

     I’ve lived inside the climate-communications conundrum for 20 years, working with scientists, academics and activists to find ways to convince Americans that something they couldn’t see or feel was nevertheless a looming catastrophe worth upending their lives to fight. Now the climate crisis is undeniable, and we are finally seeing the beginnings of concerted action. [...]

  • Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver Gain Oscar

    Telluride: Oscar Buzz Builds For Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver and 'The Two Popes'

    This year’s Telluride Film Festival began on Thursday with the Guest/Patron Brunch on a private estate about a 30-minute drive from the center of town. Eggs, bacon and fruit salad were being served as the sun was shining on Martin Scorsese, Adam Driver, Noah Baumbach, Laura Dern, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    Telluride: Audience Laughs and Cries During 'The Two Popes' World Premiere

    Little did the audience at the world premiere of “The Two Popes” know that the papal two-hander is actually very funny. No, it’s not a comedy, but the jokes and ribbing between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and the future pope, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), played well in the packed Chuck Jones’ Cinema, as did [...]

  • Renee Zwllweger in Judy

    Telluride: Renée Zellweger Will Return to the Oscars With 'Judy'

    The Oscars love actors playing alcoholic, drug-addicted singers. Last year, Rami Malek took home the big prize for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” beating out Bradley Cooper for his work as the fictional Jackson Maine in “A Star Is Born.” Over the years, we’ve seen Jamie Foxx win for “Ray,” Jeff Bridges [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content