“I like to tell people stories,” Kianna Price Wade, ’00, said to a campus recruiter during her senior year at the University of Richmond. She went on to tell Eli Lilly’s stories as a pharmaceutical sales executive for seven years before she found her calling as an urban radio host.

“After a year or two into it I said, ‘Yeah, this isn’t what I want to do with my life,’” Wade said. “I wasn’t happy going to work in the morning. But I didn’t want that destiny; I didn’t want to be that person who dreads going to work every day.”

At a talent show, a member of the Vibe 100 Lynchburg, Va. radio station staff told her she had natural flair as an on-air personality. But it was another year before she started working for Vibe 100 part time. After a year of working weekends, the owner of the station asked her to work full time as promotions director.

“It just combined everything I loved,” she said. “It’s cool being out and about in the community, being able to work with non-profit organizations, working with people, organizing concerts and events. … It was a hard choice to walk away from the niceties of the job [at Eli Lilly] but I think everything happens for a reason.”

Wade majored in rhetoric and communication studies and leadership studies, with a concentration in performing arts. Her work with Vibe 100 combines the civic leadership emphasized by leadership studies and her passion for the performing arts. She said she was surprised by the impact she could have on people’s lives through radio as a vehicle for expression.

Wade organized a “Penny Pick Up” fundraising drive for Haiti relief, bringing a pick-up truck to popular locations where people could throw their loose change into the back. One school brought $1,400. Vibe 100 raised $12,000 and collected more than 980,000 coins. It rained on some of the collection days so they had to physically dry all the coins before they took them to the bank.

Wade said she also does local community organizing through both work and her personal life. Her pet project is the Vibe 100 Professional Network. On the second Tuesday of alternating months, Vibe 100 hosts a networking event at a restaurant and asks for a minimum $3 donation to support local nonprofits.

“It’s a give and take,” Wade said. “We allow these professionals to come together but also give back to the community. It’s humbling sometimes, a lot of times events start up but don’t last; this one’s been going since March 2008.”

In addition to providing resources for professionals, Wade enjoys being a resource for young people. She has spoken during career day at Apple Ridge Farm, an outdoor educational camp for at-risk youth, since before she made her career change.

“They always ask how much money I make,” she said. “It’s not necessarily about the money; it’s about what makes you happy.”

Wade may make less money than she did as a pharmaceutical executive, but one compensation as a radio host is interviewing people like John Legend, Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

“It feels great to get up every day and be excited to go to work,” she said. “My advice would be to follow your dreams, do what you need to do to make yourself happy.”

Wade lives in Roanoke, Va. with her husband and two children. She is a choir director and meeting coordinator at her local church, and is active in Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Jack and Jill of America program.