From Oil Country To Oprah
The president of Oprah Winfrey Network/Harpo Studios has Oklahoma roots.
Erik Logan can teach us a valuable lesson: Pay close attention to your radio station mascots. They might just become Oprah Winfrey’s high-ranking executives someday. Logan’s first job might seem to barely foreshadow the great heights he was to subsequently climb.
“When I was in high school in Oklahoma, my first job was at KXXY, a country music station in Oklahoma City, as their mascot, Chuck the Duck,” Logan says.
But, the strong ambition was clearly there, as Logan worked his way up the ranks with dedication, becoming the station KEBC’s youngest station manager ever. Logan says that he missed many school dances while growing up in the northwest section of Oklahoma City because of the hard work he was putting into his radio jobs.
But, it was worth the sacrifice because it interested him in the power of mass communication.
“I am thankful for the experience because it gave me a front-row seat to the creative process in radio,” Logan says. “The part that attracted me to the industry was that I liked the notion of using sound and imagery.”
Logan’s start in the medium of radio allowed him to witness “the powerful reactions that words and actions could evoke from audiences,” he says. From his humble beginnings as mascot, he went on to work at CBS/Infinity Broadcasting, Citadel Broadcasting and then as executive vice president, programming and broadcast operations for XM Satellite Radio.
While at XM, Logan helped Winfrey launch Oprah Radio, he says. Then, in 2008, Winfrey asked Logan to join Harpo as executive vice president.
“From the very first time I met Erik Logan I knew that he was a guy who has ‘it’. It’s indescribable what ‘it’ is. It just is a dynamic,” Winfrey has said of their first meeting,
Logan says that prior to meeting Oprah, he already felt total respect for all of her major life accomplishments.
“No matter where you are in the world or the country, when her name comes up, the universality of great intentions and helping people, being a better person overwhelms the conversation,” Logan says.
It is this intention of the network that inspires him, Logan says.
“Oprah talks of the network as it being a platform – an opportunity to teach from,” he says. “The intention of the network is to help enlighten others and make them feel good.”
When Oprah transitioned to CEO of OWN, she asked Logan and his counterpart, Sheri Salata, to be co-presidents of both OWN and Harpo.
“Of course, we jumped at the opportunity,” Logan says.
Today, Logan works with Salata to oversee the companies.
“As president, there is really one major responsibility, which I share with Sheri, and that is we work tirelessly to execute the vision and wishes of Oprah for this network and all of her companies,” he says.
Logan adds that working to execute this vision is what he enjoys the most about his job.
“My favorite part is being so close to this brand and having a responsibility of furthering Oprah’s mission. Oprah is so beloved around the world,” Logan says. “I love working with Sheri Salata, my counterpart, to find creative ways to help enhance and execute Oprah’s vision.”
The companies have teams in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles – all quite far from the state where Logan spent his first 23 years.
“The thing that I love about going home (to Oklahoma) is the wide open spaces,” he says. “You really do feel connected to the land, and the energy and spirit of that land.”
A huge sports fan, Logan also keeps up with the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma City Thunder to help him unwind. (He has a Kevin Durant jersey in his office.) He also loves trying new activities.
“Recently, I’ve started learning to surf,” he says. “However, now as a 41-year-old, I think that probably less physical sports are in my future, especially when my surf instructor is half my age and looks like Brad Pitt from Troy.”
So how does one go from a mascot in radio to working for Oprah and surfing?
“Follow your passion,” Logan says. “If you find something that you have a connection with or an energy flow that is drawing you to do something, whether it is radio or television or entrepreneurship, do not let anything get in the way of you doing that.”