Communication and Media Studies alumna Tanya Hart is many things, some of which include a television personality, radio host and celebrity interviewer.
When she learned she received the Distinguished Service Award from The Caucus for Producer, Writers and Directors, an alliance of television and new media content creators, she was “humbled and grateful,” she said.“When the day came to accept the award, I must say I had a ‘wow’ moment because to be celebrated by this particular group of peers was monumental," she said. "I did ask myself: ‘How did a little girl from Michigan end up here tonight?’”
Hart, who has received numerous other awards, credits her MSU education with helping launch her career.
“I must say Michigan State University played a very large role in my journey,” she said, adding that her MSU degree has been extremely valuable in not only shaping her career but “sustaining it for more than four decades.”
One thing she said she learned from her time at MSU is that you must be prepared when opportunity knocks and you must also know how to create an opportunity.
Hart first started her career at WKAR Radio on April 4, 1968, the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. “It came to me that I should do something to help people through this horrific happening,” she said, so she went with her friends and a couple of record albums to the station with the idea of "playing some music and reflecting on Dr. King while making an appeal for calm.”
The station manager, much to their surprise, ended up turning it into a regular program, called “The Taking Care of Business Show.” The show lasted in that same format for 20 years and is still on the air today in another format.
Hart stayed with WKAR until she graduated in 1971, and although she moved to New York, the station kept her on as a freelancer to do radio interviews on New York’s theater scene.
At WBZ in New York, she trained in four areas, news, production, sales and promotion, and after becoming an associate producer in production, she went on air as a reporter at a competing station in 1976.
“I have done thousands of interviews and stories since that time,” she said. “And since I have had several of my own shows, all of them dear to my heart, I do think perhaps the best time of my career was the six years I spent at E! Entertainment Television.”
At E!, Hart was a co-host of the “Gossip Show,” which aired in 140 countries and brought her worldwide recognition.
Hart is now the owner of Tanya Hart Communications Inc., a multimedia company she started in 1995, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary this past year.
“We were lucky and started off with a sizable contract from Disney’s Hollywood Records,” she said. “Over the years, we have contracted with most of the major networks and many production houses.”
For students who want to follow in Hart’s footsteps, she recommends they follow their passion.
“It takes a lot of passion to succeed in the media business,” she said. “You have to love what you do whether it is in front or behind the camera. You have to be willing to sacrifice your time, family, resources and numerous other things. But most of all, you need a lot of heart and the ability to tell a story.