Her original plan was to attend medical school, but on a whim, Dayna Steele auditioned for a disc jockey position at Texas A&M U
Dayna Steele built a huge fan base and rubbed elbows with the most prominent musicians in the 1980s and 90s. For nearly two decades, she rocked Houston’s airwaves with tunes from the likes of AC/DC to ZZ Top. She earned national recognition as Billboard magazine’s Local Radio Personality of the Year in 1996 and as one of Talkers Magazine’s 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in 1998. Fans of her midday gig at KLOL-FM, known as “Steeleworkers,” traveled around the world with her as she broadcasted from the front lines in Bosnia to the grand opening of the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
Home sweet home
In 1998 she left the rock world to enjoy a family life with her husband and three children. “Just like in the movies and TV shows, when your first child is born, everything changes,” Steele says. “Although I still get to attend fabulous parties, book tours and make TV appearances, I just can’t wait to get home.”
Staying at home didn’t mean sitting around. She immediately started an online store, then a new form of business. “I thought about it for two years before I created it,” Steele says. “There were only two places you could buy space items, Florida and Houston, and that just didn’t seem right.” The Space Store became one of the world’s largest retailers of specialty, space-themed merchandise. The experience was very enjoyable. “I was making money in my sleep. Who wouldn’t like it?” she says.
After selling the company to a NASA contractor in 2000, Steele embarked on another venture, Smart Girls Rock, a Web site encouraging girls to develop skills and seek careers in math, science, technology and business. “Everybody wants to be the next American Idol,” she says. “Why not the next scientist?”
Standing on top
After some procrastination, she wrote and published, “Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success from the World’s Greatest Rock Stars.” She focuses on branding and networking along with attributes like confidence, organization and appreciation. Sprinkling in stories and advice from the world’s best rock musicians, her book is a blend of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and crafty business skills. Her quirky mannerisms and storytelling convey her life’s passions, which she says is important in making any venture a success. “[Passion] is hands down the most important part of succeeding. You must love what you do and be willing to jump out of bed each and every day to do it. Passion makes you work harder and will get you over the bumps in the road,” Steele says. “Go after what you want, not the money; if you follow your passion, then money will follow later.”
However, Steele does not call “Rock to the Top” a tell-all. “Certain stories, the ones that I actually remember, will stay safely locked in my brain for a long time to come,” she says. “I have good friends from those years. I now have young children, so some must remain solely mine to make me smile … or cringe.”
R-O-C-K in the USA
Steele’s business pursuits always include her philanthropic work. After she left KLOL, she remained involved with their Rock ‘n’ Roll Auction, and she takes the time to visit cancer patients. Her latest venture, Operation National Anthem, has garnered national accolades. This series of videos played prior to “The Star Spangled Banner” encourages event attendees to “turn off their cell phones, stand up, stop talking and pay attention to our national anthem,” Steele says. “It all started with a civilian friend working in Iraq, who sent me a story about a Jamaican contractor who had been favorably impressed with our anthem. This contractor went on to say how shocked he was to hear people talking when the anthem was sung at an event he attended in the United States.” The videos feature U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq.
For her patriotism, Steele was featured as one of “35 People Who Inspire Us” in May’s issue of Reader’s Digest. “To be included on this list with Harrison Ford, Maria Shriver and so many other amazing people is humbling and overwhelming,” Steele says. “I think most people in this country are proud Americans. We just sometimes forget to show our respect during ‘The Star Spangled Banner.'”
Although she enjoys life off the air, Steele still acknowledges music as her passion. Her radio retirement may be as permanent as the Rolling Stones’. “There’s just something about music that’s touched me deep in my soul,” she says.