Pavlina Osta (MCA ’19) On Faith, Radio, and New York City
It was coming to King’s, and being surrounded with a community, that helped Pavlina to decide to embrace her parents’ faith for herself.
Pavlina Osta (MCA ’19) has taken a non-traditional approach to college, starting first with a New York City career and only then determining to pursue a degree at The King’s College.
In the summer after her junior year of high school, Pavlina attended a conference for radio broadcasters where she was hired as an intern at Salem Media Group, a leading radio broadcaster for conservative and Christian audiences. In the internship, she would help produce a radio show with former SNL comedian Joe Piscopo. Her start date would be in September, the day she turned 18. Pavlina signed the paperwork and told her parents she wanted to move from small town Port Orange, Fla. to New York City. From her new home in New York, she would complete the last year of high school online, earning her diploma through the International Baccalaureate program.
Young as she was, Pavlina’s on the spot offer came after she’d already been hosting a radio show for six years. In fifth grade, Pavlina’s school offered a steel drum program. “I liked it because it was different,” she says. Once Pavlina entered middle school, which didn’t offer the steel drums, she would go to the beach to play. “Word kind of spreads in Port Orange,” Pavlina says of her hometown, and at the age of 11 she started taking interviews with local radio stations that wanted to hear from a pint-sized steel drummer. One of the radio station managers, impressed with Pavlina’s eloquence in front of a microphone, encouraged her to start her own radio show.
So she did, coming under the wing of WAPN 91.5 FM. She ran a 15-minute segment called “Pavlina’s Kidz Place” that rapidly became popular. She was on two stations by her second year, and her 15 minutes turned into 30. The year after, she had an hour. As her unique, engaging interview style developed and the show’s audience grew, Pavlina self-syndicated, knowing that most established syndicators wouldn’t be willing to take a chance on a teenage host. Eventually, through an interview with Bob Pittman, the CEO of iHeartMedia, she gained national syndication with iHeartRadio.
From her very first interview with Kevin Jonas, whom she caught at the tail end of a concert meet-and-greet, Pavlina’s speciality was celebrity interviews. She has spoken with celebrities including Neil Diamond, John Oates of Hall & Oates, Ed Sheeran, Steve Forbes, Katie Couric, Fun., The Wanted, Carly Rae Jepsen, Shaquille O’Neal, and KISS. “It was exciting, but I would never ‘fangirl’ over who I was interviewing,” Pavlina says. “Because they were celebrities, interviewing them was more challenging than interviewing your neighbor. I wanted my show to be as good as it could be. I thought I might as well interview people whom others were interested in: I had an older audience because of the demographics of my stations, so I interviewed many older performers. They also have so much wisdom and I knew they’d made it through the ringer.”
During this time, Pavlina sought out networking opportunities at radio conferences and conventions, and it was at these conferences that she met Phil Boyce, who offered her the New York City internship at Joe Piscopo’s show. Months into the internship, Boyce encouraged her to apply to The King’s College. He saw that Pavlina had Christian roots—she was raised Lutheran and her father, born in Lebanon, is Catholic—and he hoped that attending King’s would nurture that faith.
For Pavlina, the location of The King’s College in downtown Manhattan has been providential. Salem Media’s New York hub is blocks away from the King’s campus, so Pavlina is able to take on a full class schedule while also working full-time at Salem Media, where she is now the executive director and producer of national podcasts.
Like Boyce envisioned, coming to King’s has been transformative for Pavlina’s faith. “I took ‘Introduction to Hebrew Literature’ with Dr. Dru Johnson online before I officially came to King’s, the summer before my freshman year,” she explains. “That was my first introduction to the Old Testament, so it opened my eyes to the Word of God. King’s gave me the community I desperately needed in such a big and at times lonely city. I was able to explore and cultivate my faith, and encouraged to do so. My wonderful House, the House of Thatcher, was always there for me whether it was academically, having someone to go to church with, or just needing a friend to talk to.”
Pavlina speaks about a thread of faith that has woven through her life. The first station that was willing to host her show was run by Christians, and her first internship, at the age of 16, was with Sean Hannity, “who was very passionate about his faith,” Pavlina says. “He taught me how to throw a football in between the breaks of his TV show, but he also told me to thank God for every day.” In 2014, she was chosen by Steve Harvey to be a Disney Dreamer and then worked for several years with Harvey as a media presenter and mentor; she was moved by how seriously Harvey treated his Christianity. Each of these influences shaped Pavlina’s understanding of what it could look like to know God as the source of your life and to trust Him through difficulties.
At King’s, “it all connected,” Pavlina says. Being surrounded with a Christian community helped her to decide to embrace this faith for herself. “Phil knew me very well to suggest I come to King’s. He knew that being able to have a community really helps me. I can go to my friends and say, ‘If this happens, where is God there?’ and I have professors who can answer my questions. Now, when I have something going on in my life, I will pray about it or talk to my pastor.”