Written by William Bryant Rozier
Virginia Richardson grew up here, is a Snider High School graduate who made it all the way to Washington D.C. to help launch the first BET Soul Train Awards, to run the marketing and sales promotions for VHI, and to help create another Viacom channel, Centric, before slingshotting back to Fort Wayne, with some other resume-lengthening stops in between.
Richardson’s Tilde Multimedia Firm is an all-encompassing firm that specializes in digital marketing, display ads, web development and management, search engine marketing (making sure you are found during Google searches), and also operations and promotions for events and shows. Her purview resides at the confluence of the creative and the technical.
Whenever Purdue University Fort Wayne needs an events technician specialist and audio engineering for one of their special events, Richardson, as their go-to, gets the call. She has a Master’s degree in Music Technology. She has a Bachelor’s in New Media with an applied degree in Computer Science. Both were attained at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI).
She started her career as a work-study underclassman by managing the music development. She convinced the director to give her a shot after admitting, “all I know is [Microsoft] Word. But I was willing to learn.”
Buried under the list of more approximate jobs to her creative vocation, Richardson was once--and no way I was guessing this--an Indianapolis sheriff. She began as a home detention officer, interacting well with families and children, before her promotion. But an illness with her lungs, “a near death experience,” she said, escalating the terror level, meant bed rest, and a release from her duties.
On the mend, she couldn’t talk and only communicated through typing or emailing. “I told the Lord if I make it through [this], I will pursue my dreams,” said Richardson, who always wanted to be in entertainment but a singing career, after lung surgery, was out of the running.
At home, resting up, Richardson met some dude named Charlie in a Yahoo-like chatroom for filmmakers who asked her if she could work anywhere, where would it be? She said BET and like a genie who’s been touched by the Hand of God, Charlie was actually able to grant her request. (Networking is important, kids!) When BET Emmy award-winning producer Mimi called a week later, she couldn’t believe it but didn’t necessarily hang up either. The producer thought she was already moving to D.C.; an unpaid internship was waiting when she did. But Richardson was still in school, a 31-year-old junior who wasn’t close to graduating. But a summer internship...that was doable. And she had a place to stay; an uncle of one of her cousins put her up rent-free for the duration. She had some money too, after saving little bits here and there from her disability checks.
In 2006, BET’s jazz channel was being rebranded as BET J; her dope ideas at the few brainstorming sessions she attended for BET J paved the way to Richardson to be invited to all of the meetings. And those good deeds spurred the network to a rare deal with IUPUI for Richardson to remain in D.C. while attending school in Indianapolis via an online streaming situation.
She was responsible for on-air promotions, making sure commercials ran at their slotted times. (She also helped launched the first BET Hip-Hop Awards and BET Honors.) The experience “wasn’t all good,” said Richardson, who recalled the cold shoulders by some of her co-workers who had all graduated from historical black colleges. IUPUI, believer or not, was seen as an Ivy League school by her colleagues and Richardson, by association, was viewed as “the other.” But “I soaked up all I could,” she said. “A lot of things I didn’t get paid for.”
She was moved from BET to Centric to VH1 before she was laid off. She came back home to visit family and netted an interview with 21 Alive the same day she sent her resume; the station pretty much created the position for her: sales promotions manager. But she was laid off again when Granite Broadcasting was bought.
Now freelance, Richardson helped launched a basketball series for the ESPN-broadcasted show, Ball Up; she moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, handled some white-glove clients ($10,000/ month spenders) for a newspaper/advertising agency before moving back to Fort Wayne to start her own firm, where the competition might not be as formidable. But there’s a trap door in that philosophy. A creative entrepreneur can carve out such a unique niche to basically eliminate competition. But comfort, Richardson said, is the true competition. “Especially with being a small market, people don’t realize the power they have with the new solutions that are out there,” she said, equating the public’s use of mainstays like radio, TV, and Facebook, to eating a fried food you know is bad for you but you do it anyway because…comfort.
Richardson has the means to advertise a product or service on GPS devices, like the FitBit, all 700+ search engines, has access to the same platforms that iHeart radio, CNN, and the Washington Post use, but at a wholesale price. “I have one of the biggest platforms in Fort Wayne that people don’t know about.”
Virginia Richardson | Tilde Multimedia Firm
3526 Stellhorn Road, Suite B, Fort Wayne, IN 46815
Email: VA@tildemultimedia.com | Website: TildeMultimedia.com
Virginia Richardson while working for BET, Richardson with actor/comedian Jamie Foxx, Richardson with Rick Ross
I run Scrambled Egg(s) Design and Productions, based out of Northeast Indiana. In addition to producing in-house company projects, I also create advertising materials for companies and organizations, with an emphasis on interactivity.