All About SMY Media

Founded in 1969, SMY Media is one of the oldest and largest privately held media management companies in the Midwest. The founders of SMY, Virginia Shirley (current chairman and chief executive officer) and the late A.E. Staley, III, led the company through every major innovation in the media field. In February 2000, Virginia sold the company to long-time employees, Karen Sheridan and Gerry Grant.

SMY Media is headquartered in Chicago. By keeping our resources in a central location, we are able to maintain close supervision of all planning and buying. With over 12 employees, we offer complete research, planning, buying, billing and trafficking for all media.

SMY Media has 43 years experience in negotiating television (spot, network and cable), radio (spot and network), print (consumer and trade magazine, newspapers) and out-of-home media. In fact, virtually every media form including the internet and non-traditional advertising has been utilized by an SMY Media client.

Management Team

Karen P. Sheridan

Executive Vice President

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Northeastern Illinois State University in 1977, Karen began her career in media as an estimator for SMY Media. Displaying a natural talent for media, she quickly rose through the ranks becoming an assistant buyer in 1978 and senior negotiator in 1981.

In 1983, Karen moved to Marstellar Advertising as their first spot broadcast supervisor. There she managed a team of eight negotiators and assistants, supervising the media schedule placements for such clients as Jays Foods, Chicago Tribune, Beatrice Products Dairy Division and Culligan Water Systems. Karen remained hands-on, handling all Chicago and Canadian media placements.

In 1985 Karen returned to SMY Media as an associate media director, responsible for media planning and supervising media placements for several retail accounts: Morrison’s Cafeterias, Hair Cuttery and Pep Boys. Media experience on these included newspapers, coupon guides, hotel guest books and airplane tows in addition to the traditional broadcast.

While handling the Pep Boys account, Karen developed in-market, client media events for grand opening markets, as well as radio and television promotions in all markets, and introduced Pep Boys to the Hispanic market through Hispanic broadcast and participation in community events and festivals.

In 1987 Karen was promoted to vice president/media director and added other retail, consumer product and association accounts to her roster of responsibilities.

Karen has played an instrumental role in new business presentations and has helped expand SMY’s roster with such client acquisitions as ADM/Nutraceuticals, The Turkey Store Company and Wahl Clippers

In March ’99, Karen was invited to Washington, DC to provide expert testimony regarding media before the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administrations. Additionally, she has served as a media judge for the AAF student competition.

As executive vice president, Karen now supervises all phases of media planning, placements and presentations, as well as contributing to the day-to-day operations of the company.


Gerry Grant

Executive Vice President/Sales & Account Service

After graduating from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in communications studies, Gerry began his career at Jordan Tamraz Caruso Advertising in their recruitment division.

In 1985 Gerry moved to SMY Media as an estimator and quickly became an assistant buyer in 1986 and senior negotiator in 1987. He has worked on such diverse accounts as Dairy Management, Pep Boys, Mr. Coffee, American Trans Air and many political candidates and issue advocacy clients. Gerry was responsible for all radio, television and cable placements in over 65 markets and also instrumental in introducing Pep Boys in about 10 grand opening markets with radio and television schedules and promotions.

With a desire to expand his knowledge and further his career, Gerry moved to Great Lakes Networks in 1991 as an account executive. There he focused on political candidates, unions and advocacy issues and quickly became the top-billing salesman.

In 1993 Gerry returned to SMY as a management supervisor responsible for acquiring new business. Gerry has been the primary contact on such accounts as The Eleven Agency, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance and the Public Response Group.

In 1998 Gerry was promoted to executive vice president/sales and account service.


Sheila Hollins

Associate Media Director

After graduating from Southern Illinois University with a BS in Communications-Public Relations, Sheila began her career at Jack Levy Associates as an Assistant Media Planner and Buyer.

In 1999 Sheila moved to Kelly Scott & Madison as a Media Associate. There, she assisted with new business lead generation and presentations. She also helped foster good relationships with their partner agencies. Her planning and buying experience combined with strong research capabilities, made her the ideal point person to handle initial media planning and research needs prior to a new account being transferred to a planning team

While involved with new business, Sheila worked with several accounts that wanted her to continue on as the planner. In 2001, she became Media Planner/Buyer, responsible for planning and placement for several accounts: Lake Forest Hospital, Fertility Centers of Illinois, American Society of Plastic Surgeons and Shoe Carnival. There she gained extensive experience in local spot TV/radio, national cable, local and national print.

As an Associate Media Director at SMY, Sheila brings her commitment to client servicing, local market experience and ability to develop.

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