The EPR Team

Management Team

Tom Averna : Radio Station Manager

Tom Averna

Radio Station Manager

Tom is the Station Manager of emPower Positive Radio and the voice of the station.

Tom is a 15-year veteran of radio leaving the business in 1985 because he didn’t like the direction that corporate takeover was moving the industry. But he never stopped loving the work he did there. In 1999 he had a chance to return to his love when he stumbled across an article about Internet radio. Tom decided to try his hand at it. He also wanted to experiment with a format he’d thought about for a few years prior to leaving radio. The question he asked himself was why an adult station couldn’t play music from shows like Beauty and The Beast and Lion King and other “kid” movies since they made you feel so good to listen. Averna began to collect this “positive” music from children’s/family movies and mainstream artists like The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, Sting and many others and started learning how to put an Internet radio station together.

About this same time, he discovered New Thought and began attending services at CSL Seattle and had made friends who attended Mile Hi in Denver. There he found artists who performed incredible music with a positive message and he knew his mission was to start a station playing not only mainstream music that had a positive message, but the music of these New Thought Indie artists. In April of 2000 Radiopositive was broadcasting on Live 365. In 2002 after being approached by a record promoter, he and Scott Johnson founded the Positive Music Association.

A lot has happened since then and there have been many setbacks, but Tom never lost his love of and commitment to Positive Music. Now with his partnership with emPower Music and Arts, he feels he finally has found the team with the desire, vision and talent to make Positive Radio a reality.

Richard Mekdeci (mek-dee’-see) :

Richard Mekdeci (mek-dee’-see)

As the president and co-founder of emPower Music & Arts Richard is at the epi- center of the budding “Posi” (Positive) Music industry.

Richard’s experience as speaker, singer and award winning songwriter spans a wide range, from performing with the Florida Symphony Orchestra as a trumpet player, to over 20 years of writing, producing and performing in Nashville Tennessee with artists like Kathy Mattea, Susie Boggus, Patty Loveless, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Nelson, and others. He has produced or co-produced eighteen albums of Posi Music including six projects of his own.

Between 2004 and 2014, Richard worked at Unity Worldwide Ministries as Sacred Music Resources Coordinator where he produced songbooks, the Sound Connections music conference and newsletter and provided music resources to churches around the world.

He currently serves as Music Director at Unity Renaissance Spiritual Community in Chesapeake, VA where his wife Paula is Senior Minister.

Sue Riley :

Sue Riley

Sue is one of the co-founders and owners of empower Music and Arts, dedicated to promoting positive music.

She served as the chairperson for the Music Ministry Team for Unity Worldwide Ministries for 11 years, and under her leadership the team created 10 songbooks of Positive Music. Riley also envisioned and helped produce the Sound Connections Conference for 10 years which was created to provide support and training for other New Thought Music Directors. This conference is now part of the Posi Music Festival.

As Music Director of Unity Church of Clearwater for the past 18 years, Sue experiences the power of positive music on a weekly basis.

She is an award winning songwriter with 8 CDs, multiple songbooks, and other resources. She tours the country performing in PosiPalooza concerts with other great Posi Music artists.

Sue is the Music Director for emPower Posi radio, and part of the team that hosts the yearly Posi Festival and various songwriting retreats during the year. In addition, she serves on the board of directors for Summersongs, a songwriting camp held yearly in upstate NY.

Sue Riley is passionate about the power of positive music to change lives.

News Team

Vernon Howell :

Vernon Howell

Vernon was a radio announcer at various radio stations in Florida who fell in love with writing. He wrote radio commercials and public service announcements and then worked as a freelance writer. During his work as a journalist, Howell wrote travel and personal profile articles. As a student at Polk Community College, his creative work was chosen by the college’s reader’s theatre for performance.

Vernon was a Citizen Scholar Student of Writing at the University of Virginia before returning to his home state and graduating from the University of Tampa. When he graduated, class of ’06, he was tied for the oldest graduate in a class of over 800 students and he hopes he serves as a classic example that young at hearts should never say, “Too late.”

During his early days in radio, he interviewed many people from all walks of life, including great artists, politicians and sports figures. He is an award winning public speaker and writer who today, researches, writes, prepares PowerPoint shows and serves as presenter of various presentations for Eckerd College’s OLLI program.

Malayna Dawn :

Malayna Dawn

Malayna Dawn fell in love with words, music and positive messages as a child, and was a working vocalist by the age of 10, gaining experience in live performance, recording studios, and on camera in TV and film. As an adult, with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, she began working behind-the-scenes (and in front of them!) in radio, television, film, print media, online media and live events, both in the United States and her 12-year home of Sri Lanka. She has done a ton of positive writing for the Web and has authored a spiritual adventure novel: Echoes Across Time. Her mission statement is, "I use my voice–written, spoken or sung–to share my worldview, informing and inspiring joy, abundance and a life well-lived." Most recently, she shared positive connections as the producer and host of Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture and Spirituality Unite! on Unity Online Radio. Learn more about all of her work at malaynadawn.com.

Sherry Hursey :

Sherry Hursey

Sherry Hursey is an award-winning actress, vocalist, writer and producer whose face and voice are very familiar to television, radio and film audiences worldwide. Most recognized as, Ilene, on the hit series Home Improvement, or Kirsten Dunst’s mother in the Universal blockbuster Bring It On, Sherry has an extensive list of credits from stage to screen. Spreading her wings and following the call of her spirit, Sherry wrote, produced and starred in the upifting family musical, Lilly’s Light, winner of the KIDSFIRST BEST AWARD! Following, she founded Lilly’s Fostering Hearts, lillysfosteringhearts.org, a non-profit org advocating for displaced and foster youth. This led her to producing PSAs and interstitials for Public TV, as well as, co-creating Smile TV, a web based network dedicated to exclusively positive news. Sherry is now the co-owner of Turning On the Light Entertainment, TOtLEntertainment.com, where her heart and talents are being fully expressed by writing, producing and distributing inspiring and uplifting positive music and media.

Rick Cowling :

Rick Cowling

Rick Cowling is the co-owner, sound engineer and music supervisor for TOtLEntertainment.com. Aside from being an extremely accomplished musician, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, writer and producer, Rick has been the guitarist for Kenny Loggins, as well as, touring for five years as the lead singer and keyboard player for Ambrosia. You may even recognize him as the singing pharmacist on Modern Family. As a songwriter and music producer for Capitol records, Sony Playstation, numerous commercials and TV shows such as The Bachelorette, Beverly Hills, 90210 and Teachers on ABC, Rick has created an extensive library of original music and sound design. Rick has also produced music and DVD projects with many major artists including Bonnie Raitt, Gladys Knight, Laura Brannigan, Melissa Manchester, and Bobby Womack.

Debbie Frisch :

Debbie Frisch

Debbie Frisch works as a data analyst, utilizing spreadsheets and databases. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. She enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family. Debbie also enjoys playing music. She learned to play the organ when she was 8 and started playing the alto saxophone a few years later. As an adult she has played in a variety of local bands and continues to be a part of a trio called “Blended Energy” where she plays both the sax and keyboard.

After a couple of life changing events, she found herself going down the path of spirituality, becoming the kind of person that believes that every situation she goes through in life, happens for a reason and most of the time has a lesson to be learned.

After attending Posi Palooza concert about 10 years ago, she immediately fell in love with the positive and inspirational messages within these songs. The motto “Change your music-change your life” has proven to be very true for Debbie. She believes there is something positive in every situation, even thru difficult times.

Her new path is to help others see the good in the world by spreading positive news. It’s the pay it forward of positivity.