How a Radio Personality Got Into Advertising

Alabama-based o2ideas works for Verizon and Gateway


Who Shelley Stewart, founder and CEO

What Creative agency

Where Birmingham, Ala.

In 1967, radio personality Shelley Stewart decided he wanted to start an ad agency that would work for marketers who advertised on his show. As an African American in civil-rights-era Birmingham, Ala., Stewart knew he needed a partner so he sought out an old friend, Cy Steiner, with whom he formed Steiner Advertising (Steiner was the face, Stewart was the silent partner). Through the years, the shop went through many iterations, ending up in the 1990s as o2ideas and graduating to national brands. Today, o2ideas works for the likes of Verizon, Gateway and the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. The 80-year-old has no plans to stop. “I don’t like the term retire,” said Stewart. “I’ll reduce activities, yes, but I want to be with [o2ideas] as long as they’ll let me.”