A Tribute to Steve Forsyth

» Posted on Dec 12, 2012 in Blog, Difficult Discussions | 17 comments

My former boss, Steve Forsyth, was killed at the mall shooting yesterday in Portland. When I saw this on the news, it was impossible to believe. Steve was larger than life… invincible, in a way, to those who knew him.

One day, Steve and I had an explosive interaction that radically changed the course of my life. You see, he was one of the only managers who allowed his staff to express open feedback, ask awkward questions and share unpleasant personal truths. Steve had intense passion for people and willingness to show his emotions when needed.

To me, this was the greatest thing about him.

For months (maybe years) I had been deeply unhappy selling radio commercials. The money was good. My free time was plentiful. Yet it was time to move on and I refused to let go.

In a meeting with Steve, I remember losing my temper like never before, unleashing rage that wouldn’t be tolerated in any business setting. Steve leaped from his chair, slammed the door shut and got in my face with his ears burning red and his eyes shooting fire.

He said in the most calm voice he could muster, “Listen Erin, we ALL KNOW how unhappy you are here. When are you going to DO something about it? ACCEPT YOUR DESIRE TO MOVE ON!”

That moment was my most memorable experience in radio. On one hand, I was devastated that my true feelings had been so obvious, but I was also relieved to be seen (finally) for who I truly was. His honesty was painful, but oh-so liberating.

Two weeks later, it was my last day on the job. Steve helped me resign with confidence and closure. He even arranged a going away party that was both honoring and meaningful. He was the last person I hugged before getting in my car to drive away.

In the last few years, I’ve carried Steve’s influence like a locket around my neck. His leadership showed me the GOOD that’s created when we can speak about things that are difficult, hidden, and uncomfortable.

Today, this has become my entire M.O. With a company called Marketing Your Truth and a TV show named Reveal What’s Real, I can only hope to make Steve proud and continue his legacy.

Honesty, reflection, and transparency have become crucial to success in today’s business world. When truth cannot reach those in power, there’s always a price to pay. Steve understood this. He exemplified authentic communication and genuine compassion. Because of this, he was massively loved by everyone in media.

Please keep his wife, Carla, and their kids, Katie and Alex in your prayers.

Steve, thank you so much for everything.
Rest in Peace.



  1. He was a good man. Honest and caring. He had fun, played hard and worked hard. I will remember his passion for life! Sending you a big hug and lots of love. Once part of the radio family, you can check out anytime you want but you can never really leave, like the Eagles said. Love you!

  2. A beautiful tribute, Erin. Peace to all.

  3. Sounds like he was a remarkable man.

  4. Erin,

    Thank you for sharing. My heart hurts for those affected by yesterday’s madness. That includes his family most of all but extends to you and those who knew Steve.

    What I hear in your story is the beauty of true authenticity. Of being brave enough to allow the brilliance that is uniquely you to come out. To be comfortable being different, knowing those who love you won’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter. It sounds like Steve modeled that and inspired that in you. It is contagious. It is transformational.

    What a legacy.

    I pray knowing this is how Steve will be remembered will bring some comfort to his wife and children during this difficult time.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to such a special man. Along with being your aware boss, his ability to voice what you were unable to voice and to stand in the center of Truth, says that he was also a True Friend in the best sense. Surely Grace and Strength will be with him on the other side of the veil as it was on this side. Hugs for you, dear one.

  6. This is a wonderful tribute to Mr Forsyth and it demonstrates the influence his life has had on yours, Erin. I now have a better idea of a major influence that leads you to live your life as you do, professionally and personally. Thanks for introducing him to those of us who did not know him. I join you in prayers for his family and friends.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story about this wonderful man.

    For those who will chant mantras, the one for someone who is about to pass or has just passed is Om Namo Naraya’naya. This mantra is a salutation to the Creator and brings peace to both the chanter and the person passing. It is usually chanted for 10 days after the person passes.

  8. Erin,

    Your words have brought a lump to my throat. They are the description of a man who treated others with respect and allowed them — wanted them — to be respectful of their own needs as well.

    My heart goes out to you, his friends, and most especially his family. Peace be with you all.

  9. I had the pleasure of working with Steve and Carla at Entercomm (97-99) and I always admired Steve. He was larger than life, just as you said. Always had a smile and something funny (and/or cheesy) to say. Steve always made me think about things a little differently, harder, sideways, etc. I remember his office was full of inspirational quote stuff and some people thought it was kinda silly, but I saw it as an outward expression of what Steve wanted to see in others. He wanted them to do their best, realize their potential, reach out and grab hold of life and go after their desires. Rarely did I see an angry Steve, but I do know the look you describe. But that’s passion. That’s fire. I also remember his love for Carla and Katie. “Katie, sing the hot potato song.” and when Alex was born, the man was GLOWING; if I recall correctly, Steve and Alex shared the same birthday. I haven’t seen him in a while, but I will miss him a lot. Rest in Peace, Steve. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Carla, Alex and Katie.

  10. Yours is a very kind memorial, Erin. It sounds like Steve lived with impact and fullness-of-the-moment. What a pleasure, I imagine, to have been around him. I am sorry for his passing.

  11. I had just started in radio and Steve was very helpful and kind in helping me learn about the business. He gave me tips on selling and threw in some free ones on life. A good guy. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

  12. Erin, thank you for this write up. I didn’t know him in life but witnessed his death. I am seeking closure and wondering if you know of his memorial service or anything of the like. I would really like to attend and pay my respects to the family. The shooter was aiming at me when his gun jammed and as I took cover I was staring at Mr. Forsyth… my heart hurts so badly for his family. Sending love to those who lost him.

    • Melissa,
      Oh my goodness… I can’t believe you were there and had this experience. My heart goes out to you!
      Steve’s Memorial Service is going to be at Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualitin OR, on Monday Dec 17th at 4:30pm. It’ll be open to the public.
      So much love to you in your healing.

  13. Erin,

    This is such a beautiful tribute. Thank you so much for sharing. It is truly a small world after all. Until I read your email I had no idea that anyone I knew was personally connected to this tragedy. It is so moving to hear how central Steve was at a pivotal moment in your life. I, too, was also involved in radio (back in the early 80’s) and know how rare such genuine communication can be in a field that is “supposed” to be all about communication! In my opinion, your tribute to Steve exemplifies the crucial blessing we can give to another in our most genuine moments — and how that can make all the difference. I would consider it a high honor to be remembered in my life as you have so lovingly remembered Steve.

  14. I really enjoyed your article.

  15. Thank you Erin for sharing your story and your mentor’s magic. Its a clear and simple reminder to speak your truth and honor each others. He sounds like he was an angel in your life and I am so happy that you got to know him. Sending love to his family right now.

  16. Erin, I am so sad to read this. My heart goes out to you.

    I actually had a somewhat similar experience, a precious friend of mine was murdered back in the mid eighties. I do not want to go into details.

    I had to take good care of myself to come back to a solid sense of life being good.

    I felt/feel a great responsibility to carry forward what I shared with my friend. That has been very healing for me. A way to keep his influence alive.

    Life presented me with several powerful opportunities to do that, and the love I have for my friend fueled my resolve to carry out that work, which was highly successful, one of these endeavors against almost overwhelming odds. The bond never dissolves. It transforms and puts down roots. It was very healing for me to see that. These opportunities came in 97-04 and 06….not immediately, but that time delay was even more proof that these bonds do not dissolve. Some things are forever.

    It was very important for me not to rehash the event in my mind…to revive myself by immersing myself in love and goodness to erase the images I had in my mind. Just my experience. Maybe that is helpful.

    Love to you.

    I truly believe that a more positive time is coming soon. Not a moment too soon.

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