Luckily, she has managed to do both. Promoted this year to the new role of exec VP-director of global research integration at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media, New York, Ms. Koerner is one of the media industry's leading analysts of TV audiences.
On the side, the 34-year-old executive moonlights as a professional singer and has performed with musicians including everyone from Chaka Khan to her husband's band in Manhattan.
"In my early 20s, I took two years off to pursue singing full time, but eventually I returned to my media career, which was easier do to after exploring my passion for music," says Ms. Koerner.
A college internship in the early 1990s at Katz Media, Chicago, stoked Ms. Koerner's interest in TV programming research, and led to her first job: a three-year stint in sales and marketing research at CBS-TV, New York, where she became fascinated with the buying, selling and ratings of media.
In 1997, Ms. Koerner obtained a master's degree in media ecology from New York University, deepening her analytic abilities. "I've always been very interested in the sociology of media and the way entertainment comes together with behavior and technology, and going back to school gave me a deeper perspective," she says.
Ms. Koerner next worked for one year as a media planner at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, and in 1998 was recruited by Steve Sternberg, senior partner-director of broadcast research at TN Media, a unit of Bozell, which eventually became part of Initiative, the media buying giant within Interpublic.
Research has never been a dry subject to Ms. Koerner; she says it takes a great deal of creativity to discern patterns from reams of information about programming and ratings that help in making buying decisions.
"Anybody can spit out data, but to see what's really going on, you have to peel back the layers and look for the story the numbers are telling you," she says.
INTEGRATING GLOBAL TRENDS
With her promotion last April, Ms. Koerner gained responsibility for integrating global trends into her research, which meshes with expertise she has developed in multicultural media and ethnic viewing habits in the U.S.
Over the last few years, she has also spearheaded Initiative's relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which shares resources with the agency for ongoing media research projects.
One key to Ms. Koerner's success is her panache in making presentations, says Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales-U.S. for Discovery Networks, who supervised her at CBS several years ago.
"Stacey has a fantastic ability to show clients what hard numbers mean, and to make complex research easy to understand," he says. "That's rare, and as media becomes more complex, it's very valuable."
A knack for entertainment also helps.