Karma Comeback

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on March 30, 2021 

“Surround yourself with good people and you will always be successful.” It’s a quote from Kidd Kraddick, from years ago, that I will never forget. I learned the same lesson from watching my father as a football coach and my brothers as athletes. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a successful career in radio over the last 20 years, and it’s largely due to the teams we built and developed along the way and the people I surrounded myself with. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in one or two situations where the culture in the building was cancerous from the top down and my teams were set up for failure, but as fate would have it, there is a reason for everything, and Karma is real.

The reason I bring this up now is because after spending a few days working with Kellie Rasberry, co-host of the nationally syndicated “Kidd Kraddick Morning Show,” for All Access’ “Women To Watch” feature, she gave Kidd so much credit for her success and for believing in her and understanding the need to surround himself with good people. I remember how much I admired Kidd and Kellie as well during my early career. I started out as Morning Show talent before I became a Programmer and although I never had the chance to work directly with Kidd, he was one of my biggest fans.

I was never lucky enough to be popular in high school, but with Kidd, I felt like I was in the “IN” crowd. He loved my input for BITBOARD, and always allowed me to be on the Original channel (there were several due to market exclusivity) with all the big names, because, regardless of the circumstances, he loved my contributions to the content. He was always a reference for me, always took my calls, always encouraged me, and always coached me if I needed it. I’ll never forget the day he actually kept me from getting out of radio.

We were all at Morning Show Bootcamp in New Orleans back when I worked at B97. I was the new morning show host and worked with a producer who was just hired from Detroit. I was on top of the world doing mornings (which is what I always thought I wanted to do) on the legendary station I grew up dreaming about working for as a kid, because I’m from Louisiana. On the first day of Bootcamp, my PD and Consultant sat me down at the event and told me I was being moved from mornings to middays. (I’m pretty sure that was strategic, like breaking off an engagement with someone in the middle of a crowded restaurant.) I was devastated and embarrassed to be there because I was no longer going to be Morning Show Talent. I seriously wanted to quit because the way it went down was so shady.

The previous week I went home for my grandmother’s funeral (the only grandparent I had left when I was born). While I was out, the producer and the PD (and I’m assuming the Consultant) arranged to have the afternoon guy sit in for me so they could hear the two together. The producer had this one trick, a voice guy who could impersonate Jack Nicholson (who was a big deal at the time). He never suggested we do it when I was hosting the show, in fact, he left out a lot of bits that could have been great before I left to go home. But C’est La Vie. As I’m sure you can guess, we had a new morning show team with two guys, and I was moved to middays.

So back to Morning Show Bootcamp. After getting the news about my “demotion,” as I am in the elevator trying to leave the hotel, it stops, the door opens and a few people from Kidd’s show, including him, and a few friends from other shows step in. It was obvious I was devastated, but the crew was having none of it. They wouldn’t let me leave, they wouldn’t let me get down on myself, they talked smack about my boss so I would feel better, and they took me under their wings. I spent the entire convention hanging out with them and creating some of the best memories I have from my radio career (the ones I can actually remember). The entire week to these guys was one big ol’ bit and an incredible learning experience. Kidd was the leader, and everyone had a role. We explored New Orleans cuisine, got kicked out of a bar on Bourbon Street thanks to Jeff & Jer, convinced everyone on Bourbon that we were escorting an NFL player around, all got on stage together at the Cat’s Meow. Kidd wore a jacket and played an “agent.” I played the “white trash girlfriend,” other’s played photographers, fans, squad members etc. We would walk down the street and stage photo ops and autographs. And somehow, we ended up on that damn boat on the Mississippi River where Kidd won an obscene amount of money gambling that night. The entire experience was such a blast.

I learned so much from these guys, including and especially courage. They had convinced me that I was better off not having to get up so early, that I’d have my own show and not have to work with someone else who wasn’t on the same page as me. And that moving forward, because I had experience and credibility in morning drive, I’d still be able to keep all the perks that went along with it, especially my relationships.

As it turns out, it ended up being one of the happiest times in my career and I made so many friends that are still in my life regardless of what I am up to, who would drop everything if I needed them. And if you’re keeping score. Karma did set in pretty quickly, as the “New Morning Show” (which if I remember correctly) barely made it through a year before jumping ship and going across the street to our direct competitor. My boss was so mad that they had betrayed him that way and in the back of my mind all I could think was “Karma is a bitch.” The very next morning he called me in to his office and asked me to go back to mornings.

By that time, I was in love with middays and killing it with remotes and endorsements. I didn’t want to get up that early again and was still a little hesitant (pissed) to help my boss. So, I made a counteroffer (thinking I was doing myself a favor instead of him). I’d come in at 8a and do mornings with Yvonne Spillers until 10a, then I’d do my regular shift. So, I was on the air for 8 hours every day. Each morning I would come in with a LARGE “fufu” coffee and a bag of coffee beans, which explains my coffee addiction to this day. I was bouncing off the walls and I loved it.

Yvonne and I were hosting an all-female show which was unheard of at the time and New Orleans had just gotten a new ECHL Hockey team and it was all the rage. We had a blast. In hindsight, we really did need a male perspective on the show, but the best we got at the time was a male traffic reporter who did occasional bits with us.

Sadly, the fun did eventually end when B97 was bought by another company and flipped back to its original format, CHR, (temporarily a Hot AC) which was 100% the right decision. The challenge for me was, the new PD did not like me, and told me I would never get a better job than the one I currently had. And as much as New Orleans was my home, it was time for me to move on. A few weeks later I was hired by 93Q Country, KKBQ in Houston to work with JohnJay Van Es. I will never forget the look on my PD’s face when I told him. Was that Karma in the works again?

So, while we watch our friends and colleagues go through the struggles of consolidation, downsizing and voice tracking, and sit in fear of whether we are next, and what Plan B is, just know that you don’t get stripes in this industry until you go through something like this, and it may take a minute, but there is always an opportunity for a Karma Comeback.