Charese Fruge’ Talks To Angi Taylor
This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on October 20, 2020
Just two weeks ago The Angi Taylor Show launched in morning drive on Rock 95-5 Chicago. Riding shotgun is Executive Producer Abe Kanon. Less than two weeks into the launch, the pair scored a very revealing interview with rock icon Sammy Hagar. Not only did he sing to Angi, but he revealed confidential details of a long “feud” and eventual reunion with Eddie Van Halen and his final moments with him. “I was thrilled that my producer, Abe Kanan, secured this interview and when Sammy started talking about what HE even called ‘the feud’, I just shut my mouth and let it go because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” says Taylor. “This is one of the greatest rock bands of our lifetime and Sammy was in the mood to talk. I had a million questions, but with only 6 minutes, I knew to shut the F up. What an honor! I love Van Halen, and it will always be one of my favorite moments of my career!”
I don’t blame Angi for feeling that way. In the interview, the rock & roll legend actually sings to her. “To hear Sammy Hagar sing ‘Angie’ to me… I about died,” she says. “Honestly, I feel like every dude that has tried to be slick with me has sang that to me like I would fall to my knees, but it was SAMMY. I scurried out of that part because I was too flustered by it. I listened back about 20 times after.” Check out the full interview here.
That’s a helluva way to launch a show if you ask me. Major props are in order for Angi. “Thank you so much! I’m THRILLED! I’ve wanted to eventually come to this point, where I hosted my own show, but I won’t lie, there was a part of me that sat a little too long in the comfort of being the second mic,” says Taylor. “My thinking was ‘If it’s not MY show and sh*t happens to hit the fan it won’t be MY problem.’ That was pure insecurity and I wish I could shake the hell out of that girl who didn’t believe in herself enough,” Taylor adds. “One cold Chicago night, James Howard, VP/programming iHeart/Chicago, strolled into town and we had many tequila shots, and I found the courage to tell him my dream. Thankfully, when he was sober the next day, he remembered that conversation and worked with me for over a year to help make what became OUR vision come true.”
It wasn’t an easy road to the top, but like a lot of great talent, Angi’s journey started in college. “I lived in Minneapolis and was 20-years old and bartending at the big nightclub of the moment. Tone E. Fly, (now of SiriusXM), was the night jock at KDWB and did weekly appearances at the club. He offered me an internship during a time we could have interns for college credit. I jumped at that chance and fell in love with radio on my first day–it was a wrap. I knew I found my path,” says Taylor. Her first official gig was Morning Show co-host, for Dave Ryan in the Morning, KDWB/Minneapolis 1997-2002. Next up, Morning Show co-host for Chio in the Morning, Q102/Philadelphia 2002-2005, followed by Morning Show co-host for The Booker Show, Q102/Philadelphia 2007-2008, Morning Show co-host for DreX in the Morning, KISS/Chicago 2008-2010 and finally, Morning Show co-host for Fred + Angi in the Morning, KISS/Chicago 2010-2020.
“This show of my own is absolutely my biggest career accomplishment,” Angi says. “Before this happened, I would say the fact that Fred and I took our show from 18th place to first, that came with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It was a great training ground for what I’m doing now.” Angi also loves her side projects for IheartRadio. “It’s been amazing hosting and voicing the iHeart Radio Festival the last few years. Doing the backstage celebrity interviews for television, being on the national radio broadcast, and being the VOG (voice of god), the last 3 years. I have so many stories that my grandchildren will roll their eyes over one day!”
Angi’s success comes with its usual challenges, she says. Particularly with the ever-changing scope of the job and the industry. “It’s been a rollercoaster,” says Taylor. “Anyone on-air knows what I’m talking about. My only job was to entertain our audience for a block of time, but it is so much more demanding now. I am not only managing my show, but social media, sales support, and hopefully soon again, public appearances. I handle it the way we all do.” she adds. “I figure it out because that’s my job and I always want people to know that they have a pro working for them. I also have a family so this whole balancing act becomes very lopsided sometimes. I have an amazing husband and daughter, and I always feel like I’m not catering to them enough. I still don’t know if we can ‘have it all’, but I’m really trying.”
Angi’s advice for young women looking to achieve the same kind of success that she has? “I would beg them to ASK for what they really want. I feel like we are conditioned from little girls to always be sweet, agreeable, and not rock the boat. We learn to be supportive and put our needs behind everyone else. This needs to stop with our generation,” she says. “I had the #1 morning show in market #3 on KISS-FM and could’ve very easily sat there for the rest of my career hoping someone would come along and offer me more, but why would they? How would anyone in a position to make my dream come true have a crystal ball and know what I wanted? I wanted my OWN show in Chicago. As soon as I said it out loud, they said ‘OK!’ and I can’t believe I waited so long to ASK.”
“That cute little story about my internship and sliding into radio doesn’t happen anymore,” says Taylor. “I’m happy to mentor some great women in our industry, and I hope any radio woman who reads this gives a hand up to a girl who wants to grow up and be a radio star one day. There weren’t many in this job when I was coming up, but I promise we all want more women in radio and especially in executive positions. Thank God for Thea Mitchem, Ellen K, Mercedes, Angie Martinez, Angela Yee, Jayde Donovan, Roula, Geena the Latina, Nina G, etc.–where would we be without you?”
I asked Angi for one sentence to describe 2020. I think we can all agree with her. “Can I curse?” She asks before she answers. “ABSOLUTE F*CKING SH*T SHOW! #VOTE!” “AMEN sister!” I reply. COVID-19 is a huge part of the reason this year sucks. “Whew. I’ve watched so many people I love get furloughed and lose their jobs. Yesterday I found out someone in my high school class died from the coronavirus at 45 with no pre-existing conditions. I don’t even feel comfortable talking about my own issues. WEAR A MASK!”
The pandemic has certainly highlighted a topic Angi is passionate about. I am referring to Mental Health. But it’s not the only reason she works with multiple organizations to bring awareness to the issue. “I’m a product of childhood abuse,” she says. “The resulting drug/alcohol addictions, anxiety, PTSD, depression, OCD, ADD, and all the manifestations of early life is still a battle that I don’t think I’ll ever overcome, BUT I’ve learned to manage it and to speak about it. I work with both national and local charities to spread awareness and speak to my city about erasing the stigma and seeking help.”
What keeps Angi up at night? “Endless episodes of ‘90 Day Fiancé. Wine. Work. My neighbors doing Mexican karaoke every night and not inviting me. You know, same as everyone.” And what brings her balance? “Meditation. I used to be a mega-athlete and that was a nice balance for stress. I need to get back to it. Life is hard right now and I am trying not to put more pressure on myself. We are all in survival mode right now, but I meditate every night before bed just to stop the thoughts in my brain. I love the Calm app, but last night I tried the Scotty Pippen meditation and it just made me laugh so I switched to the Harry Styles meditation (it’s really soothing).”
Moving forward, a “lighter mood” is Angi’s biggest priority. “I’m really trying for a few hours every day to make us forget what we’re all going through, but even before the pandemic, this has always been my goal.”
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