Charese Fruge’ Talks To AshMac

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on June 30, 2020

She grew up as a theater kid in Englewood, NJ, began her professional journey as an intern for Universal Republic Records before she graduated high school, and her last year in college, made a career jump to radio. AshMac graduated from THEE Norfolk State University which she says helped her grow in to the person she is today. “It gave me a platform. It’s where I realized I wanted a potential career change but still wanted to be in music,” she says. “In 2011, I began an internship at my school’s radio station, WNSB – Hot 91, and in 2012, Clear Channel, now iHeart Radio, WOWI-103 JAMZ gave me a chance as well. Clear Channel, gave me an internship opportunity where I learned everything from promotions, to sales, to digital, to production and programming.”

“In 2013, I was hired part time as a production/promotions assistant. That swiftly moved to full-time 3 months later, as I became a Promotions Coordinator/On-air talent,” says AshMac. “I was just hungry to get my foot in the door, even if that meant staying in an area that I didn’t have family in. I knew there was opportunity. From there I grew, and have been in multiple markets since then like Cincinnati at WIZF-101.1 The Wiz, and Columbus at WCKX – Power Columbus. I’m currently midday talent for Indianapolis, WHHH – Hot 96.3 and St. Louis, WHHL – Hot 104.1 with Radio One.”

Her passion for music is why she took the path in the industry that she did. “Growing up I took music lessons, acted in plays, in chorus, in sports, and I learned time management at an early age. Luckily a few things my parents put me in turned into passion,” she says. “Music turned more into something I truly enjoyed, and over time I tried different internships and opportunities until radio found me, and I knew I was there to stay.”

Some of her career highlights started as early as her college days. “I hosted the BET College Tour when they came to my school. I was lucky, I got to start early on my career thanks to my university, and that has paid off immensely,” she says. “I’ve also been able to be a part of major launches, like building the partnership with The MEAC Tournament Conference as a media partner, hosting national events with the National Urban League Convention, being featured in Essence for hosting their ‘She Got Now’ campaign and being featured on the nationally syndicated ‘Rickey Smiley Morning Show.’ And most recently I was featured on ‘The Mike & Donny Show’ on FOX Soul,” says AshMac. “Another big moment for me was my show going #1 in Middays! Everyone talks about how hard the midday shift is, but in that moment I showed myself it could be done!”

Some of her biggest challenges in the business so far? “Alexa! Play Beyonce, ‘Flaws and All!’” says AshMac. “Sometimes we get in our own way. For me, I overthink and I’m a perfectionist. There’s no such thing as perfection,” she says. “But I’m going to make sure to get as close to it as possible. This is a challenge, but something that has also helped me to get where I am today,” she says. “Failure helps you out too. I was told you haven’t made it in the radio business until you get let go or fired. I got let go from my first job, and it hurt me to the core. I was depressed. I was frustrated. It’s that moment of reflecting on how much you give to a place of employment, and thinking how did I equally pour that into myself? I didn’t. Yes, you put in work, but how did this work for you? I had to learn more balance,” she says. “So I went home to reflect, to heal, and to put a game plan together. I gave myself a deadline. Within six months I accepted a part-time job with Radio One in Cincinnati. Yes, part-time. Some risks you have to take and I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given and the insight I get from so many Program Directors that I have been able to cross paths with.”

With racial injustice and a worldwide pandemic at the forefront of our minds, AshMac approaches both situations with full transparency when it comes to her listeners. “It’s difficult because there are days–I don’t know how to feel and I share that,” she says. “Being relatable with honesty is how I’m getting through such unknown times. And when it comes to COVID-19, cases are steadily rising while the outside continues to open up,” she says. “We have to make the best decisions for ourselves at our own discretion, which is why I enjoy my platform because I am able to give my point of view on things and how the pandemic has affected my life and family,” says AshMac. “People are in recovery mode and it’s far from over. You won’t see me until at least September. But through all the changes, I am grateful I have still been able to go to and from work. I find peace and balance from doing my shows in the studio, going out for runs and enjoying nature.”

As for racial injustice, it’s not just about the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. It’s about the big picture, according to AshMac. “Let’s also make sure to include the murder of Dreasjon Reed, which happened in Indianapolis, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oluwatoyin Salau, and the many Black women as well, our family of the Black Trans community we know so little about,” says AshMac. “We’ve been using our voices. There have been powerful protests. Ones I’ve been able to take part in, and the protests across all 50 states. I believe it’s what called for a quicker response in charging the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd. It shows there is power in using your voice, especially when we’re all standing on the same side.”

“We as ‘Americans’ need to view everyone as that, American,” she says. “We need to know that a threat to any race is a threat to the human race, and stop choosing to be ignorant with racism and systemic racism that has been rooted so deeply in how society functions. Especially when it comes to how Black people have been treated for the last 400 years,” she says. “What needs to be done is we need to continue to educate ourselves, one another, practice empathy, and continue to use our voices.”

In addition, AshMac is passionate about the need and desire to encourage more women to join the radio business. “In 2020, more representation is still needed, especially in male dominated fields,” she says. “I want to tell women how important it is to continue to be authentically and unapologetically themselves. We always search and ask for advice, ‘How can I be better? What am I not doing? What would you tell me to do?’ when we already possess the power within us. Embrace you for who YOU are. That is our power. There is only one version of me and one version of you. We can’t live in fear of the criticism of others, when beauty and success are on the other side of that fear.”

Finding balance for AshMac is an important lesson she learned a long time ago as mentioned before. For her, it requires an outlet. “Mediation, prayer, and working out have helped me stay balanced during such unknown times… and by looking within,” she says. “This interview has even helped me, I’m grateful for this because it made me look at myself and say ‘Ok how are you truly doing this? How are you creating new goals?’ Writing helps me find balance too,” she says. “Discipline, and accountability makes things real and helps me create order in a time that is truly chaotic.”

So what’s ahead for AshMac? “All honor and glory goes to God for what I’ve been able to accomplish so far and what I’m about to shake tables with,” she says. “Be on the lookout for some amazing interviews! I just spoke to Chloe x Halle, and Neyo. I’m continuing to be creative in my love for music, I’m excited about what I’ve been working on personally, and always looking for ways to grow. I may be a voice talent in a cartoon someday. Who knows? A host for a music show/series? The possibilities are endless, and I’m not limiting myself,” she says. “So if you know anyone that’s looking for on air/camera/voice talent let me know.”

Follow her on Instagram & Twitter @ashmacgetsit