Charese Fruge’ Talks To Carlota

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on October 26th, 2021 

She spent the last 18 years of her radio career at KOMP (92.3FM)/Las Vegas. After being let go from KOMP in 2020 due to financial issues caused by the pandemic, Carlota re-invented herself, and has just landed a dream job as the midday host for, KRXQ (98 Rock)/Sacramento, which she started this week.

The reason Carlota got into the radio business in the first place is simple, “A radio DJ made me laugh so hard one day that I made it my mission to be the voice that came out of the box in the car,” she says. “There was a point in my life where I was flailing away, working as a medical biller in Newport Beach, when I was told by the mail sorter that he was in broadcast school in Huntington Beach. The next day I enrolled into the Academy of Radio Broadcasting. My first official radio job was at K100/Porterville, Ca, I then moved on to KKDJ/Fresno, then New Rock 104, and finally, to the station which allowed me to get to Vegas, KRZR. It was a pivotal station for me, because it is where I truly found myself as a jock (thanks to E Curtis Johnson asking me ‘are you holding back on me?’) Then I was able to bring that to comfort level to KXTE ( Xtreme Radio)/Las Vegas. My final stop in Vegas was KOMP,” says Carlota.

So far, it’s been a very rewarding career for her. “I feel that maintaining strong connections with my audience to the point of them feeling that I’m a close friend is huge. As an on-air talent, connection is everything, and the ultimate goal,” says Carlota. As far as challenges go, “That’s a tough one because I feel like I’ve been so blessed for so long. I think maybe my biggest challenge was feeling stunted at one point in my career, feeling as if I was no longer growing and that was very hard on my soul. So, I created Kilpop Radio, now a commercial free music app, as a deeper way to express what was inside me and to give my creative juices somewhere to flow.”

Carlota is one of the few women in the industry who had the opportunity to dabble in programming. She was interested in it, so she took on the challenging of learning. “I got some training at KOMP under John Griffin who is an amazing PD, and recently, during my downtime, I was programming Kilpop Radio. I enjoy all aspects of the job of programming radio; promotions, music, creating ideas with jocks and sales, I’m just not sure about the part of being a parent to a staff. That looks tough,” she says. But since she’s got some skin in the game, I asked her what we as an industry could do to encourage more women to stick it out and get involved in programming. “I think the powers that be need to be more open minded about it,” says Carlota. “I don’t think we need to encourage women because they already want it, I know I did. Minds have to be changed and I’m not sure how we can accomplish that.”

Sadly, that’s a valid point. So, I asked Carlota if she thought that there is anything that we can do to improve the reputation of the industry since it has recently taken a hit due to consolidation, discrimination, budget cuts, talent cuts, etc. It’s brutal, and not just because of the pandemic. “It starts with us, because we can only control ourselves, so having a positive attitude towards our industry, sharing that attitude, not talking bad about ‘us’ is a start,” says Carlota. “When people ask me about the industry, I only share the good stuff and do my best to debunk the bad.”

“Wow! Huge question!” Carlota says, when I asked how the pandemic had changed her life personally and professionally. “It changed EVERYTHING in my life. First, of course, was being a line item delete at KOMP after 18 years. That in itself was like a marriage ending,” she says. “Then I floated in a pool for months and didn’t listen to music of any kind. I cleansed completely. I honestly thought my career of thirty years as I knew it was over. I moved on to other things like selling PPE and Gold in the commodities world. (That’s a movie waiting to happen, by the way).

Then, I, with my Kilpop partners launched Kilpop Radio,” Carlota explains. “The day that happened, I became sicker than I ever have in my life and spent the next 10 days in the hospital with pneumonia, blood clot in my lung and sepsis (Rona is no joke kids),” says Carlota. “And then the call from Vince Richards about 98 Rock came… This past year has changed me in so many ways. I felt loss, death (almost), freedom (lots of that), and now renewal. And most of all summer of 2020 will forever remain in my heart as one of the greatest summers of all time. Strange I know, but true. As far as an ‘A-HA” moment, I think when you almost die, you have that moment of ‘A-HA!!! I wanna fucking live!!’

And now after a year off, my priority is making sure I still have ‘it’ so I can ‘kill it’ for Sacramento,” says Carlota. As far as what keeps her up at night. “These days– hormones,” she says. But she does have a good recipe for balance: “A one-on-one hug from my dog Betty, and a good float in the pool.”

What’s ahead for Carlota? “I look forward to the journey ahead of me,” she says, “and the opportunity to do radio again and grow with Audacy, and FINALLY work with Vince Richards!!.”

Carlota can be heard on 98 Rock Monday-Friday from 10a to 3p (PT).

Follow Carlota on Facebook and Carlota en La Casa on Instagram