Charese Fruge’ Talks To CoCo Dominguez
This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on March 03, 2020
Hurricanes, floods, and surviving the goat milking contest at the Houston Rodeo are just a few of the challenges CoCo Dominguez has overcome in her 20 year broadcasting career. It’s been difficult to lock her down this week, as the biggest event of the year for all Houstonians kicks off. If you know anything about the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo, you know it’s a month long celebration of food, music, livestock, culture, heart attack on a stick and so much more. Anyone involved in the media makes the month long commitment to compete in every indulgent contest possible, and while sadly CoCo has never taken home the goat milking trophy, she has mastered the Celebrity Rib Eating contest at Luther’s BBQ at least once. “I ate more ribs than any female radio or television broadcaster in the contest to do it,” she says. “And I got a big ass trophy with pigs on the side to prove it!”
That’s CoCo! The spicy Cuban/Mexican Houston native and mother of two is one of the most adored personalities in the market. She’s a bilingual air talent for both radio and television and currently works full time as a feature reporter for KRIV-Fox 26 in H town. I’ve known CoCo since 2015 when we worked in Houston radio together and to this day she still has one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever heard. I always knew when CoCo was in the building because I could hear her laughter coming from down the hallway. She’s a breath of fresh air.
CoCo started in Houston radio in 2000 doing middays on Univision’s House Party 100.7, then moved to co-hosting the morning show on Party 104.9. She later headed to California to do middays in San Francisco and San Jose at Univision’s La Kalle, Latin Urban bilingual station for 3 years. After that, she moved back to Houston and began hosting afternoons for CBS Radio’s KKHH (Hot 95.7) and weekends for Spanish/Pop sister station KLOL (Mega 101). In 2016, when KKHH flipped formats, she made the move to television full time.
The transition from radio to television was somewhat smooth according to Dominguez. “At least as far as the live element goes. But there’s a lot more detail to appearance because I didn’t just have listeners anymore, I had viewers too. Also in radio you were predominantly in the studio so the artists usually came to you. In TV you are on a constant hunt to get the feature and or story for the day.”
One of CoCo’s biggest achievements was being on radio and television simultaneously in English and Spanish. “I’ll never forget; however, being scheduled for Hot 95.7 and Mega 101 for the same exact 3p to 7p shift when I worked part time. We didn’t realize it until the last minute,” says Dominguez. “Both studios were on the same floor so for hours I kept my headphones around my neck going back and forth from studio to studio, doing hourly prize giveaways in two different languages and hosting two different shows. I had to write the station name and prize on paper in each studio to make it work. Apparently it did because I didn’t mess it up!”
With over 36% of the Houston population being Hispanic, it’s critical to be able to communicate with the people who are so entrenched in the community and have brought so much to the culture of the city. “It’s very important to me,” states Dominguez. “I like to be able to speak to the viewers and listeners in the language that makes them feel comfortable. Also in Houston, with bilingual radio, you have to be able to translate a sentence, but make sure that both languages understand what you are saying at the same time.”
One of CoCo’s biggest challenges in her career was creating her own lane in television with no communications/journalism degree and no knowledge of how to use the equipment. That didn’t stop her though. “Within a year and a half, I learned to shoot and edit my own stories, while continuing to solidify my reporting. I had to put all fears aside and continue to learn as much and as quickly as I possibly could,” says Dominguez. “That’s why it’s so important to mentor young women in the business these days. I want them to understand that this is by no means easy. People see the interviews I get and the pictures I post with celebrities, but I want them to know it’s been 20 years of hard work to build those contacts and relationships and to make sure I put out good work.”
From the time I met CoCo to the present day, I have basically watched her re-invent herself and catapult her career without any official schooling or training. It was a big wake up call for her though. “While it was fun doing part time TV (I also did TV while I was on the radio during the last year), I had to get serious when I went full time,” says Dominguez. “My mentality was that I had no other option but to learn to do it. I was being given an opportunity of a lifetime with Fox 26 creating a position for me. I had to run with it. So I showed up and showed out and I continue to learn every day.”
Another current challenge for CoCo is being the eyes of the city when Houston is hit by a hurricane or the devastating flooding the city continues to undergo. “I’m from Houston, so I’ve experienced it myself as a resident here. When I began to do traffic reports for KRIV-Fox 26, I became the eyes of the city helping Houstonians maneuver through the highways in dangerous weather conditions. It’s a different feeling, I go in to survival mode to help others survive with accurate information for them to make decisions about traveling on the roads. Bad weather is a top priority for my team and I. We want to make sure the viewer is fully informed and knowledgeable of what’s going on.”
That’s a lot of pressure for one person to have on their shoulders. I can understand her feelings, having been a resident of Houston myself and losing everything I own in the floods from Hurricane Harvey. And CoCo lost her own car in a flash flood when she had to abandon it on the street because you can literally turn a corner and be swept away by rushing flood waters and trapped in your vehicle with no help in site. That’s terrifying for anyone.
So what keeps CoCo Dominguez sane? “Being around my family and the sun,” she says. She’s got a 21 year old daughter and 12 year old son. What keeps her up at night? “Wondering if my kid really finished his homework and what my daughter is up to since she just recently moved out.” As for what’s next for CoCo? “Oh yea, that keeps me up at night too,” says Dominguez. “Thinking of my next big move, ways to take things to the next level. The more I have, the more I can give! I want to build on my brand… or go sell bracelets on the beach.”
Follow CoCo Dominguez on Facebook and on Instagram & Twitter @mscocodominguez