Charese Fruge Talks To Daena Kramer

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on March 17, 2020

“Are You Crazy?!” Was the first thing our Market Manager Jerry McKenna asked Daena Kramer (DK on air) when she told him she wanted to move from sales to on air full time. “You’re one of my top billers! Besides, do you realize what kind of a pay cut that looks like for you?” Thank goodness for her incredible sales skills, because she finally persuaded him to let her do it. For over two years she had been sitting in on the Dave and Mahoney Morning Show, on X107.5 in Las Vegas, working for free, while managing her very successful full time sales job. “It was exhausting! But worth it,” she says. “I told myself as long as they keep asking me to do the show, I’ll keep going on because I loved doing it. I was much happier on air because it provided the creative outlet that I craved,” says Kramer. “As a talent, understanding how the sales side works has helped me generate large amounts of additional revenue for my stations over the years.”

DK got her start in the business while bartending in Las Vegas. “True story!” she explains, “I had just graduated from college and a regular customer at the bar was the GM for CBS Radio at the time. He told me I needed to be selling radio so I applied for a job. I got the job in 2007 and it transitioned into an on air role less than 2 years later.”

After tremendous success in the Las Vegas market, the team moved to Houston in 2015 to host mornings on Mix 96.5, KHMX. In 2018 DK blazed her own trail and moved to the Bay Area where she was recruited by Alpha Media and tapped as General Sales Manager for their San Jose cluster. It didn’t take long for the radio gods to figure out where she really needed to be, and she got the call to do mornings at KITS, Alt 105.3 in San Francisco where she was one of the few solo female morning show hosts in the country.

In 2018 DK signed on to her current role as co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show “The 90’s with Alfonso Ribeiro,” which airs every weekend in over 30 markets across the country. Ribeiro is widely known for his role as Carlton on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and currently hosts “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” It’s a three hour show focused on 90’s music and culture. DK’s role is to add relatability and humor to the show while sharing stories of the ‘90’s mixed with current events and topical conversation. If you follow her on Twitter, you will understand why she’s the perfect person for this role. She is unapologetically honest, self-deprecating and funny. She is always the smartest person in the room when it comes to Sports, and she has a very unhealthy obsession with Costco, which in hindsight, probably worked in her favor this week.

One of the most exciting times in her career was hosting her own morning show in San Francisco. “It’s such an iconic station, it was surreal,” says DK. “The direct connection with my listeners lit a fire inside me that I’ve never experienced as a co-host.” At the same time, flying solo was also one of the bigger challenges for Daena in her career. “When my partner was fired and I was told I’d be on my own effective immediately, I wasn’t sure what to think initially. I’d never actually run a board myself or hosted solo and there I was in market #4 the very next day, figuring it out,” Kramer said. “I learned quickly that it’s not that hard. The board is easy. But learning how to execute topics and entertain the audience on my own was a process. I learned more about radio, hosting a morning show and what I was capable of in that last year than I had in my entire career previously.”

She added “I will say that on a singular level, while I was in San Francisco, taking the stage before MUSE played at Oakland Arena and talking to 20,000 fans before introducing the band was definitely a highlight. I’d done dozens of stage intros prior to that, but none had felt that big or had that insane energy.”

When she’s not hunkering down at home due to San Francisco’s order to shelter in place in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak (which came down as she was answering these questions), she’s passionate about supporting animal rescue organizations, spending time with her niece and nephews, her dog Bean Burrito, finding good shopping deals and bragging about them. When I said earlier that she has an unhealthy obsession with Costco, I was not kidding. In all the years I have worked with her and known her, any time I spoke to her outside of the office, she was at a Costco.

Her advice to young women looking to get in to the industry: “Learn how to do everything you can, even if it’s not your job, and don’t underestimate yourself. Check your ego at the door and support other women AND men. Be honest, be confident, work your butt off and never stop learning. There are a ton of women in this industry who would be more than happy to give you advice, guidance and encouragement, myself included. Don’t be afraid to ask!”

DK’s thoughts on where the industry is headed: “There are so many opinions on this, especially with the continued growth of streaming options and podcasts,” she says. “Radio will continue to be relevant as long as it’s still extremely accessible and continues to be a source of live and local content. You can’t get that in a podcast or streaming service. That said, many radio companies are focused on expanding their digital footprint, growing their online listening and producing podcasts and those are the keys to growth,” says Kramer. “With weekly reach of 94% of the country, it’s a solid advertising medium but the business is more multifaceted now with a variety of digital options as opposed to just selling a terrestrial signal and banner ads. To be blunt, if I didn’t truly believe in the power of radio I wouldn’t continue to pursue a career in the field.”

So what’s next for Daena Kramer? “While I am continuing to co-host the ‘90’s show with Alfonso every week, I’m on the hunt for my next home for morning radio. I’m having a lot of good conversations with programmers right now but I’m not quite sure where I’ll land next,” she says. It’s an odd time with the entire country seemingly at a halt with the coronavirus chaos. It’s also extremely difficult sitting on the side lines at a time like this when I wish I was on the air talking to my listeners. I’m eager to find a new team, immerse myself into that community and start having fun. That said, if you’re hiring shoot me an email!”

Follow DK on Twitter & Instagram @justkramer