Charese Fruge Talks To Dani D
This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on February 8, 2021
As one of many who have been impacted by downsizing in the industry, Dani D has proven to be a survivor, and has bounced back like a Champ! After being let go from Hot 96.3 in Indianapolis, last year, she moved back home to Chicago and was hired in late 2020 by iHeartMedia, where she can currently be heard on weekends and fill in on 102.7, V103 and 107.5 WGCI. “I can also be heard nationally in cities like Norfolk, Atlanta, Memphis, and more,” she says. “I also voice imaging, commercials, and assist with production. Off air, I am responsible for engaging with listeners on social media, station websites, and so much more! Radio does not stop at the end of an on-air shift!”
According to Dani, there was never a question as to what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I literally worked my way from the bottom up! As a small child, I knew I wanted to be on the radio and/or TV,” she says. “I graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a Bachelor of Arts in Radio-Television. During my time there, I had a radio show along with other responsibilities at the student run station, WIDB. I also interned and was on the street team at WCIL in Southern Illinois.”
“During the summer before my senior year, I interned at Power 92 in Chicago,” says Dani. “After graduating, I was hired as a Board Operator at Crawford Broadcasting which includes Power 92. After less than a year as a board op, I gained weekend on-air shifts at Power 92. Later I received an opportunity and was hired at iHeartMedia Chicago gaining weekend shifts on WGCI.”
“Two years later, I moved to Indianapolis, IN after being hired to do afternoons on Hot 96.3. That was my first full time on-air shift, and I held the position for 3 years,” she says. “After Hot 96.3, I went on to do voice imaging for Pandora and SiriusXM leading me to sign with Benztown doing voiceovers for many commercials and spots nationally. I moved back home and was hired back at iHeartMedia Chicago at the end of 2020.”
Despite the ups and downs, Dani’s radio journey has been an exciting one for her. “I’m most proud of having number 1 ratings at Hot 96.3! I dominated a time slot in a city that I was not from. That meant a lot to me. I built a real relationship with my listeners, and they loved me just as much as I loved them. Another accomplishment is just my constant growth in this industry. I am proud of that too!” She says.
“Hosting concerts onstage at THEE United Center, signing my name on a dressing room wall at The Chicago Theatre, having meaningful conversations with influential celebrities and public figures, as well as meeting and being out and about with my listeners has been truly exciting for me,” she says. “I cannot forget about getting the chance to meet and work with radio personalities that I grew up listening to. I am still in awe to this day!”
Like most, last year was quite a roadblock for Dani. “The most challenging experience during my radio career was being impacted by the industry’s downsizing in 2020,” she says. “I was off air for 10 months on top of the pandemic after being let go from Hot 96.3. But it also turned out to be one of the best learning experiences because it made me stronger, and I gained many new opportunities during that time. I’m a firm believer of everything happening for a reason and trusting God.”
As someone who has recovered from the impact of the downsizing, and well on her way to more success, Dani has encouraging words for those who continue to struggle. “Use the downtime to truly get to know yourself outside of radio. Enjoy it. Continue working on YOUR brand. You are ‘a somebody’ outside of station call letters and this is not the end,” she says. She also suggests finding a mentor. “Encouraging words and guidance from those that I look up to has always meant a lot to me. I am partly where I am today because of ‘who I know.’ I proved myself and they put in good words for me which opened doors of opportunity. Mentoring is very important in this business and I work to be here for others, the same way that people are here for me.”
The bright side of 2020 and the pandemic, for everyone, is binge watching TV. Dani is no different. “Yes, I have had PLENTY of downtime and I binge watch almost everything…The Wire, The Crown, Bridgerton, Snowfall, and TWENTIES just to name a few! I also cook more than ever trying new recipes.”
She’s a Virgo, so everything keeps her up at night (I can relate). She’s always thinking about what’s next, she says. But God, prayer and her family keep her balanced.
As for what we have to look forward to from Dani, “You’ll hear my voice on more stations in more cities from on-air, to imaging, and commercials,” she says. “I’m hopeful for future opportunities while living in the moment!”
Follow Dani D on Instagram @danidonair and Twitter @danidonair