Charese Fruge’ Talks To Denise Plante
This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on May 4, 2021
She started in radio when she was 19 in Lake Havasu City, AZ. Now after 28 years in the radio and television business, Denise Plante is currently the Midday Personality at iHeartMedia’s 106.7 The Bull in Denver, an Emmy Winner and a wife and mother of two boys.
It all started for Denise at a Top 40 station which gave her the chance to push buttons for Rick Dees Weekly Countdown. “When evenings opened up, I asked for the opportunity and the PD/Owner/morning show host (yes it was a small market) gave me a chance,” she says. “I moved into afternoons after about 6 months and learned how important personality radio is to establish a name in the market and grow. While hosting afternoons, I was able to work with MTV when they came to Lake Havasu for Spring Break. That was my first break into television. I realized then combining radio and television was something I wanted to pursue, and it would create a unique platform for me as a media personality,” says Plante.
“I later moved to a Country station to host a morning show for about 2 years and then made the move to Phoenix so my husband could accept a job. I worked part time at KMLE Country until we decided to move to Colorado where my husband is from,” Denise explains. “Ron Harrell from KIMN gave me my first job in Denver, it was evenings. I eventually moved into middays at KIMN, and they switched the station to Mix 100.3. After I got pregnant with my first son in 1999, I decided to quit work and stay home with my son. I loved it, but realized I missed radio,” she says. “After about a year and a half, I accepted a job at Alice 105.9 for afternoons and worked there for 3 years.
In 2003 I had my second son and decided KOSI 101.1, sister station to Alice 105.9, was a better fit for me. I moved to middays, hosted that show for about 1 year and combined my radio career with television again,” says Plante. “I launched Colorado and Company on KUSA/NBC in Sept 2003. After about a year in middays at KOSI, I moved into mornings where I hosted for 10 years,” says Plante.
“Almost 3 years ago I was offered a position to host middays at 106.7 The Bull KWBL by Jojo Turnbeaugh. I was thrilled to be back in country music again. I also picked up a national television gig as a contributor to Daily Blast Live,” says Plante. “After hosting Colorado and Company on NBC for 15 years and picking up CBA and Emmy awards for my work in television, I decided it was time to focus on just radio again. Instead of juggling 3 jobs, I am now enjoying the focus I can give to radio and my show.”
It takes a leap of faith, and a certain amount of courage to hustle for that first gig in radio, but Denise dove right in. “After graduating high school, I made an appointment with the owner, PD and morning show host of Hot 101 in Lake Havasu City, AZ. I told him my goal was to become a radio jock and was hoping to intern and learn,” she says. “He didn’t have anything open at the time, so I moved to Vegas to attend UNLV. While on break I came home to visit family. The owner of the radio station contacted me and offered me a position to push buttons for the Rick Dees Top 40 countdown. I immediately accepted and tried to learn everything possible. I even worked part-time in sales so I could understand the entire business,” says Plante.
The hard work and focus have certainly paid off for Denise, she’s had an exciting career so far. “Working and being successful in one city, Denver, for over 20 years is quite an accomplishment!” She says. “I’ve won Colorado Broadcaster Awards for every daypart, best personality, CBA for TV reporting and nominated for 4 Emmys and won one for hosting Colorado and Company. I also take a lot of pride for awards I’ve received from helping many nonprofits in our community,” she adds.
“In 2019 I was invited to host a stage at CMA Fest in Nashville and help the CMA Foundation, and that was a thrill for me!” Says Plante. “Some of my most exciting interviews were with Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Jimmy Fallon, Jamie Foxx and working the red carpet at a Will Smith movie premiere. I’ve also had the opportunity to fly to New York and Los Angeles for many interviews with actors for both television and radio. Working with MTV was an amazing adventure that opened many doors for me.”
Balancing a family and a career in both radio and television isn’t an easy thing to do. It comes with its challenges. “The biggest in my life was when my youngest son was hospitalized, put on a feeding tube and stomach pump for accidentally swallowing those tiny earth magnets,” Plante explains. “It was a toy we bought him for Christmas, having no idea that only two of those magnets could kill you if swallowed. They were advertised to children and did not have a warning label. I decided to post an x-ray to warn other parents to throw them away so their children wouldn’t experience the same, my son had 3 surgeries and could have died,” she says.
“After I posted the x-ray on Facebook, it went viral all over the world and media was contacting me, but also the trolls that would blog about how I should have my children taken away. They claimed I worked too much and was a horrible mother. I almost had a nervous breakdown,” says Plante. “Once I knew my son was safe and home, I addressed it on radio and television. People can be so horrible, but there were also a lot of parents that thanked me for bringing awareness. They also had them (the magnets) at home and threw them out immediately.”
The pandemic was a bit of a challenge for Denise and her family as well, but she stayed focused. “2020 was a tough and unique year for all. I was lucky enough to continue working from my home studio. iHeart was extremely supportive and did their best to keep everyone afloat,” she says. “I look at the blessings of keeping a job and spending more time with family, but it was challenging mentally not being able to enjoy friends and distant family members that we normally would do on a regular basis. My family unfortunately got COVID last month, just a few days before I was getting vaccinated. But thankfully we are all healthy now.”
Denise’s pandemic-binge favorites: “I’m a big Bravo fan and love all of the Housewives, my goal is to meet Andy Cohen,” she says. “I love crime shows, Criminal Minds, Peaky Blinders and Dexter. I also watched Vikings, Ozark and now the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale just came out.”
Someone with Denise’s experience in the business understands how important mentoring is. “I’m always willing to give advice on what I’ve learned over the past 28 years in this business. I also have a couple different mentors in my life that have helped me understand, create, continue confidence and how to handle uncomfortable situations. One of those mentors is not in the radio business but has dealt with similar situations….my sister. We now host a fun pop culture podcast together called, ‘The Oh Sis Podcast with Denise and Stephanie,” she says. “Another great lady that I have turned to is Charese Fruge’ (Yes, I paid her to say that). Being in the business for many years, her bucket is plenty full of experiences and she has offered me great advice (Thank you for the kind words). I encourage every woman or man to become a mentee or have a mentor in their life, it helps tremendously.”
What keeps Denise up at night? “If you don’t have your health or happiness, nothing else in life matters. I try and keep things in perspective, but of course my two boys and work always give me something to think about,” she says. She does find a way to keep the balance; however. “I really enjoy my silly podcast with my sister, we have a lot of fun together. I also try and get in a 30-minute walk at least 5 days a week and you will always find me singing karaoke or recording a TikTok video to embarrass my kids someplace in my house, says Plante. “I have also been with my husband Mike since the beginning of my career at the age of 19. He has not only encouraged all my goals, but he has helped me juggle it all. I’m also very spiritual, so I pray and put my faith in God,” she says.
As for what we have to look forward to from Denise, “Hopefully I will continue to grow with iHeart,” she says. “I love learning new things and having new challenges. I may also dip my toe back into television. Oh, I’m also trying to lose at least half of my booty, so watch out for that!”
Follow Denise Plante on Facebook and on Instagram & Twitter @Deniseplantedenver