Charese Fruge’ Talks To Jackie Green

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on November 30, 2021 

She’s a wife and mom, one half of the “The Gray & Green Show” on Grand Rapid’s WHTS (105.3 Hot FM), and now she’s Mrs. America. Jackie Green definitely has her shit together. I had been watching the progress of the Mrs. America Pageant last week because it was here in Vegas. I think the entire radio community was watching the experience which she cataloged on Instagram. I know I wasn’t the only one who got the chills when I saw the picture of her being crowned Mrs. America. What an awesome win for her, and for women working in a predominately male industry.

The reason I say she has her shit together is because I asked her to do this feature three days after she won the Mrs. America title, thinking I’d get a response after she returned home and settled in again. She literally responded right away, and about an hour after I sent her the questions, she answered them all with fantastic content. I thought to myself, with everything she has going on, where did she find the time to fit this into her schedule, and how did she manage to do it with such great attention to detail?

Jackie Green got into the radio business in 2009. “I started when I interned at the ‘Free Beer & Hot Wings Show,’ she says. “From there I started nights on 97.9 WGRD before transitioning to middays. In 2014, I left Townsquare Media for Tribune Media (now Sinclair) to work for FOX17 Morning News as a feature reporter. In 2016 after the birth of my daughter I accepted the afternoon position with Cumulus Media on 105.3 HOT-FM. In 2019 I joined Rachael Gray on morning drive, and we now host “The Gray & Green Show,” the only 2-woman morning radio show in West Michigan,” says Green. “Outside of my work on the morning show I also host middays on 97 LAV. My background is in rock, and I love the format.

I have always loved radio since I was a kid, and in college I discovered that my gift of gab could be useful. When I started my internship, I knew that morning radio was the dream for me,” Green says. “When interning for ‘Free Beer & Hot Wings,’ Gregg (Free Beer) got me into podcasting and even aired a very poorly constructed podcast I did off his syndicated podcast every Friday, just to help me get some exposure. The program director at 97.9 WGRD coincidentally lost a weekend jock and the position fell in my lap. From there I just made sure to always be around and to be in EVERYONE’S newsfeed on social media until I got a full-time gig on GRD.”

Pageantry has been in Jackie’s life since she was fourteen. “I always loved the glamour of them and being on stage, but I wasn’t particularly poised or good at them. I made a ton of friends doing them and I truly credit my public speaking skills and interview skills to my years in pageantry. It took me a long time to win my first title and even then, I took home runner-up far more often than the crown,” she says. So, I asked Jackie what she was thinking 30 seconds before Las Vegas’ 98.5 KLUC Host Chet Buchanan called out her name as Mrs. America this time. “I was thinking, ‘Wow you got first runner up again, this has to be a record for the amount of first runner ups one person can rack up.” she says. To our delight, she took home the title.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say my favorite part about the competition wasn’t winning,” says Green. “But aside from that my favorite part was meeting all the different women from around the country. I heard some amazing stories from women who have overcome tremendous obstacles and achieved some really great things for their communities. And Vegas is always a good time! I love checking out the Elvis suite at the historic Westgate Hotel, and getting away from the cold Michigan weather didn’t hurt either.”

Aside from being crowned Mrs. America, Jackie has accomplished a great deal in her career as well. “I am most proud of the morning show with Rachael Gray,” she says. “We managed to receive a ‘Michigan Association of Broadcasters’ award for ‘Best Morning Show team or Duo’ our first year on air. We are very close friends on and off the air and our show definitely showcases female friendships and how powerful they can be while also showing how important they are.”

Reaching Jackie’s level of success in the radio business hasn’t always been a walk in the park though. “As a pageant competitor I would say I struggled with being taken seriously sometimes,” Green explains. “I have worked with a lot of fantastic men and women, but I also worked with some who merely wanted me to be a pretty face on a male dominated format. Sadly, I was somewhat naive to this in the beginning, but I’ve managed to keep pushing at what I believe in and what I know I am good at to make a career out of this.” Her advice to women who want to do the same: “Don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind. You can get the latest in pop culture anywhere, but what YOU have to say matters and only YOU can say it.”

What keeps Jackie up at night? “What doesn’t?” She asks. “But really, I keep myself way too busy between running marathons for charity, being a mom to a very busy 5-year-old, competing in pageants, and of course work, so I feel like I’m always half awake.” She does manage to find balance between it all; however. “It’s a juggling act for sure but communication with my husband is huge and honestly there’s 24 hours in a day, I can find one hour to run and one hour to plan my pageant stuff, I still have 22 hours for everything else!”

In 2022, As Mrs. America, Jackie will be competing at the Mrs. World pageant in January against women from around the globe! We will all be watching and cheering her along as it happens. As for radio, “Rachael and I always have a ton of fun stuff up our sleeve for the show so you never know what we will be coming up with next,” she says.

Follow Jackie Green on Instagram @JackieOnAir and you can find the “Gray & Green Show” on Instagram, Facebook and anywhere you get your podcasts.