Charese Fruge’ (@MCMediaonline) Talks To Janda Lane

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on November 9, 2021 

Janda Lane started in radio while in college in her hometown of Charlotte, NC, interning at WRFX. When WEND signed on, PD Jack Daniel gave her the first real shot at an air shift. From there she went to WAVF/Charleston where she was music director and 7-midnight host, then she moved to Seattle and worked for Sub Pop Records while doing air shifts at KNDD. Mark Goodman (one of the original VJ’s on MTV, now at Sirius XM) later hired Janda at Soundbreak, an online music station in Los Angeles in 2000. She was also on-air at KCRW/Los Angeles for several years while working in rock management at Silva Artist Management, at Rhino Records, at Yahoo, and finally at Fender as a video director. And finally, Rob Cressman, whom she worked with at WAVF/Charleston, hired her to co-host afternoons and handle music programming in Chicago at WDRV (97.1 The Drive), in 2018.

Janda currently co-hosts afternoon drive on WDRV with Steve Seaver, who has been an on-air personality in Chicago for 30 years. She also has several other responsibilities. “My podcast, “Behind the Song,” was launched in 2018. It is a deep dive into classic rock song lyrics, and I publish a new episode every two weeks,” she says. “’Behind The Song’ was nominated for a Marconi award, and it is consistently in the Top 10 on the Apple Podcast Music History chart. Last year, we launched a YouTube channel for the podcast, and we landed our first sponsorship earlier this year. I’m very proud of how it has grown, and besides my on-air and programming duties, this is the thing I concentrate on the most. I love the possibilities in the podcast space, and I love the work.”

Janda was always fascinated by the voices she heard on the radio growing up. That’s what made her want to get into the business. “I started making my own ‘radio stations’ on cassettes as a kid,” she says. “I’ll always be fascinated by people who can create a real theater of the mind experience, connecting with an audience. I respect it and am grateful to have a chance to try my hand at it every day.” When I asked her how it all started for her, she said, “I showed up and wouldn’t leave.”

Janda is extremely grateful that her career path brought her back to radio after leaving the business for a while to direct videos. “It’s one of my biggest accomplishments,” she says. “For that, I have to thank Rob Cressman, who never once in almost 20 years of knowing him failed to let me know that I was foremost an air talent and that he thought that I belonged on the air above all else,” says Lane. “The other accomplishment from my career I’m really proud of is the Marconi nomination for ‘Behind the Song.’ That recognition made me feel that I was heading in the right direction with the podcast.”

With all her current responsibilities, Janda stays very busy. “These days, my constant challenge is about making sure I’m managing my time efficiently. I think that’s the case for everyone doing day to day radio right now,” she says. “There is never enough time! I use Google’s organization apps (Drive, Calendar) to help with that. And I stick to a time limit on social media, because while it’s important to be social and connect with listeners that way, it can easily become unmanageable when you’re posting daily on multiple platforms.”

As a music programmer, Janda has a great perspective on how we should encourage more women in the industry to pick up this role in programming. “I think it begins with recognizing skill and allowing women the opportunity to take on bigger roles at the station as those skills become evident,” she says. “If a woman has real skill in an area that can benefit the station, be it sales or video development or social media or marketing, give her the chance to flex those skills, even if they’re outside of her current role. Make room for it.”

As for the current state of the industry and the “perception” of it right now, Janda has great insight on improving Radio’s reputation. “I think the more we embrace how our listeners consume radio, the better off we’ll be,” she says. “We have more competition now than ever for listenership from other forms of media, and we have to roll with the changes and continue to invest in ways to reach people. And I think we do our best work when we’re focusing on our own communities,” says Lane. “No one can speak to something that’s happening in any given city or town better than the people who actually live in it. ‘Live and local’ is so important because it builds trust from listeners who come to us for their entertainment, news, sports, and so on. Listen to the listeners.”

Speaking of the changes in radio consumption, Janda says the pandemic has had a major impact on that. “The pandemic has changed us all, and it continues to be a teacher,” she says. “We’ve seen the impact it has had on traditional drive time with less people commuting in cars and more people working from home. I think that has created a bigger focus on listening through streaming apps and devices. We as an industry need to fully embrace the fact that people listen more through their phones and streaming devices now, and our ratings system should really reflect that as well.”

While Janda’s schedule is pretty tight, she manages to find time for balance in her life. “When the weather is good, I like to ride the Lake Shore bike path along Lake Michigan,” she says. “It’s one of the many things that makes Chicago an amazing city to live in. And I always have about 5 or 6 TV shows that I’m watching. We live in the golden era of television and I’m here for it,” says Lane. And while her “to-do list” is what keeps her up at night, she remains grounded thanks to her husband Christian, her cats Ollie and Liam, and her friends and extended family.

Professionally, her goals are to keep producing great content ideas not only for her show on WDRV, but also for her Marconi nominated Podcast, “Behind the Song.”

Keep track of Janda on Facebook and Instagram: @jandalaneradio, Facebook (Seaver & Janda Show): @SeaverandJanda, Twitter and TikTok: @jandalane, Behind the Song TikTok: @behindthesongpodcast, and Behind the Song YouTube channel.