Charese Fruge talks to Jennifer Markham

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on February 12, 2020

Her hair and nails are always perfect, and they always sparkle or shine. You never know what color (or colors) you are going to get, but that’s the best part of Jennifer Markham’s personality–always colorful and a constant ray of sunshine. As a single mom and airborne breaking news/traffic reporter in San Diego, I often wonder how she does it all. Her office is a Bell 206 Jet Ranger Helicopter. She’s extremely detailed and precise, while at the same time, she is one of the most creative people I know. She’s so organized that when I sent her a list of questions for this column, she basically wrote it for me. She did all the work. So I’ll let her tell you her story.

“‘Now back to you,’ is what I like to say to wrap things up. It’s concise. Caring. It works well for my job and for life because in my experience, it’s ultimately about listening, learning, sharing and growing. After being in the broadcast industry for close to 20 years, you listen to many people, learn a thing or two, share a lot and grow exponentially. From my stint as a radio show host, to my time as a show producer, to my current role as an airborne breaking news/traffic reporter and single mom of a teen aged daughter, I’ve learned when things don’t go according to plan, try not to focus too much on what’s happened — it’s more about how well you recover. Life lessons.”

“Everything in broadcasting is fleeting, the industry is fickle these days, and you need to develop a thick skin. That’s the take-away here. Have thick skin. Some will love you. Others won’t. Here today — gone tomorrow. It’s a numbers game. And, it’s arbitrary. Your look. Your size. Your voice. Your laugh. Because of this, often people will ask: Is it tough being a woman in particular in the broadcasting industry? Having to look like you have it all together? I’m not going to lie, yes, it’s hard. And a lot of the time it’s all smoke and mirrors. But, like Lizzo says, ‘Hair toss. Check my nails. Baby, how you feelin?’ Feeling good as hell!’”

“Over the years, it’s helped that I’ve had great co-workers and bosses who were strong, supportive females; women who I admire, look up to and still keep in contact with. They taught me it’s okay to be both sensitive AND strong. They encouraged me to speak up and speak out. In my airborne career I’ve had opportunities to fly with an all-girl team. The pilot. Everyone. Now THAT was empowering. Still, with this industry, you have to hit the ground running both personally and professionally — hair and nails in check or not.”

“My morning starts with the alarm going off at 4a and into work by 5a. We don’t have to be on camera in the chopper with our set up (just our voices), so that affords me a little more sleep! Getting up before Starbucks is even open — not my fave, but what I DO love about my job is that no two days are the same. You never know what’s going to be breaking in the news or traffic department. Some stories are serious, and some not so much. One of my favorites was watching a woman driving north up the 805 through Mission Valley. She was going about 40 mph and throwing men’s clothing out the window as she drove! Don’t know if she was cited for anything but sure gave us a good laugh.”

“Some of the more serious stories we cover are the wildfires. That’s scary. You’re in a chopper at close to 8,000 feet in the air (sometimes higher) watching the destruction down below. The best you can do is provide up-to-the-minute, accurate details to try to keep everyone as safe as possible and well informed. Other times, the news takes an even more somber turn. The recent helicopter crash, for example, which claimed nine lives, including that of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Being based in San Diego, I didn’t cover that story myself, but wow, it really hit home. Helicopter. Daughter. Shook me up on multiple levels and yeah, it made me think about what I do for a living. But, let me tell you something… At the end of the day… Er, at the beginning of the day, when I see that sunrise over downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bridge in the shot, I realize I’m one lucky GIRL with the very best seat in the house.”

“I’m Jennifer Markham and that’s the latest from San Diego, now back to you.”

Follow Jennifer on Instagram @bottleblondegurl and Twitter @jennifermarkham