Charese Fruge’ Talks To Jessica Rose

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on July 20, 2021 

She’s a cancer survivor, single mom and a Brand Ambassador for “Women in Radio.” Jessica Rose’s latest adventure also includes becoming the new co-host on “KC in The Morning” on KRAV (Mix 96.5)/Tulsa. She’s been there since early June and is working quickly to get to know her new partner, team and community. I have to be honest, Jessica Is the type that is so focused and passionate about the business, that she practically wrote this feature for me. So, you you’ll be getting most of her incredible story directly from her heart instead of from my commentary and input.

But I do want to start with her connection to “Women in Radio,” which is why she stood out to me as someone who would be great for this feature. After a past break from radio, she returned to her passion and was asked to be a Brand Ambassador for “Women in Radio (WIR),” a non-profit organization that uplifts and celebrates all women in our industry through open discussions, shared experiences, interviews, conferences, and much more. “Meaghan Taylor, the founder of WIR, has been such a light of encouragement and has trusted me to host live chats with several women from the industry on Instagram Live,” says Rose. “What is most impressive is every single person who contributes to the discussions does not hold back or hide their resources. The IG chats combined with the annual conferences are the playbook right in front of you and anyone ready to work for what they want is set!”

As for her new position with Mix 96.5, she says, “Joining KC Lupp, as his co-host, on KC in the Morning is the best decision I could have ever made for my love of radio. Without him even knowing it, he reminds me of what I enjoy about radio – work doesn’t feel like work, it’s fun and I’m getting paid for being myself. Partnering with KC means having input, sharing ideas, being heard, coming up with creative bits and benchmarks, and executing them without overthinking.”

And as she is starting from scratch in this new role, with completely new team members and a co-host she’s never worked with before, I asked Jessica for advice for anyone else learning to connect and fit in to a new situation. “This is a great question and there are some great answers in our Women in Radio live IG chats,” she says. “From my personal experiences: throw all expectations out the window, be yourself, and give yourself and your team an opportunity to breathe. Take them away from work, turn off the show, and have fun because those experiences will translate on the air. I know it can be a little challenging when you are coming onto a show where relationships are already established but read the room and go from there.”

Jessica’s love of radio began over years of being stuck in Los Angeles traffic. If you’ve ever driven in Los Angeles, you completely understand. “My love for radio was developed because of my mother and where we lived. I was born and raised in LA and anyone who knows big cities, knows we spend hours in the car. In the era I grew up in, our only option for entertainment was the radio. My favorite part of any day was riding shotgun with my mom and listening to the radio. I love music but it was the personalities that pulled me in. Voices like Casey Kasem, Rick Dees, Ellen K, Da Baka Boys, Theo, Nautica De La Cruz, PJ Butta, Delilah, and Big Boy always made me feel like I was in the room. I grew up loving to mimic commercials in the car and read billboards out loud. It was fun and I guess I was already preparing my voice.”

Jessica certainly has an interesting story when it comes to her career, so as I mentioned earlier, here’s the part where I let Jessica tell you how it all started for her. “While attending Mt. Sac in Walnut, CA, I started to take my prerequisites avoiding the one class I craved ‘Introduction to Broadcasting.’ I believe I let two semesters pass by before I was like, ‘why not?!’ Intro to Broadcasting was everything I prayed for in a learning environment taught by someone in the profession, no textbook required, hands-on, and fun. The class was taught by KFI news anchor Tammy Trujillo. On the first day of class, she got straight to the point, explaining exactly what to expect from the industry, how many hats one must wear, and realistically what it was going to take to get yourself wherever it is you wanted to be.

She asked each student where they saw themselves on TV/Radio. I shared that I wanted to be in the background and off the mic. After class she pulled me to the side and encouraged me to be in front of the mic and suggested I look into The Academy of Radio & TV Broadcasting in Huntington Beach, CA.

One day my mother and I toured the facility and I fell in love. I attended both schools and took advantage of what both programs had to offer. Tammy helped me get an internship with Radio Disney in Los Angeles where I worked as a member of the street team. During this time, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was fortunate enough to put everything on hold while I became a hermit and went through chemotherapy.

In late 2001, I went into remission and continued my studies at the broadcasting school while I interned for Virgin Records and worked on the KZLA street team. Graduation was approaching and my counselor at the academy connected me with Program Director Gary Springfield at KOLA in Redlands, CA. I went from one shift per weekend to overnights quickly and spent from 2002 to 2005 at KOLA, occasionally filling in for the daypart jocks.

In 2005, I was eager to get my own daypart and reminded myself of everything Tammy Trujillo, Manny Pacheco and the rest of the amazing staff at ARB taught me, which was to look beyond your home city. When the call from KDGS in Wichita, KS came I knew the Midwest would be different from the City of Angels and a little slow pace would do this West Coast girl some good.

Fast forward, in late 2008, I left my afternoon position at KOPW in Omaha, NE to bring my mother her only grandchild. Moving back to Cali was bittersweet, because I did not have a position secured but I got to spend the first year of my newborn son’s life with him and no demands of a career. Little did I know I would take an unintentional break from radio and start a new career in for-profit college admissions. It was an easy transition, because I was talking to prospective students about their dreams and aspirations. It came natural for me to speak with them authentically and guide them to reaching their goals.

During those nine years, not a single person connected to my life ever let me forget that I was on radio, and they constantly asked me why I wasn’t continuing with radio. I had my script down and would continue to recite it, but no one was buying it and one day my uncle stopped me in the middle of a sentence and said, ‘just go back to an introduction class.’ That sat with me privately and had me soul searching, there I was encouraging others to follow their dreams and I had left mine on the back burner.

So, I began to look for part-time positions in Las Vegas but there was nothing and that was to be expected since it was the 4th quarter of 2016. In January 2017, I saw a full-time position post for middays on an Urban AC station and submitted my extremely outdated and amateur demo. I really should have taken the time to update it, but I was just putting it out into the universe as is and I got a call back. It was JB King from CBS Radio. Fast forward, I did not get the job, but JB was my contact in Vegas radio so when a part-time position came up five months down the line I put myself back in JB’s inbox and he tossed me over to J. Love at Mix 94.1. At this time, I made a couple of adjustments in my personal life and resigned from my fulltime job, rented my townhouse out and moved my son and I back into my parent’s house because I knew the only way I was going to get myself back into radio fulltime was to make myself available for all shift coverages.

In August of 2017, J. Love brought me onboard for one shift a weekend which quickly grew into covering dayparts, helping with production and sitting in with producer Jocelyn Luna on Mercedes in the Morning. My goal was to get a daypart position within two-years even if it meant leaving my home in Las Vegas. From the moment I entered this industry doing mornings never crossed my mind until I sat in on the Mercedes in the Morning show. And, in late 2018, The Chet Buchanan Show’s longtime producer Davey the Showkiller was getting ready to exit, so I put my name in the hat for a position I had no idea if I was even ready for, but I liked the challenge. And so it began.”

During the pandemic, Jessica did find herself out of radio for a bit, but now she’s on to her new adventure and life in Tulsa and she couldn’t be happier. For her, the thrill of radio and its addiction begins with audience connection. “It’s when a listener calls in and says, ‘thank you for sharing your experience because I went through something similar, and this is what happened to me.’ It’s exciting to engage in human interactions, shared experiences, and emotional connections,” she says. “I was truly moved by a mother who called me on the day I shared how I overreacted when I caught my 9-year-old watching porn. She called to thank me for that topic. The mom told me her son asked her if watching porn was a bad thing and it started an open dialogue between the both of them. It made me feel so good to know that he now knows he can confide in his mother even when subject matters feel uncomfortable,” says Rose.

Another exciting radio thrill for Jessica is taking the main stage and hyping up a crowd. “It’s the coolest experience, and, no I’m never scared because they didn’t come to see me,” she says. “I’m just here to get all my friends out of their seats and ready to forget what’s happening outside the arena.”

The biggest struggle for Jessica over the years was her internal conflict about her true passion. “The most challenging thing was knowing I was madly in love with radio, but I had put myself in this corner for a while and believed it had been something that I had to accept, ‘been there done that!” She says. “There were many times I beat myself up for taking so long to get back to radio but I had some growing up to do and I was able to do it without throwing myself under a bus. I wouldn’t say I handled it, I just let myself go through the motions while establishing another avenue in my career. Now, I don’t focus so much on the pressure of time and age expectations.”

Being the true professional that she is, I asked Jessica to give advice for women who want to get into the business. She put together a play book for us:

“Do not pin yourself to one format or one source of media. This is no longer the radio industry and your talent from radio broadcasting can translate to other forms of media and positions. Follow your intuition because it’s the strongest voice most people ignore and it’s your own. Comfort zones don’t survive here. Always get your audio the same day (you can cut it up later) and create other sources of revenue for yourself.

How to Start:

A. Research, Research, Research

  • Watch the Women in Radio Live Chats on Instagram @womeninradio. I would have benefited tremendously having all those nuggets up front.
  • Find out the names and contact information for the broadcasting companies in your area and the next city that is within your willingness to travel. Go to their websites for each station in their cluster and click on the “contact us” section. All stations list their department heads and contact info.
  • Go to Indeed and search for the various positions you are interested in. Study those job descriptions and requirements. You can also check out who’s hiring on Draft a radio resume and use your current resume to link the skillsets you already have with the ones that are required. You will continue to add to the resume as your skills develop.
  • Search “radio consultants” and read their blogs, sign up for their seminars (most are free), oh and read industry news.
  • Take voiceover classes along with improv if you are interested in being on-air.
  • Read books about storytelling.

B. Get Hands-on Experience

  • If your community college offers an introduction to radio broadcasting course – take it! This is whether or not you want to be on air. You never know where your career is going to take you.
  • Contact a local personality and ask if you can spend an hour or two shadowing them. This is going to be a little tricky because these days not everyone on the air is local. You can also look for star players that aren’t on air like folks in Promotions, Sales, Digital and Production.
  • If you see a position like street team, promotions team, receptionist, sales assistant – apply!!!
  • Also if you see entry level positions with PR agencies – apply!!!

C. Social Media

  • If you need to clean yours up, do it now.
  • Find what works for you.
  • Be where you need to be to build a following.
  • Develop and expand your media skills – writing, filming, editing, lighting, etc.”

Fantastic advice and a winning playbook for sure.

It’s impossible to not ask successful talent how the “year of the pandemic” impacted them personally and professionally. For Jessica, one of the highlights of last year’s pandemic was that she got to spend a lot of her time with her 13-year-old son. For most, that would seem like a parent’s nightmare, she says, but not for Jessica, the two have much in common and she enjoys his company in her spare time. Depending on her mood, she does enjoy staying in. “I’ve worked so smart to keep where I lay my head a place of peace,” she says. “When I am home, I enjoy playing video games with my son and finding new zombie themed movies/shows to watch with him as well. The both of us enjoy painting and drawing along with taking each other down in a game of UNO,” says Rose. “When I don’t feel like being a hermit, I enjoy driving with the windows down, doing a little retail therapy, exploring new sites, swimming, dining out, and meeting up with friends. Oh, and you can always get me out of the house with live music and comedy shows (please don’t invite me to a Gen-Z or Millennial’s comedy show, love y’all but I’m a Dave Chapelle and Richard Pryor fan).”

“Currently, I don’t have any real stress in my life so there is nothing really serious that keeps me up at night,” says Rose. “Right now, it’s just worrying that my alarm clock isn’t going to go off. And the place I’m living in does not have ceiling fans. I need cool air blowing on me in order to sleep. But my son, family, friends, vacations, time off and my alone time do bring me balance,” she says. “If I don’t have any of those people or things within reach then my go to is always music and specifically soul. Throwing on Erykah Badu or Maxwell will have me ready to get back out there with a clear mind and full heart. I’ve never struggled with taking time off. I know a company, a team, and people have the ability to function without me.”

As for what we have to look forward to from Jessica besides watching the layers unfold on “KC in the Morning” and growing its success? “Expanding my services (specifically voiceovers – IVR, e-Learning, audiobooks), my brand and adding more content to my website and YouTube,” she says. “Continuing to practice and build on my video editing skills. Taking on more markets looking for afternoon talent on Hot AC, Urban AC and Country. Launching an authentic podcast about topics we’re keeping quiet about because society forces us to feel ashamed about them. Putting roots down in Tulsa and advocating for women and children. And I’m also very excited about my upcoming trip to St Jude Country Cares.”

Follow Jessica Rose:

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter: @PlusJessicaRose