Charese Fruge’ Talks To Marie LeMaitre

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on May 10, 2022 

She’s never had an actual full-time gig in radio, and yet, she’s the creator of the very successful and inspiring “The Radio Fam.” Why? Because she was simply unwilling to sit back and wait for the radio industry to move forward at a reasonable pace. She took her energetic instincts, developed her own brand along the way, and started her own company so she could operate at her own pace, and actually see results, not only for herself, but for the names and brands she works with.

Marie grew up in Tacoma and had a love for creating mixtapes and CDs. “I would literally ‘schedule my music’ just like a radio station but had no clue I was doing it! I actually went to college originally to be an elementary school teacher. Simply because I wanted to dress in quirky clothes and have summers off. Then I got bit by the radio bug, and we all know how that goes…”

“My radio journey started in Seattle doing promotions for a summer with KKWF. I fell in love with the 100.7 The Wolf in Seattle,” says LeMaitre. “The station launched a promotion called ‘Quest for a Million Listeners.’ People were encouraged to call in and pledge listenership until they reached one million. So, people would call up and say, ‘I turned my mom and sister into Wolf listeners so pledge three for us!’ I was a P1, and I just wanted to be a part of it, so I created a sign on my pickup truck that read ‘HONK IF YOU PLEDGE TO LISTEN TO 100.7 THE WOLF!’ I would drive around the Puget Sound with my windows rolled down and people would actually honk! I’d call up the station and say, ‘I got eight honks today.’ Long story short, they saw my truck at a remote one day and pretty much offered me a promo job on the spot!”

“I then moved to Colorado Springs to work with KKMG, KATC and KKFM and stayed there for four years,” says LeMaitre. “When I started looking for jobs in other markets, I created a Facebook page for my ‘promo personality’ to show PDs that I was valuable on social media too! I’d post things like ‘Come see us tonight at Cowboys from 7-9p! Alisha’s giving away Brad Paisley tickets every 15 minutes!” She says. “The PD at KYGO in Denver noticed me, reached out and I was hired in 2011! After a couple of years, I started working full-time in other industries because radio promotions just wasn’t paying the bills, but I always stayed on part-time to continue working remotes and events. I finally quit last year to focus on my own company.”

“My full-time job is actually an Executive Assistant at a media software company. I do some digital brand consulting on the side, and my full-time hustle is building “The Radio Fam.” We have a video podcast as well where I talk with radio people about their journey and how to bring the industry forward.”

“My entire experience in Colorado Springs was great, because I learned so much about the ups and downs of life away from my hometown and navigating the radio world,” explains LeMaitre. “I’m so thankful for everything I went through so early in my career because it really helped prepare me for the future. Visiting St Jude in Memphis was a major highlight – a life changing experience. Thank you, JT!” She says. “Honestly, the biggest accomplishment has been using what I learned to create “The Radio Fam” and watching people get connected and become inspired by the content. I’m working on teaching people to tap into their skills and realize they have value both inside and outside of the radio industry. Learning your value brings confidence when demanding your worth. I’m creating resources that weren’t easily available when I was coming up in the industry. Together, we’re going to make this a much better place.”

It hasn’t been the easiest path to follow for Marie over the years, there have been a few challenges for her. The biggest: “People not taking my ideas seriously, particularly in the marketing and digital space,” she says. “It’s been frustrating watching the industry not fully embrace these tools. As a result, I created my own brand to ‘play radio marketing’ the way I want to.” How do we improve the business, I ask? “Do you have 5 hours? Ha-ha,” she asks. “To sum it up: Invest. In. Talent. And I’m not just talking about on-air talent here. Invest in your marketing dept, invest in your space (i.e.: the studio), your video editors, your social media experts, your producers, and start incorporating demand gen marketing into the sales dept.”

Her best advice for women looking to get into the business: “Understand that your job title does not define you,” she says. “Your station does not define you. Your manager and corporate do not define you. Sometimes you have to get creative on your own to get noticed or to really make things happen for yourself.”

Something people would be surprised to know about Marie is, “I’ve never had a full-time radio gig and I never cared to be on the air. I like behind the scenes work making talent and brands look good,” she says. When I ask her what she likes to do in her spare time, Marie laughs and says, “What spare time?” Also, unlike most people, she doesn’t spend a lot of time binge watching anything–BUT, she does watch Jeopardy every night. Anxiety keeps Marie up at night, but she does manage to find balance from rainy days, loud music, and a great mix show.

As for the next big thing for Marie, we’ll get to watch her in action with a new branding partner. “The next big one is happening in August with Morning Show Boot Camp which is very exciting because I attended my first live one last year,” she says. “I went ‘incognito’ simply to network and learn about the event. Fast forward and “The Radio Fam” is a partner this year! I’m honored and looking forward to seeing everyone in person.”

Follow Marie LeMaitre @TheRadioFam on all socials, TheRadioFam.com, and Linkedin

You can also check out TheRadioFamPodcast.com & YouTube