Charese Fruge’ Talks To Mia Mocha

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on December 14, 2021 

She was originally a stay-at-home mom and homemaker, but the drive to be a performer has always been in her blood. So, Mia Mocha applied and went to Broadcasting School and has now been in the business for 16 years. Mia is an on-air radio personality on El Dorado Broadcasters Hip Hop and R&B station HD96.3 FM (KATJ-HD) in the High Desert. Her responsibilities include show prep, script writing, voice overs, interviews, social media content creation, broadcasting live from various businesses/venues, promotions, endorsements, and giveaways.

Mia’s career history includes various formats: Top 40, Country, Talk Radio, and stations for Clear Channel (Now iHeart), El Dorado Broadcasters, University of Redlands KDAWG College Radio, KCAA 1050-AM NBC News Radio, and KMET 1490-AM ABC News Radio. She is also the creator, producer and co-host of the fun, upbeat and entertaining television show “The Eclectic Beauty Hunter.” The show covers beauty, fashion, travel, makeup, and skincare. She’s a beauty influencer, humanitarian, and volunteers in her community.

Mia says it was her faith in God and the influence of her family that got her into the business. “Performing has always been in my blood. My grandmother was a radio personality with her own talk show for 40 years in Baton Rouge, LA. My mother was also an actor, she even had a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card,” says Mia, “I have a background in the performing arts where I did tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and theater and I was in a semi-professional ballet company called The Jefferson Dancers. I was originally a homemaker and stay at home mom, but I have always been an artist and I have always been creative,” she says. “I can draw, paint, and more, and when my kids got older, I applied to radio broadcasting school and upon completion, I was hired by Clear Channel Radio. I worked hard, kept the faith, stayed persistent, and continuously learned and studied my craft to get to where I am today.”

Over the years, Mia has worked with some amazing mentors and leaders. “At the start of my career, it was Coleen Quinn who brought me on (at Clear Channel, now El Dorado Broadcasters) and was my mentor. She helped launch my career. She showed me what it meant to be an on-air personality and what it takes to create and produce a quality and entertaining show,” says Mia. “Another was Joe Pagano, who was the production director at the time. He hired me to be the radio production assistant and helped me to expand my skills and experience. I handled day-to-day operations which included sound and audio engineering as well as radio programming. I also did voice overs and PSAs. I learned tremendously from Joe, I learned how to handle the technical/engineering aspects of the job so not only can I be an on-air personality, but I also know how to produce and run shows from an engineering perspective.

My career and skill set also expanded from being in the ‘Hollywood Social Lounge’ with Aaron Michael Sanchez and Kelly V. Dolan. I originally engineered their show, and they loved my laugh so much that they asked me to be a part of it,” says Mia. “I developed my interviewing skills not only on air but for red carpets too. We did many fun red carpet interviews and events together. Their show was live and streamed not only on the radio but other streaming and TV platforms as well, so I learned how to stay quick on my feet. After working with them for years, I’m very comfortable with live broadcasts in addition to pre-recorded work.”

Mia has also had some very exciting experiences throughout the years of her broadcast career. “When I was engineering for the Roseanne Barr radio show, she had Mia Farrow as a guest, whom I was named after, and it was such a thrill to speak with her,” says Mia. “Some other exciting things were doing red carpet interviews with amazing actors, producers, directors, and more, for La Femme Film Festival, as well as designers and models for LA Fashion Week and Palm Springs Fashion Week.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing rapper and TikTok sensation Erica Banks, known for her hits “Buss It” and “Toot That.” We play her on the station, and I have to say that she is such a sweetheart and down to earth,” says Mia. “It was also amazing meeting old school artists for the old school music concert events where I interviewed recording artists such as En Vogue, Slave, 2 Live Crew, Mary Jane Girls, Dazz Band, Shannon, Pretty Poison, Lakeside, the Delfonics, Kylmaxx, and more.,” she says. “I also had my own talk show called ‘Coffee Talk,’ a TV show where my co-host Paul Amadeus Lane and I interviewed celebs, local politicians, authors, political figures, and business owners.”

While Mia is grateful for the opportunities she’s had thanks to her career, it wasn’t always easy for her. “One of the most challenging things I had to face was working with extreme divas, the ones who were demanding and threw tantrums,” she says. “It was not easy for me, but I learned not to take it personally. I consistently stayed true to myself and with more experience, I got tougher skin to handle this aspect of the industry.

Another challenge I’ve faced is being a woman of color in the industry. I had to learn how to stand up for myself and be strong. We all face workplace challenges of being overlooked or undermined, despite all the talent, skill, and experience, but when one door closes, another one opens, so I always keep moving forward and I don’t let anything, nor anyone stop me from achieving my goals. People will put limits on you, but it is up to you to allow it or not. I don’t put limitations on myself, I believe that as long as I work hard, I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”

Mia also has great advice for women looking to get into the management side of radio. “Be the example for others, like participating in panels and workshops or go to university/college radio programs and organizations to encourage and advise women to pursue radio and to work their way up,” she says. “If it is something they want to do, help them realize it is not impossible and encourage them to pursue their dream. I am all about women empowerment and support, but true support. Meaning, I am secure in my talents and skills, so I uplift and encourage everyone, but especially women, to pursue their dreams and ambitions,” says Mia. “Women need to stick together and encourage one another. Contrary to popular belief, we can all make it. There is a seat for everyone at the table. Women already face enough obstacles as it is, but if women keep other women down, we won’t get anywhere.”

In her spare time, Mia knows how to have fun. “I enjoy long walks down the makeup aisle,” she says. “I also love to belly dance, I have always wanted to do it, so I belly dance as a form of a workout. When I have the time, I enjoy playing the drums. I also like to garden. I have many dwarf fruit trees so you can practically make a fruit salad from my backyard. I love spending time with my friends and family, and we love to karaoke, it’s hilarious and fun. I’m also a humanitarian so I volunteer in my community for various organizations and causes like No Drugs America, American Cancer Society, Anti-Human Trafficking, and more.

What keeps me up at night is being creative and coming up with new ideas as well as things I want to accomplish. For example, my dream is to travel, and how can I put that into action,” says Mia. “I am a Christian, so my faith keeps me balanced. But also, learning to let things go that are not important and picking and choosing my battles wisely help me stay balanced. I try not to be so hard on myself and to not put so much pressure on myself, but to know that I always do the best I can with what I’m given.”

Mia is looking forward to 2022. She plans to stay busy. “Of course, I’ll continue to be on air and attend more public events and interview more artists for the station as well as red carpet interviews for fashion week. And I’m working on producing more beauty and lifestyle content for my show called ‘The Eclectic Beauty Hunter,’ a fun and upbeat show where we are on the hunt to find the latest and greatest in beauty, skincare, fashion, and lifestyle. Stay tuned for more!”

Follow Mia Mocha on Instagram @mia_mocha, Facebook @ Mia Mocha Johnson, Twitter @Miamocha_ and TikTok @miamochajohnson