Charese Fruge Talks To Monica Rivera

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on April 6, 2021 

Monica Rivera has taken three major leaps of faith in her career for someone of her age. I admire her bravery so much. First, she switched her major in college as a junior, about to enter Nursing School, to Broadcast Journalism, because something inside her didn’t feel right. Then after a few years working in radio and the casino business, she picked up and moved from her hometown of San Diego to Nashville, over 2000 miles away from her family to pursue her passion for Country music. Now after almost 3 years as an Associate Editor for All Access Nashville, Monica is taking another leap of faith to get back into the radio business as Content Producer/Country Music for Audacy and reports to her new boss, Michael Cerio, Managing Editor/Music this week. She will continue to work in the Country Format with the programming and talent leadership for the company.

This is so random, but I kind of got the chills when it happened, and I think It’s no coincidence that as I am writing this, “A Star Is Born” is playing on television and as I talk about Monica’s leaps of faith, I look up and it’s the part of the movie where Jack (Bradly Cooper) brings Ally (Lady Gaga) on stage for the first time. She has no idea it’s coming, and she is scared to death and doesn’t want to go out and sing with him. But, after a minute, she closes her eyes, swallows hard and walks out on stage….and as fate would have it, “A Star Is Born.” That kind of fearlessness is what creates some of the most successful people in the business these days. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut and take the leap without having a clue of where things will fall.

Monica got into the business because of her love for Country music. “My love for the format was my biggest motivator for working in the music industry. Country music has been the soundtrack of my life and means so much to me,” she says. “The thought of working with it daily and learning more about the behind the scenes really excited me. Music of all genres impacts people in such incredible ways, and to be a part of a platform servicing that music and content to fans is a really special thing to me. I’m so excited to join a company that is a part of everyday lives through various audio platforms.

At first, I had my heart set on being a nurse and was finishing prerequisites before applying to Nursing School at Fresno State when I realized I just wasn’t happy,” says Rivera. “I made the decision to change my major at the end of my junior year and work towards a degree in Broadcast Journalism. At the time, I just picked it because I was a good writer and didn’t mind speaking (and admittedly, had major senioritis). I just wanted to be done and graduate on time. During my senior year at Fresno State, I fell in love with my journalism classes. They allowed me to write about things I was passionate about and I loved creating news pieces and writing articles that people enjoyed reading. I felt so passionate about it all and haven’t looked back since.

It’s a huge accomplishment for me even being among some of the insanely talented people in this industry,” says Rivera. “Being a girl from San Diego who took a chance and moved to Nashville with a dream, it’s a really big deal to me that I have landed a job with a company like Audacy. I’m so excited about the timing of me re-joining the team, they have big visions along with their recent re-brand and I am so excited to be a part of executing that vision.”

The road to success is not always Easy Street. Moving to Nashville was a big challenge for Monica. Leaving her family and not knowing anyone was difficult in the beginning. “I knew it was a risk I had to take though. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering, ‘What if I had moved to Nashville?’ I needed to live out the answer!” She says. “At times it has been hard to keep my hopes of advancing my career in the industry alive, especially during the pandemic. There is so much uncertainty and it is so easy to feel defeat, but taking time to reflect on how far I’ve come has always helped me face the hard times. It re-motivates me to work hard so I can keep adding to that story. It’s a tough journey, but also, so very rewarding.” Her advice to women looking to get into the business: “You can do it! You will hear the word ‘no’ a lot, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you in this industry.”

As with everyone else, the pandemic has changed Monica’s life considerably. “Professionally, it has changed the content I cover and how it’s covered immensely. It’s been a whole new world from award shows to concerts and the way music fans and artists connect,” she says. “Personally, it’s shown me an ever-deeper appreciation for so many things. It has been tough not only being separated from so many members of my biological family for so long, but also my Country music family. This industry has such a special bond, and I can’t wait to see everyone in person and celebrate with some live music and big hugs!

“And while it’s been a tough year for so many, I choose to remain hopeful in what’s to come for the music industry,” says Rivera. “Living and working through a pandemic has forced everyone to think outside the box, get creative and find a new level of strength that I think can only improve what we see in the future.”

The things that keep Monica up at night are “New ideas!” she says. “I take pride in thinking outside the box and keeping content fresh and interesting to people. Whether I’m on a roll brainstorming creative questions for an upcoming interview or my mind is spiraling with ideas for a new article, I can have a hard time getting my mind to rest.

Balance is key, especially in this career!” she says. “My family is a great source of balance for me. While they support my career endeavors 100%, none of them are in the music industry so being around them makes for an easy “escape” from work, and they’re always there to offer a much simpler perspective. I’ve been really lucky to have parents who have always advocated work-life balance and been a great example of it,” she says. “I am also a dog lover! While I don’t have my own dog at the moment, I have a huge soft spot for rescue dogs (especially Pitbulls) and am a big advocate for them. I currently help take care of a Pitbull named Elvis and he helps me unwind in my downtime. You can catch us at the local dog park, or in the neighborhood Chick-Fil-A drive thru! Yum!”

While Monica’s All Access family is so proud of her career growth and happy for her, she will be missed. But we are so happy for her to be able to spread her wings, and so is she. “In my new role with Audacy I hope to bring fans fresh, exciting content that makes them feel more connected to the music they already love so much.”

Follow Monica Rivera on Instagram: @monicaariveraa & Twitter: @monicaa_riveraa