Charese Fruge’ Talks To Rachel Ryan

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on March 2, 2021 

Rachel Ryan is the new Midday host for KSCS, New Country, 96.3, Dallas/Ft. Worth. She got in to radio by winning a radio YouTube contest in 2010 in her hometown of Mobile, AL for the legendary station WABB. (Click HERE for her video submission) “At the time, I was in school thinking I was going to be a news reporter and as a cheap college student I didn’t have cable so the radio was on 24 hours in the background,” she says. “One day I heard a promo on WABB that the local morning show was looking for a female co-host. That was when YouTube was really starting to become a big thing and I thought ‘Oh! I could do this!’ I ended up not winning the contest but the PD at the time still hired me part-time. I immediately loved that I was able to be myself and show my personality…that sounded way more attractive than being monotoned as a reporter, so I learned everything that I could once I got in the building. I was never ‘lucky’ getting my foot in the door…I just took advantage of an opportunity that was presented to me,” says Ryan.

“I started out part time on air and doing everything with promotions, production, etc.,” she says. “I eventually became full time and hosted my own midday show. Once the station was sold, Cumulus picked me up to do mornings in Mobile at the now WABD in 2012. I then took the leap in 2014 to start a new morning show in San Antonio at KTFM. In 2016, I moved to Atlanta to do middays again at Q100 (now Q99.7). After several years in Atlanta, I transitioned to the Country format, where I’m now hosting my midday show at KSCS in Dallas.”

“My new role for New Country is engaging the listeners with local content and heavy listener interaction through phone calls and social media,” says Ryan. “My show is sandwiched in-between two powerhouses…the morning show and afternoons. It’s my job to set appointments for listeners and make it a continuous conversation. When I’m not on air I ask the question, ‘What else?’ What else can I do to keep the conversation going through social media/blogging…what else needs to be done? Can I be on a Zoom call with sales and a potential client? What else can I do to help the station?”

Through the years, as Rachel has worked her way to her current position, she’s achieved some major accomplishments. “Oh man! There are many things I am proud of: Besides holding #1 in ratings in ATL, all of the years of Toys for Tots toy drives during Christmas, broadcasting at every single Walmart across the Gulf Coast, the radiothon’s for local Breast Cancer organizations, partnering with animal shelters, virtual Stuff A Bus for DFW, broadcasting at the Children’s Healthcare of ATL every year to raise money, these are just a few,” she says. “This past Christmas I took lead in the 2nd Annual Shreveport Shriner’s Hospital Radiothon for the Shreveport Cumulus cluster and we raised over $50,000. THAT was pretty awesome! Helping other people really puts your life into perspective and if my voice can help drive and make a connection with people…that wins.”

Rachel has also experienced some pretty exciting adventures throughout her career. “Atlanta hosted the 2019 Super Bowl and radio row was CRAZY! Such a rush not knowing and preparing yourself to talk to every A-List celebrity,” she says. “Before COVID, broadcasting at Sandals resorts, Universal Park in Orlando and all the PRIDE parades were always exciting. Also, nothing beats being young and still very green to the business, broadcasting your show on the station you grew up with (WABB) during Mardi Gras. We’d partner with the best bar with a balcony in downtown Mobile and broadcast during Joe Cain and Fat Tuesday. The listeners are just excited you’re down there partying with them, so the characters and content were there!”

The accomplishments and excitement didn’t come without the challenges for Rachel throughout her career. Especially in the last few years. “Creating 3 different locally driven midday shows for 3 different markets really challenged me. I remember one week in 2020 where protests were very heavy in Atlanta for the BLM movement, Juneteenth was BIG in DFW and I needed to fully understand and educated myself on the movement, and at the same time there was a hurricane happening in Shreveport with flooding and power outages. My PD at one point needed me to continue broadcasting on afternoons there, so I had to be super informative and on top of the updates as they were happening. All while I was broadcasting at home in Atlanta in the middle of a pandemic,” she says.

“2020 really made me challenge and dig deeper of the question, ‘Ok, how am I REALLY going to keep my listeners engaged now, they’re routine isn’t normal anymore,” she says. “I have a lot of young, entrepreneur friends in Atlanta and I remember feeling so bad for them when the pandemic happened. So, I created a segment during my show called ‘Quaren-tainment’ (play off the 2 words quarantine and entertainment…. get it?) Since everyone was working at home, I really pumped up my social media and started hosting informational IG live videos. I interviewed so many businesses asking hair salons how we should take care of our hair at home, dentist on remedies to whitening your teeth at home, local distillery’s making quarantine cocktails, therapist, nutritionist, dermatologist, etc.,” she says. “They were all eager and just happy to have their brand/business on a bigger platform and it was a win for me because I ended up introducing them to our sales team to continue the relationship.”

Despite making the most of her career during the pandemic, Rachel did have some downtime. “Oh hell yes! I was furloughed for 3 weeks in 2020 and I took full advantage of it lol,” she says. “I’m obsessed with all of the TLC shows, 90 Day Fiancé and RuPaul’s Drag Race are my favorite! I was able to read a lot more and I figured out that I really enjoy mystery novels and I’ve kept that habit to where I’m now reading so much, I need to stop buying these books on Amazon and get a library card. I also had the time to analyze my birth chart which was super enlightening.”

In the long run, according to Rachel, as cliché as it sounds, she wants to be known for the positive vibes she gives her audience. “I’m in it for the art of connecting with people. I love social media but what I’ve learned in this business is that a lot of people just need someone to listen to them,” she says. “I don’t mind being that sound board for people, call me about your co-workers, vent about your husband to me…I’ve got your back and I promise I’ll always be on your side.”

Having people, the right people, on your side is important in the business as well, according to Rachel. “I have a core inner circle of mentors I can lean on to be open with me. And I’m all about mentoring and giving back, but I’ve been in radio for over 10 years and my time is very important,” she says. “If I’m going to take time and energy for you….do the work. Follow through and go the extra mile.”

Some of her best advice for those who want to get in to radio: “My advice to anyone who’s wanting to be on air but can’t get their foot in the door, start branding yourself now. Use social media to your advantage,” she says. “That doesn’t mean posting pictures your photography friend took of you. Are you trying to be an influencer? Ask yourself…’What are you serving your audience?’ If pop culture is your thing…great! Start doing a segment on your IG and post it every week with your own spin to it and don’t stop posting it because no one’s engaging with you, consistency and reliability is what people are looking for.”

What keeps Rachel up at night? “TikTok! I fell down the rabbit hole with that stupid app in 2020. Yeah, the videos are funny, but the comments can be the most entertaining part,” she says. But she has been able to find balance. How? “My cat, Domino. Animal therapy is a real thing. Radio can throw you crazy hours, constant work that can make you replay conversations in your head and question how you handle certain things…but when you come home to an animal knowing you are their entire world, it forces you to slow down and enjoy the instant comfort they gain just from you being present and back at home with them.”

Rachel has only been on the air for a week now at KSCS, but she’s eager for the future and relocating to DFW. “I can already feel a difference in the loyalty the listeners have for the Country format,” she says. “I’m a Sagittarius so, exploring is my nature. Learning, continuing to be curious and challenging myself to this new role is super exciting! I can confidently say that I have never been so eager in my career to hit the ground running as if I’ve always been there.”

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