Charese Fruge’ Talks To Stephanie Sidela
This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on June 22, 2021
A brief synopsis of her radio career looks like this: In February of 2014 she interned for “Chio in the Morning” while in her last semester of college at San Diego State University. In June of 2014 she became a promotions assistant for iHeartMedia/San Diego and in May 2015, FM board operator. In January of 2016, she became the “Kramer and Geena” Assistant Producer (KHTS (Channel 933)). In September of 2018, Stephanie took a leap and became Craig and Co’s Executive Producer at 96.5 TIC in Hartford, CT. In June of 2019 she got the opportunity to come back to the West Coast as Executive Producer for “Mercedes in the Morning” and sadly, in April of 2020 she was laid off due to the pandemic. The good news is, in January of 2021 she was rehired.
Stephanie got into the business through a friend of her dad’s. “I used to dance with my dad’s band ‘Rising Star’ at Viejas Casino in San Diego. My dad had a friend, Sean ‘2rille’, who DJ’d there while we performed. Sean asked if I wanted to intern at a new radio station 95.7 KISS FM in San Diego that he worked at, so I said, ‘Why not?’ I interned for ‘Chio in The Morning.’ Watching Chio was so intriguing and cool to see him in his element! When my internship was over, I was hired on to the promotions team to work for the street team and the rest was history!”
I asked Stephanie what a day in the life of a successful producer was like. “A day in the life is to get enough sleep! I know it’s hard to wake up super early like 2:30am, but if you prioritize sleep it will help start off your day golden,” she says. “Also balance of working ahead and not getting too ahead of yourself is important. As a producer, the to do list never ends, but if you focus on one thing at a time and to not overwhelm yourself is key,” says Sidela. “Also, knowing your hosts and how they work is important. Not every host is the same. Knowing their likes and dislikes (favorite bands, foods, family, hobbies, etc.), what time they come in and what time they usually leave. Getting to know them on a personal level on top of a professional level is a must. It helps with show content and makes for a great work environment.”
One of the most exciting things for Stephanie professionally, was taking a leap and leaving the West Coast for the first time. “I moved from San Diego to Connecticut to work for ‘Craig and Co.’ on 96.5 TIC. I was with my then boyfriend, now husband, who moved across the country with me. We ended up getting married in our 500 square foot apartment. Eight months later I was asked if I wanted to come back to the west coast to work for ‘Mercedes in the Morning’ and it was hard to say no to work with the amazing Mercedes and J.C., so we packed our bags again and moved to Las Vegas!”
“Mercedes in the Morning” is consistently one of the top performing morning shows in the Hot AC format across the country. Stephanie attributes that to the hosts. “Coming back from a 10-month hiatus of radio (April 2020 – Jan 2021), I came back into the show with a lot of motivation and ready to kick ass in ratings, but I was already set up for success,” she says. “Mercedes and J.C. work hard and on top of their talent it was easy for all of us to be on the same page and remember what we do this for…. putting the listeners first always! Our listeners are put at the forefront of everything we do. Their listening patterns changed so we had to start thinking of how to get back into their homes and be vulnerable to the new challenges of the pandemic.”
Getting let go during the pandemic was one of the most challenging things Stephanie has ever experienced. “My identity was challenged, and my future was unknown. I handled it by taking one day at a time, enjoying the down time and only worrying about what I could control. Meditating, journaling, and yoga really helped me during those times,” she says.
“Being let go was absolutely life changing,” says Sidela. “Personally, it impacted me by learning that nothing is promised and what you have today might not be here tomorrow. It taught me to not take anything for granted and to be grateful for everything I have now and today!” She says. “Our show had to adjust to the fact that times were harder, we were all learning how to work from home and being with our families more. Having more patience to this new change and not stressing on things beyond our control was important. Learning to improvise on the spot and roll with the punches was key,” she adds. “Coming back to the show after my radio hiatus, I was way more appreciative of my job and happy to have hosts like Mercedes and J.C. fight for me to come back! They are truly people who you want on your team.”
The industry needs more female producers. Stephanie’s advice for women who want to make a career of it: “Learn everything you can and never stop learning. Build relationships with people you think can help you learn. Take what you learn and be the best you can be at it. Go above and beyond when people ask you to do something,” she says. “On your own time ask if you can shadow someone that you look up to or someone who has a position that you eventually want to be in. Take notes! Always have a notepad and something to write with. Take every challenge as an opportunity to grow. Always have a good attitude!”
In the meantime, Stephanie says “Take some time for yourself! In my spare time, I love to catch up on my favorite shows, play with my puppy Momo, walk in the park, play Candy Crush, play trivia games, work out, yoga, try new foods, dance of course, cook, and listen to and find new music!”
And while Candy Crush is really one of the only things that keeps her up at night, Stephanie finds balance in reading, meditating, crystals, taking deep breaths, stretching/yoga, her husband and taking the time to enjoy the NOW!
As for what we have to look forward to from her. “I want to grow into a role model and hopefully inspire a younger generation of media/radio lovers,” she says. “One day I hope to put on a dance charity showcase with the station. I also want to get back into dancing and be on the dance stage again! I want to host local events and be a spokesperson for causes I care about… autism awareness and homelessness, and of course, ‘Mercedes in the Morning’ and Mix 94.1.”
Follow Stephanie Sidela on socials @StayUpWithSteph (IG, Twitter, FB, Tik Tok)