Charese Fruge Talks To Theresa Clanton
This article was originally posted on the AllAccess.com feature “Women to Watch” on February 4, 2020 and written by Charese Fruge’
iHeart’s KTBZ (94.5 The Buzz), where she is the midday host, has long been one of my favorite radio stations, not only because of the music, but because I have always been a fan of The Rod Ryan Show. He and I competed against each other in the early days of our careers in New Orleans. As it turns out, Theresa was a co-host on his show in Houston while holding down middays on The Buzz at the same time for about 8 years. Now she’s focused on her growing career and family. She’s the mother of two (her husband is in the family business), she still hosts middays for The Buzz, and can be heard on the air in many iHeart markets across the country.
Originally from Kansas City, I wanted to find out if 16 years in Houston had turned her in to a Southern Girl. She got the important questions right.
Chic-Fil-A or Popeyes?
“OH NO! This question made me sweat. Look, Chick-Fil-A is the BOMB ALL DAY EVERYDAY! That Popeyes chicken sandwich THOUGH! It’s better! I said it. It’s better than Chic-Fil-A.”
In-N-Out or Whataburger?
How’s the Texas humidity on your hair?
“If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see my hair in a topknot. The humidity is brutal, BUT it’s great for the skin. No wrinkles! *Wink*”
Your thoughts on crawfish?
“Ok, so here’s the deal, I’m from the Midwest. We don’t do crawfish. So I have never fully embraced the crawfish thing. I’ll eat it, but the process is too much for me. Ha Ha, I don’t do sweet tea either. I appreciate it, but those are two southern things I did not adopt after moving to Texas.” To be fair to Theresa, I will give her the crawfish thing. It’s much easier for most people who weren’t raised in the South to enjoy crawfish if someone else is pinching the tails. It is a bit of a hustle to peel it yourself.
Theresa got her start in radio after attending a radio job fair she heard about on Z95 while in college. She drove two hours to meet the promotions director who invited her for a station visit. She eventually became a promotions intern, then part time promo kid and the rest is history. “I loved everything about radio. I worked and worked. I said ‘yes’ to everything they asked me to do and I hounded the Program Director to let me try being on air,” says Clanton. “My first shift was Sunday 2am to 4am. I remember using the on air name Monica. I guess I felt Theresa was boring,” she said. “I knew I was horrible. Made all the mistakes you could make, yet I was back the next weekend and it turned in to a regular shift.”
It wasn’t an easy road for Theresa despite her determination, but she hung in there. “I had the opportunity to work for 96.5 The Buzz when it signed on in Kansas City. I did mornings for like a week, then went to middays. The PD of the station, who will remain nameless, told me I was horrible and would never make it as an on-air talent,” says Clanton. “I cried and just about quit, but was later given the opportunity to move to the cluster’s Classic Rock station, KYYS. I was so young and wasn’t sure if I would fit a Classic Rock station. But I was so wrong. I was there for maybe three years. I did weekends and was eventually asked to do traffic with afternoon host Marty Wall. Then I became promotions assistant, then moved up to Promotions Director, all while doing my small bits on air.”
According to Theresa, it was a dream job. “I was working with this heritage and legendary air staff. From Marty Wall, to Max, to Tanna and Moffitt, I truly learned EVERYTHING from them,” she says. “They gave me so much confidence and let me grow there. They taught me everything I know. They also knew I would move on to even bigger and better things. I cherish everything they did for me. I look back now and wish I had more photos of everything I did there. I met Sammy Hagar, Aerosmith, Ozzy and Sharon, The Scorpions, Ted Nugent and just about every Rock legend you could imagine. It was the early 2000s, so the post grunge/Nu Metal sound was starting. That’s what I was into, yet working at KY kept me in touch with the OG’s. It expanded my musical knowledge immensely.”
In 2004 Theresa got a call to interview in Houston for Middays on 94.5 The Buzz and she got the gig. “This was my first shot at my own show and I got it. I’ve been with IHeart ever since,” she says. A day in her life starts around 8:30. “I have two kids, one baby, so I am non-stop. At 8:30, I roll in and just GO! I am on many shows all over the country. I do about 5 shows a day and I love it. I have my own rhythm and I just go until it’s done. I’m a tornado!”
Tornado? I do follow you on Instagram and you crack me up.Your Disney Filter was Ursula, why did that make so much sense to you?
“Ahhhhh HaHaHaha. Oh Man, well, let me see if I can explain this so it makes sense. I’m a very intense person. I’m not the sweet innocent princess. I AM BIG AND LOUD!”
When you got into the business, did you realize it would be challenging for a woman? Particularly in the Rock format?
“I didn’t realize it for a while. Some of this will go into my book. I’ve put that in writing, so now I have to write one. Ha! When I started to “succeed” on a new level I had people say it’s because I have big boobs or it’s because of how I look,” says Clanton. “It’s radio, how could that even be a thing, right? You HEAR my voice. It was infuriating. I have been side stage, waiting to bring on a national band when a tour manager kicked me out because he thought I was a groupie. Again, infuriating (These are the times when URSULA comes out).”
And how do you handle it?
“I don’t let these ‘situations’ distract me, I let them fire me up. I use it to fuel my fire. I realized a couple of year ago that I needed to stop thinking of myself as a “woman” in radio trying to prove a point. Man, woman or Martian, just work. Work hard! Have a stellar work ethic and hustle! That’s what will help you succeed.” Her advice to new comers, “Always say ‘yes’! Learn everything you can in the building. Don’t be afraid to start from the bottom and work your way up.”
So what’s next for Theresa? What do we have to look forward to?
“I have an amazing husband and two amazing kids. I am very thankful to have my family and an amazing career. In 2020 you’ll probably hear my voice in more markets. I have a lifestyle YouTube Channel that has been sitting there waiting for me to launch, so that’s a goal for sure. And hey, maybe it’s time to write the book I’ve been bragging about. Ha Ha.”
Follow Theresa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @TheresaRockFace