Annie Frey Balances Family Life With Career in News Radio
Frey hosts the eponymous “The Annie Frey Show” on Fox News Radio station, 97.1FM Talk. Between her family and her job, she’s a busy woman.
Annie Frey relayed a great deal of information in the relatively brief time we spent together. She speaks quickly and lands her thoughts expeditiously. Perhaps that’s because, with four children, you find it hard to get a word in edgewise. She ensured her kids could play doubles tennis when the fourth child showed up last year.
“My daughter Molly Marie was born 16 months ago,” Frey said. “She’s a typical fourth child. She’s independent, curious, a take-along baby. I’m not totally sure what that means.”
That makes two of us.
Frey hosts the eponymous The Annie Frey Show on Fox News Radio station, 97.1FM Talk. Between her family and her job, she’s a busy woman.
“My husband and I used to sit and stare at the first child, wondering how we were going to navigate it all. When the fourth one comes along, you have a totally different mindset. It’s a bit more autopilot.”
Frey said it’s challenging to be a parent, and difficult to keep up with everything that’s going on in the kids’ lives.
“That’s the difficult part right now, juggling it all. And it’s all happening right during the difficult and silly political season.”
It has been said if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. Frey has a family, a job, and coaches volleyball. However, if something has to give, her family will always come first.
“The one thing that people always tell me is the time with your kids goes really fast,” Frey said. “The other phrase is days are long, years are short. Here I am physically trying to keep my eyes open from exhaustion, and then in a blink of those eyes, it will all be over.”
Frey said her number one priority is to be there, and be present in the kids’ lives.
“You can’t always stop the world from hurting them,” she said. “But you have to help create resilient human beings. Let them know they will always have a mother and father that will be there for them. Make it so they don’t really need you anymore.”
She said her 12-year-old is just too mature for her age, an old soul.
“She’s just entering that age where she’s starting to get the jokes, contribute to a conversation. That’s kind of a cool thing. You couldn’t imagine things like that happening when they were super little. What am I going to do when she starts driving a car?”
Frey was born in Edwardsville, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. A mere 22 minutes from downtown. She grew up on a generational farm, raised in the same house in which her grandfather was born.
“There’s a treeline on the western horizon of our property where we can see the Gateway Arch, see fireworks. I always say I’m an Illinoisan in the shadow of the Arch.”
Frey began her radio career as an intern at KFNS, the same time our own Jason Barrett was program director.
“I grew up listening to Frank Cusumano on KFNS. He is one of the best storytellers, bar none,” Frey said. “I started interning on his show coming out of college. I was such small peanuts. I loved working with Frank. I did have a lot of responsibility and had the chance to do meaningful things.”
The internship was unpaid, but that didn’t seem to bother Frey.
“I just loved radio. I got a call when I was in Peoria for a volleyball tournament, and it was the station asking if I’d like to extend the internship–still unpaid. Of course, I said ‘yes.’”
Welcome to radio.
By this time she was living in Hamel, Illinois, and would drive 55 miles to and from the station every day. She finally started making minimum wage. Still, it was all worth it.
“I got to work with some great people,” Frey said. “I didn’t have health benefits, but I was working a real job in the industry. In radio, you have to go where the jobs are.”
She studied communications and broadcasting at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, with aspirations of becoming a sports sideline reporter. Frey said while working at KFNS she made some good connections. While sideline reporting was her goal, she recognized something else was calling.
“I steered away from that goal,” Frey said. “All of these sporting events I would cover required nights and weekends. What I really wanted was a family of six. (Only two more kids to go.) I wanted to be successful with a family, not spend all my time at a meaningless sports game.”
Frey is a true sports lover, evidenced by her being a four-sport athlete in high school. She played volleyball, basketball, softball, and ran track.
“Sports was always my passion,” Frey explained. “In the summer of 08, all I was talking about on the air was Barry Bonds, whether his home runs would stand up. It was then I realized I didn’t care enough about topics like that to make sports my life. I guess it was some sort of disconnect. Now I’m involved in news and politics. I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re on, you should have a heart and head for what’s going on.”
Frey still loves sports, but now it’s all about the heart, not a cerebral endeavor. She said sports is a business driven by success.
“What entertains sells,” Frey said. “You never really want to know how sausage is made. You almost don’t want to be too close to something where you end up losing the passion. I didn’t want to do the barstool sports thing. There was a specific role on the radio for female voices back then that wasn’t for me.”
Frey said it’s different with politics. She can plead her case with more meaning. It was a huge transformation from sports to politics, but Frey admits she had the right personality.
“I’m a nerd,” she said. “I was raised to be a nerd.”
While at KFNS, Frey contributed very little on the air with no real ambition to be behind the microphone.
“I was interested in traffic, loading PSA’s and commercials. I did some weather and business office stuff,” Frey explained. “I did scheduling for producers and part-timers. The last thing I took on was digital responsibility.”
Frey said the digital world now compared to 2008 is a light-year of difference.
“People wouldn’t recognize what managing a website was back then. It was almost primitive.”
Frey said she’s incredibly blessed to be surrounded by family, close to her family’s original home.
“All four of my grandparents were a big part of my life,” Frey said. “My paternal grandfather was stationed in the South Pacific in WWII. He met his wife, my grandmother, in Australia. They’d only known each other for a few months when they married. He sent her to the United States. She sailed to the West Coast, arrived in Union Station in St. Louis, and lived with my grandfather’s family.”
Frey said everyone assumed her freshly married grandmother was expecting a child, but that wasn’t the case. Her grandfather was a Captain in the Army. He drew maps of farms in Illinois. When he went into the army, his skills transferred to being a topographer during his service.
“My grandparents were influential in my life. They have a strong Christian faith. I use them as a guide to prioritize my life.”
As a kid, Frey listened to KMOX, which she said was on nearly all kitchen radios.
“Rush Limbaugh was on. I knew who he was at a young age. But then he was just another voice in the kitchen.”
Frey’s father was also in the radio business, spending 30 years in the St. Louis market. He did some on-air work and spent time as a program director.
“It was KFUO AM, a Lutheran radio station,” Frey explained. “I’m sure that was a contributing factor in my own radio dreams. He hosted a radio show, Ask The Pastor. They would discuss biblical concepts, take calls to answer questions.”
Her father taught her to listen and learn from his mistakes.
“He’d always tell me about having a listener-centric program,” Frey said. “There are a lot of people who have massive egos behind the microphone. He said you had to control the ego. He’d tell me, regardless of how bright and brilliant a person may be if somebody listening doesn’t think you’re serving them. That’s a critical mistake. My dad instilled that in me. Be humble.”
She said she enjoyed spending time in radio stations when her father was working.
“All of a sudden I realized not everybody’s dad worked in radio. He’s a great man of faith. His work helped him refine his faith. He helped people with complicated issues. I always thought he was cool to be on the radio.”
Frey observed how kindness, patience, and acceptance in our society are in incredibly short supply between people.
“I’m a white, suburban, minivan-driving woman. People think they could probably determine who I vote for–but they’d be wrong. Everybody has their own unique mind. Value comes from who we are on the inside, not the outside.
On her show, Frey said she doesn’t call people names. She doesn’t want to hear someone is bad because of the way they wear their hair, or what they wear.
“I always want to keep it about substance, not surface. I don’t want them to tune into my show to find out how ‘their side’ won today. I want them to listen, stay informed. I don’t want the clenched cheeks, blood pressures going up. Just exhale, let things out. Most people who listen to me are like-minded. They say, ‘I listen to your show. You’re willing to have the conversations.”
That’s easier when the four kids are at home.
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his new book: Talk To Me – Profiles on News Talkers and Media Leaders From Top 50 Markets, log on to Amazon or shoot Jim an email at email@example.com.
News Radio Should Celebrate Audio-First Decision From Ron DeSantis
As radio programmers, hosts, and salespeople, we should be doing cartwheels and leveraging this moment.
Ron DeSantis launched his 2024 Presidential run on Twitter Spaces on Wednesday night to much fanfare. By now, you’ve seen the hot takes on how the enthusiasm for DeSantis crashed Twitter or, depending on your preferred candidate, the rollout was a disaster and is a sign of things to come for his campaign. I’ll let the opposing campaigns and fanboys/girls, and news radio hosts hash that part out between themselves.
What’s far more interesting from a media perspective is DeSantis’ platform choice. It was not legacy media. He did not choose Fox News, Newsmax, etc., but more interesting was the fact he chose an audio-first medium on Twitter. There was no visual element at all.
Ron DeSantis did the equivalent of a radio interview to announce his 2024 bid. Yes, he hopped on Fox News later that evening with Trey Gowdy, but the official announcement and first media interview came on Twitter, without any video component.
As radio programmers, hosts, and salespeople, we should be doing cartwheels and leveraging this moment.
For too long, TV has been overrated. It’s been a perfect storm. You have politicians who love seeing themselves on TV to feed their egos, and many of their advisors and media buyers have backgrounds in the medium, so it becomes an echo chamber.
From the ridiculous overspending during election season on overproduced, phony, repetitive television spots that produce diminishing returns (rather than the far more cost-effective and impactful radio ads), to the obsession with capturing every TV opportunity they can, TV has become overvalued in recent elections.
Ron DeSantis’ decision on Wednesday night may have been the move that makes many realize where they have missed the boat in recent years.
If used in a calculating manner, DeSantis’ moment can benefit radio programming and sales.
Programmers should be pitching any of their local candidates in legitimate races that matter to try and get their candidacy announcement on radio. “If Ron DeSantis can go audio-first, why isn’t it good enough for you?” This would bring earned media for the candidate and radio station and the TV hits would follow.
On KCMO, we landed the announcement interview with former KC TV anchor Mark Alford, who used that springboard to win an open U.S. Congressional seat in 2022.
From a sales perspective, this could also be a game changer in helping PACs, agencies, and campaigns understand the personal nature of the audio-first medium, which radio still dominates, despite what the naysayers claim.
During the 2022 cycle, radio did exceed its estimates in political advertising with $310 million, compared to the projections of $270 million. But that’s peanuts compared to the $4.73 billion spent on broadcast TV, according to this article from Radio Insight.
That is absurd. And it is the very definition of diminishing returns. Whether it’s a Presidential candidate in a key state or city, or more appropriately for this column, a local U.S. Senate, or congressional, candidate in your market, there are two paths.
One, they can become another overplayed, tune-out TV ad, where their ego is stroked and they get noticed in the grocery store, but they don’t get the value from the spending they need.
Or, two, they can own radio, which will be more cost-effective, impactful, personal for the listener, oh, and reach a potential voter that is 10-15 years younger, on average, than those still watching broadcast TV.
None of this is to suggest that TV is not important, of course, it will forever be critical to have a visual component for politicians in the 21st century. But it’s not everything. It never has been and it never will be, despite what the differential in ad spending suggests.
If audio-first is a good enough launch for one of the front runners to land in the White House in 2024, I’d say it’s more than good enough for anyone else entering the political arena at any level.
Pete Mundo is the morning show host and program director for KCMO in Kansas City. Previously, he was a fill-in host nationally on FOX News Radio and CBS Sports Radio, while anchoring for WFAN, WCBS News Radio 880, and Bloomberg Radio. Pete was also the sports and news director for Omni Media Group at K-1O1/Z-92 in Woodward, Oklahoma. He’s also the owner of the Big 12-focused digital media outlet Heartland College Sports. To interact, find him on Twitter @PeteMundo.
Twitter Facing Several Questions After Multimedia Struggles
Everyone should have the ability to say what they want but that doesn’t mean they have the ability to make up their own truths that aren’t factually based.
When Kim Kardashian broke the internet and Twitter, we marveled and were astonished at her attempt and it worked. Her infamy continued to skyrocket more positively than negatively because she embraced her sexuality in a sensual but respectful way.
When TMZ broke the internet, they became a dependable source for news about celebrity deaths even if the method behind their madness was and still is pure madness.
On Wednesday, when Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis broke the internet it was just plain trash.
Your local waste management company couldn’t fix the travesty that was Wednesday night on Twitter. Tech issues, hosts having trouble connecting, listeners hearing nothing — that was the main story of what was allegedly supposed to be the launch of Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign.
On Twitter Spaces’ biggest night, it made the platform seem out of space and out of touch with the rest of society. When you fire key engineers from your staff, only allow groupthink in your office quarters, and don’t feel the need to answer to anyone because you’ll still get bank credit even if Twitter goes bankrupt, this is the result. Hubris.
At the beginning when things went haywire and nothing was working, the stream drew about 600,000 listeners. By the time the stream actually started working it was down to 100,000 concurrent listeners. Media journalist Oliver Darcy joked that more people are watching CNN at 3:00 AM than were listening to Twitter’s live stream.
With that being said, drawing 600,000 listeners is no small feat. If used effectively, Twitter can become an influential voice in this upcoming election.
Twitter, as a tool, has always been impactful. Journalists, commentators, and newsmakers have used its real-time functionality to shape the national conversation. Twitter as a company hasn’t played too much of an editorial role other than putting their name brand on town halls and debates until the Musk reign. The company has already been able to secure conservative brands Tucker Carlson and The Daily Wire to join their alliance. Both entities plan on posting daily videos to counter the “mainstream media narrative.”
It’s extremely smart to have them posting original content natively to the site. It will increase engagement, it’ll increase the amount of time users spend, and their success could convince other news organizations to produce content that is exclusive to the site.
In the past, Twitter has partnered with BuzzFeed and even the NFL to try and steal a share of television’s audience but it hasn’t proven profitable or viral. Tucker Carlson’s removal from Fox has caused a major splinter among conservative media audiences and could be an answer to Twitter’s content desires. They’ll be serving an audience that can’t find what they want anywhere else.
The problem Twitter faces is that it has already established itself as the place for real-time content and breaking news, as well as the most active social home for many of our country’s most reliable sources. Whether Elon Musk realizes this or not, he has a moral obligation to ensure the user experience stays as neutral as possible even if he wants the company to become a conservative brand.
Musk needs to make an effort to bring Democratic representatives in to commit to Twitter Spaces sessions as well. A conversation doesn’t exist if two sides of the spectrum aren’t involved and, eventually, interest in Twitter’s political media initiatives will die off because Dems will seek audiences on bigger platforms Twitter can’t compete with.
The Biden campaign could decide to solely focus on TV audiences, YouTube, and webinars just like they did in the last election and still have a chance to win, leaving Twitter’s efforts irrelevant. They could even use Twitter’s tools to promote themselves without the help of Musk. It won’t help Musk or Twitter the brand feel more reliable or trustworthy among Americans without allowing both sides to speak. Twitter has to sell itself to everyone as the tech home for political conversations in the world of fragmented media.
If he’s going to go the activist route with conservative Spaces by having supporters of a particular politician moderating the discussion, then he should do the same thing for Democratic politicians who appear on Spaces as well. A word of advice going forward, though: A journalist always makes the most sense. Journalists are trained to be objective and facilitate conversations for a living. Everyone knows how to cook scrambled eggs, but I guarantee you Rachael Ray’s scrambled eggs hit differently.
Twitter can look to CNN as an example of what happens when a town hall is technologically sound and the moderator treats their panelist with fairness. Since Trump’s town hall, CNN has been able to garner time with Mike Pence and Nikki Haley. Both candidates saw the jump that the town hall gave Trump in attention and hype among his base and, quite frankly, understand that they can reach more people on TV than online. Trump’s town hall reached 3 million viewers. After DeSantis left his Twitter Spaces, he promoted his candidacy on Fox News to the tune of 2 million viewers, ironically Fox’s largest audience since Carlson was let go.
Musk also needs to create a tab dedicated to news and have running video options and audio options that display straight news along with conservative and liberal opinionists. These feeds are already available on other platforms. Why not sell advertising against it and keep viewers right on Twitter where they are already having the discussions? The best thing about Twitter’s old BuzzFeed morning show is that you could multitask.
You could catch up on news and thoughts on your feed while live video discussing what was trending could be placed towards the bottom of your phone screen with the window in window option on Apple devices. Users didn’t have to leave the app to catch up on what was happening in the world.
Allowing Carlson and The Daily Wire to become the only two sources of media that are promoted or favored on the app will only heighten tension before the election and will literally put lives at stake because of the possibility of both outlets spreading misinformation.
This goes into the next idea to make Musk’s “public square” a safe and accurate space for everyone. Musk needs to either contract or hire fact-checkers. The fact-checkers should be in charge of verifying Community Notes, adding Community Notes to streams/videos/tweets that are posted by publishers to correct or clarify anything that was said, and creating videos of their own based on trending topics or viral videos that aren’t accurate.
Everyone should have the ability to say what they want but that doesn’t mean they have the ability to make up their own truths that aren’t factually based.
Jessie Karangu is a weekly columnist for BNM, and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for news and sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He also previously wrote a weekly column for our sports media brand, Barrett Sports Media. Jessie can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
AM Radio Will Still Ride Along…For Now
The math itself is simple. You don’t use what you don’t want. And you probably won’t use what you don’t believe you need.
In our last chapter on the fight to keep the AM radio in your car, things were not looking so good for the Sunday morning religious shows, exhaustingly predictable talk hosts, and the largely underpaid local news anchors.
But Ford has apparently heard the call from lawmakers, FEMA, and a variety of other concerned citizens, enough at least that they have announced they will back off their plans to do away with AM band in their new vehicles. For now, at least.
So, I will say the U-Turn decision by Ford is nice. Yes, I would venture to say it is nice. But is this a victory or merely a stay of execution?
And since no matter what, AM radio is not disappearing or soon to become unavailable, why don’t we just say this is more a case of bail continued until sentencing day.
What it means is there will be more cars and trucks with AM radios on our roads than we thought there would be last week.
How much of an impact will it make? I don’t think it will make much at all.
There are still a lot more car manufacturers going ahead with their plans to do away with AM so the math will not be grounds for celebration.
The math itself is simple. You don’t use what you don’t want. And you probably won’t use what you don’t believe you need. Even if you might need it now and then.
My vehicle has a trailer hitch. I don’t use that either. I don’t need it. It just happens to be there.
In other words, it does nothing for me and for many people neither does AM radio.
Where do you think these car makers got the idea in the first place to take the AM band out of the vehicles?
I’m sure they asked a few people.
How likely are you to not buy this car if it doesn’t have an AM radio in it?
Ever hear of market research? We did this already.
I’m glad, for now at least, that a few more people will have a choice. We deserve that. We are the ones buying stuff. Treat us with respect.
I have expressed this opinion before. You can put an AM radio everywhere but if the content is not worth the effort, then all it becomes is a receptacle for go-to emergency broadcasts and possibly some inane chatter or white noise to fall asleep by.
I’ve said this before too: Give them something worth listening to and they might listen. They might give it a try and they might actually like it. But here is the trick. Now that you have them, how do you keep them?
Well, now you must be consistently good or at least not awful. That’s harder than it seems, just zigzag across the country and find out.
Oh, when you do you have to turn your AM radio on and keep it on. No cheating, no flipping to the FM or satellite or your own playlists or podcasts or audiobooks.
Could you do it?
The blame for subpar content or a lack of listener-friendly programming is not all the fault of those behind the microphone or those producing, writing, or booking. But you already know that and so do I.
So just look up.
If management or corporate executives are physically upstairs as opposed to around the corner or down the hall. My experience over the last few years has been they are rarely in the building.
But regardless of where they physically might be they are often the ones behind all that glitters or does not.
I have found a good clue to what you might be getting on the air can be taken from a glimpse at the station’s website.
Most stations and managers put a great deal of emphasis on driving viewers, listeners, and readers to their home page. So, go there but go past the landing page with the obligatory three web stories that are less than 24 hours old and delve a bit deeper.
You are most likely to find a lot of material from last week, last month, and even last year if you click on a few sections. Some outlets I have some familiarity with have a mostly corporate-run website with plenty of room though for local elements like news stories, programming schedules, and show host biographies.
You’d think at minimum they would update their lineups, their show schedules, and add some information to entice that reader back to the air product. You’d think.
Nostalgic as I might be, I do not particularly care who was hosting in 2021 nor do I want to listen to an interview with a losing mayoral candidate from a year and a half ago. If your air drives somebody to your website or vice-versa, there should be something of value waiting there for them.
Remember, respect for the audience, the customer is always right, or karma is a …
Back on that cross-country trip, you are likely to find some good things in your travels, largely local and national sports talk, maybe a bit of financial chat, or solid religious conversation. But is it enough to fight off the eviction of AM from your car?
And don’t forget the demographics. The only time my kid listened to the AM band was to hear me (once) and even that took a bit of prompting. Her generation and the one after her, are the last chance to bring on some additional support.
After then, who will be listening?
Tell us why these stations need to stay there when we can generally find them or what they offer in other configurations.
Just as I asked last time, what can AM do that others cannot?
If I know my gene pool, my grandchildren are not going to be fighting for AM radio in their space boats or their flying cars.
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.