Charese Fruge’ (@MCMediaonline) Talks To Martica Lopez – All Access Music Group

Martica Lopez is the Music Director and Afternoon Drive Host for Cox Hot AC WFLC, (Hits 97.3)/Miami. Her responsibilities include programming music, building and maintaining relationships with the record labels, and staying on top of what’s happening in the community in South Florida, all while being an on-air personality. Outside of her responsibilities for WFLC, she also does voiceover work in English and Spanish, hosts/ emcees events, and creates content on TikTok.

Martica was born and raised in Miami and has been in the public eye since she was 3- years-old. She started her career in the beauty pageant circuit. In 2007, her life changed when she participated in the reality show “Nuestra Belleza Latina” (Our Latin Beauty) and was one of the top twelve finalists. This is where her nickname “La Chiquita Picosa” (The Spicy Little One) was coined.

After the show, she was offered a record deal but decided to focus on her studies and finish her degree in Broadcast Journalism. In 2011, before graduating with her degree in Mass Communications from Florida International University, she interned for SBS-Miami and before her internship was over, she was offered a position as a producer and reporter for Paparazzi Magazine.

In 2012, she participated in a pilot reality show in Miami called the “Ultimate Miami Girl” and was chosen as the first prize winner of her round. She made it into the semi-finals of the competition and because of her participation, she was offered a position as the “Vanna White” for the world-renowned Magic City Casino where she hosted game shows and the “Ultimate Miami” reality show. In 2016, she was asked to participate again on the VIP version of “Nuestra Belleza Latina” on Univision and made top twenty-five of the competition.

But Martica was destined for radio. Her career in the industry began when she became a traffic reporter for Total Traffic and Weather Network in Miami. She worked for various English and Spanish Language radio stations in 3 Florida markets including WZTU, WMIA, WBGG, WIOD, WINZ, WHYI (Miami), WRLX (West Palm Beach) plus WRUM, and WDBO (Orlando).

In 2017, she moved to Saint Petersburg and became the midday host for the Tampa Bay Latin Pop station 92.5 Maxima (WYUU). Fast forward to today, and she’s living the dream at WFLC and working in her hometown of Miami. “Where do I even begin?” she asks. “I have had the privilege to meet, interview, and present artists who I admire in this business, like Gabriel Iglesias, Martin Moreno, J. Balvin, Wisin y Yandel, Prince Royce, and Maluma just to name a few. I’ve also emceed events that are very near and dear to my heart like the ‘Women in Distress’ luncheon to raise funds for women who have suffered from domestic violence like myself.”

“I’ve also had the honor to make someone’s day by gifting them a pair of tickets to a concert they really wanted to go to. Like I had a listener whose son was a HUGE J.

Balvin fan, and I had an extra pair of tickets to see him in Orlando and I was able to give that little boy his first concert experience. He knew every single song and every single lyric, and to be sitting next to that little boy (who’s no longer little by the way) and watch him experience that is a core memory for me, says Lopez. “And I still get excited to be able to make someone’s day by giving them a simple birthday shout out on the air.”

“However, one of my biggest accomplishments to date was moving out on my own in 2017. I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for WYUU/Tampa Bay and moving for the job was a ‘big’ move for me,” she says. “Some might say my biggest accomplishment was participating in ‘Nuestra Belleza Latina’ in both 2007 and 2016, but I beg to differ. I left everything behind in 2017 to pursue my career and it was the scariest and most fulfilling thing I have ever done. Moving to a city where you don’t have any friends or family can be a very challenging thing. It forced me to get out my comfort zone and discover who I was at my core. Thanks to my time at WYUU, it opened the door for me to be where I am now, working in the city where I grew up and having my friends and family listen to me every day on the airwaves.”

One of Lopez’s biggest challenges in the industry is a familiar story. “Being a woman in this industry is very hard,” she says. “From being called a groupie, to being looked at as just a sexual object, to being bullied online, it is not an easy feat to be a woman in media. You learn with time that the best way to handle any sort of challenge in this industry is to kill people with kindness,” says Lopez. “When I first started out, I would respond to my ‘haters’ online because I felt the need to defend myself. As you grow, you realize that when you respond to said ‘haters,’ you’re wasting your time and your energy on something that doesn’t deserve it. Use that energy for more productive things. As cliché as it may sound, people are always going to have an opinion on your life, so why not live it the way you want to.”

“My biggest motto in life is to NEVER take away someone’s ability to provide for their family,” Lopez adds. “I have seen it done so many times (and it has also happened to me) where people will stab you in the back or throw dirt on your name to get ahead in their career or to take your spot and that’s not the way to go about it. If an opportunity is meant for you, you don’t have to push someone out of the way to get it. So, my advice to women who want to make it in this industry is: not everything is a competition so don’t think of it that way. Women are constantly being pitted against each other instead of empowering one another. Just because someone ‘shines’ differently than you, doesn’t make them better than you, they just fit the bill for said opportunity.”

As the industry expands and digital and social content become a large part of the responsibility of on-air talent, so does engaging and holding a younger audience. If the traditional radio industry is going to survive and grow, we’ve got to capture loyalty, engagement and growth among Millennials and Gen Z. I asked Lopez how we do that. “The best way to capture an audience is by being yourself. I know, I know, something else that is super cliché but it’s the honest truth,” she says. “I have witnessed it myself on my TikTok account. My content on there is about music, concerts, celebrity gossip and I went from having 10k to 56k in a matter of weeks all because I was putting up content that I wanted to post, not what I thought people wanted to see. That’s the key I think, with both radio and social, talking about, or uploading the content you want and having your tribe find you and start following you, and cross promoting your platforms to help market both.”

As a woman who prides herself on her Cuban heritage, I also asked Lopez her thoughts on whether we (radio) as an industry have moved the needle at all when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Eh… I’ve seen the needle move a little bit,” she says. “Take me for instance, I am a Latina woman who is a music director in a top ten market. 10 years ago, that was a rare thing to see, and I feel like more and more women are in power positions in 2022. Can we do more to improve? ABSOLUTELY! However, I think jobs and positions should be filled not based on a quota of diversity but more so because they have the qualifications to do so. I don’t want someone to give me a job because I am a Latina woman. I want someone to hire me because I have all the professional requisites to be there. The fact that I am a Latina woman should be an added bonus. I don’t know if that makes any sense.”

Despite her background and very public career, Lopez says she thinks most people would be surprised to find out that she is a homebody. “Do not let my social media account fool you,” she says. “It’s funny, my high school BFFs tell me all the time ‘if people only knew how much you love staying in and watching ‘Sex and The City’ re-runs, they would be in shock.’ When I’m not at an event for work, or on the air, I really do love to just lay in my bed and be lazy all day.”

What keeps her up at night? “Watching TikTok/Reels till 4am. Kidding not kidding,” she says. “But on a serious note: the thought that I am not good enough in all aspects of my life. When my father passed away, the first thing I thought was: I didn’t do enough as a daughter. I still think that till this day and even with hours of therapy, that little thought doesn’t go away. My inner ‘saboteur’ as RuPaul would call it has always been my worst trait. When I make a mistake, I will beat myself up about it for days on end. Is it healthy? No. Is it productive? HELL NO! Am I still a work in progress. FACTS! Even when I am on the air, I constantly second guess if the audience likes me. Do they identify with what I have to say? Trust me, I’ve lost hours of sleep thinking about all those things.”

How does she find balance? “I don’t. At least not lately. I am not going to sit here and sugar coat things when it’s not my reality,” explains Lopez. “There are times I leave the station at midnight because I have things to record or music to program. Ever since I moved back to Miami, it’s been a struggle to find a work/life balance. Hopefully one I day I will be able to, but in the meantime, I am still trying to figure out what it means to be back in my hometown after being away for so long.”

“When that happens, I would like to start my own podcast at some point,” she adds. “I’ve made several appearances on my friend’s podcast, and I even started one about ‘The Bachelor’ franchise right before the pandemic hit but I still haven’t found my niche. Right now, I feel like my TikTok account has become my baby and I’m hoping to reach at least 100k followers by the end of the year.”

You can help Martica do so by following her on TikTok @MarthaMariaLopezTv. Or follow her on Instagram @ItsMarticaLopez and Twitter @MarthaMLopezTv.