Women to Watch: Joanna Baumann


(By Charese Fruge’) Joanna Baumann is Vice President of Marketing & Partnerships for iHeartMedia Las Vegas and Morning Co-Host on Sunny Mornings with Joanna and Sean. She starts her day co-hosting on Sunny 106.5 and ends her day overseeing the day-to-day Marketing and Partnership for the cluster, which includes Sunny 106.5, 95.5 The Bull, 93.1 The Mountain, and REAL 103.9.

This July, she celebrates 15 years in Las Vegas having moved from Chicago in 2009. She started in the business at CBS Radio (at the time) with Country station US99 – 99.5, WUSN, doing promotions. She moved to Las Vegas after college, having decided she wanted to wake up where there would be sunshine every day. “I was very fortunate at the time; I got a job helping to launch MetroPCS in the market. I worked at their corporate office in Las Vegas handling the marketing. Because MetroPCS was new to Vegas and expanding rapidly in the market, there was a big budget for advertising, which allowed me to make great connections in print, outdoor, TV, and radio, so when there was an opportunity to get back into radio, I jumped at the chance.”

“I accepted the role of Marketing Director in 2012 with Clear Channel. Within four years my responsibilities grew, and I was promoted to Vice President of Marketing & Partnerships and around that same time, our SVP of Programming, JoJo Turnbeaugh, and KSNE PD and Morning Host (at that time), Chris Pickett, asked me if I would be interested in being on-air. The rest is history. I joined the morning show on Sunny 106.5 and very rapidly sales provided me with many opportunities to host events, make appearances, and handle endorsements.”

“Fast forward through several years, and several morning show partners later, the company brought in Sean Strife from Detroit, launching “Sunny Mornings with Joanna and Sean,” in October 2023. I’ve been with iHeartMedia for 12 years, 8 of which are on-air in Morning Drive at Sunny 106.5.”

Let’s get to the juicy stuff first. Any “what happens in Vegas” stories to share with us? “There were lots of nights early on in my Vegas life that involved plenty of shots with Pauly Shore, Busta Rhymes, and the cast of Jersey Shore, to name a few randoms… but I’m a Mom now, those chapters are closed. LOL”

Any good celeb sightings or incidents you’ve been a part of? “Most recently, I got very lucky and was able to be at all three Stanley Cup games at T-Mobile Arena in 2023 to watch our Vegas Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup. For two of those three games (we must have had the same ticket connection), my husband and I sat next to Davante Adams, wide receiver for the Las Vegas Raiders. As a Raiders fan, I was freaking out, but played it cool and Davante was a very nice guy who chatted it up with my husband and I. Talk about lucky seats!!”

“But my favorite celeb interaction… back in 2016, was meeting Charlie Hunnam. I was a HUGE Sons of Anarchy fan at the time. One of my good friends had a connection with someone who happened to be Charlie’s casino host and told my friend and me to hang out at a bar outside of where Charlie was having dinner that night. Right place at the right time! And bam, he casually walked Charlie by. We pretended we didn’t know the casino host and went up to Charlie and told him we were huge fans of the show. Charlie was kind and chill and talked with us, and even took pictures with us, it was amazing.”

How is the Las Vegas Radio market different from the rest of those across the country? “Competition and Community! We are lucky, most of our morning shows are local in this market, but that makes it very competitive for sure. There are a lot of great hosts who have been part of the Vegas landscape for years and have done a great job engaging themselves in the community, building huge fan bases, so it’s competitive to get in there and try and grab the attention of new listeners.”

“What’s also unique is we have access to unlimited entertainment. Almost to the point at times, feeling a bit oversaturated if I’m going to be honest. We are marketing so many shows at all times that you have to find the balance between keeping it exciting to listeners and making advertisers happy. But those local strip celebs do always come out and support our causes. So there’s that.”

“Not to be cheesy, but it’s all exciting to me, everything about the Vegas market. Year after year, what we do in this business is never the same, which is why I love this industry so much. We have to constantly be in creative mode. I started something called, ‘Women Who Shine’ on Sunny a few years back, where we highlight women in our community, through Las Vegas’ largest microphone. We aired their voices and highlighted their opinions throughout the entire month of International Women’s Month (March). Year one was such a huge success; I had the competition messaging me and telling me what a homerun that promo was and the next year… they copied it.”

“I love having the chance to be the first on something and being a trendsetter. I have had stations through the years copy ideas I’ve put out there and when I see a version of it being done after, I just smile. I had a very well-known on-air personality in our market recently tell me, ‘Anytime I’m short on ideas, I turn on Sunny to see what you all are doing.’  That to me is exciting. Competition is exciting. Friendly, of course. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?!”

“So far, I think my biggest accomplishment in the business is having to juggle two roles, but never letting anything fall through the cracks and doing both jobs very well. I am VERY proud of an event I created in 2022 called ‘Las Vegas’ Largest Baby Shower.’ When I announced on-air in 2021 that I was pregnant, I had total strangers saying, “We want to send you something!” I didn’t need or want anything. So after a few conversations and a lot of thought, I created “Las Vegas’ Largest Baby Shower,” where my incredible partners at Live Nation joined me in giving back to mothers and families in need here in Las Vegas.

The annual event now helps an organization called, ‘Baby’s Bounty.’  In year one, we rolled it out quickly because I was going on maternity leave. But the concept is listeners donate $100 in diapers or cash and receive a pair of tickets to a Live Nation show. Those donations help 1,600 families in need in our community who cannot afford diapers for their babies and the event continues to grow year after year. Plus for me, it’s a constant reminder that this type of promotion impacts local families and was created because of my son… the best.”

“So far, my biggest challenge throughout my career has been me. Getting out of my own head. Second-guessing decisions I’ve made, comments I said on-air, caring about my Mom bod too much when hosting an event,” says Baumann. “Until you fully embrace, the ‘It is what it is’ mentality you’ll always second guess and that’s not a fun way to navigate your career. Own it. Own your voice. Own your body. We get one shot at this lifetime, if you are a good person to your core, you are going to be OK, get out of your head!”

“Being a working Mom is tough. Early on in my career, I said yes to everything. Which in hindsight I think was good for me. I was worried saying no would disappoint people or I would miss out on something. Now that I am a Mom, being a good Mom is #1. And I won’t get this time back with my son ever again, so it has to be my priority. The only way to get balance now is to say no to things that I am not 100% excited to do or be part of outside of my work time. I’m so glad I said yes to everything before becoming a Mom because the relationships I built respect me and love working with me even if I say no to something here and there these days. That took years to build. Years of ‘Yes.’  I have earned my right now to say ‘No’ with ZERO guilt.”

“Being more authentic is my goal for 2024,” says Baumann. “Sharing my life with no second guessing. I’m putting it all out there. During the global pandemic, I was battling infertility and loss (miscarriages). I was sad all the time. But you can’t be sad on a station called ‘SUNNY’ during a time when the whole world is sad. It was tough for me to not live my authentic life on-air during that time and hide from everyone what I was battling behind closed doors. When I was on the other side of infertility and was able to get pregnant and carry my son successfully, I shared my infertility story on air and never had that type of positive reaction before.”

So many women (and a few men) thanked me for sharing my story and told me I was brave to do it. And so many women then felt comfortable telling me about their infertility too. Living authentically on-air reminded me I wasn’t alone. I regretted not sharing my struggles sooner because I could have helped people with the same struggle sooner.”

My partner Sean was very supportive and sharing my story was very freeing, and the support I got from the community was endearing. Talking about it on the air was the best thing I could have done, living an authentic life out loud. Take it or leave it. That’s what’s up for me in 2024!”

Follow @JoVegasRadio or connect on Facebook: @Joanna Baumann.

Charese Fruge’ is an award-winning Content, Broadcast, and Marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, San Diego, and Las Vegas. As the owner of MC Media, she works with radio brands and individual talents, especially young women, helping them grow their brands and negotiate on their own behalf. Find her at @MCMediaOnline. See more Women to Watch here.



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