Brooke is contagious in that way all the fabulous girls are…like the first ones we befriend in Kindergarten because they have sparkles on their lunch boxes. When she sneezes we kind of want to catch whatever cold she has because, whatever it is…it works for her. The California native doesn’t walk, but breezes into rooms she enters, her trademark lengthy lashes and blonde hair extensions preceding her. If she had a theme song playing movie-style, I think it would be Britney Spears’ version of I Love Rock ‘N Roll (emphasis on the “owwww”). This is what makes people like her, and makes me want to throw on a pair of flirty aviators, grab my sassiest handbag, and go shopping with her. This is a charisma she wears…actually more than wears, because she couldn’t wash it off with bleach and a brillo pad…maybe it’s more like a really cool birthmark…but after sitting down with her for a few minutes, I realized there’s more to this bubbly air wave fave than the parts that glitter. It’s hard to see at first glance, because she just shines so brightly, but it’s there. It’s in her humility, her short-comings, her rare lackluster, that she’s so human…and so admirable.
The girl who got her seemingly unshakable confidence from performing plays for her family, cheering on Friday nights, and competing in beauty pageants, learned she loved the spotlight early on. However, this experience didn’t make her the quintessential attention-seeking diva we might try to paint a picture of in our minds. It instead created a girl who loved to contend…but learned to critique herself, learned to take responsibility for her losses, and learned to always try again. As Brooke told me her story, she seemed to focus on times she had to re-evaluate decisions, go back to the drawing board, or pound pavement. Then I realized, this is why she is successful. This is why she became Charleston’s “it-girl” of radio broadcasting. It is in her hustle that comes from a unique self-awareness that is scarcely found anymore.
Brooke has had to gather her strength more than once to find her way. At twenty years old she lost her beautiful singing voice; one that was so promising she even opened for the 90s band, B2K. However, fate twisted in that cruel way it likes to do, and due to a case of laryngitis she contracted on a cruise, her voice slipped away. This was followed by vocal nodules that ended her hopes at persuing singing any further. In an instant, the talent that had become her identity was simply gone. More recently, she’s had to deal with long painstaking absences from her spouse due to his military duty. However, every day she keys up that husky voice we all love, and helps us forget it’s Monday for a second, or that the power bill is due again, or that we’re battling our own monsters. She perks up, makes us laugh, and spreads love throughout the LowCountry from her magical spot in a parallel universe on the other side of our dashboards. She doesn’t show us the girl who learned from her mother “you only cry in the car.” She doesn’t resent the tunes she spins of those who didn’t tragically lose their voices. She doesn’t make our morning commute heavier by telling us how she curled up and bawled with her cat in the cold spot on the couch where her husband should be. No. Instead she says to me, “I should have taken better care of my voice. That was my fault.” She follows that with, “I am proud of what my husband does for his country.” She dives into the part of herself that fixes things, finds silver linings, and keeps creating goodness above all else. She takes solace in the fact that she has an incredible husband willing to sacrifice, and that the thing that took her singing pipes away gifted her a radio-ready tone that’s undeniable.
Brooke was able to find ultimate success in her journey, and challenges others to do the same. However, she lovingly, and almost comically tells it like it is. She says to her own generation, “Start a YouTube channel. Start a podcast. Start a blog. Do something!” Personally, that was the best advice I’d gotten all week…that, and “wait until you’re in the car to cry.” Afterall, once the tears start flowing you can just crank up the radio to Mix 96 and let Brooke fix ya right up. And she won’t mind a bit; because making you smile is her own best medicine.~
by Lorna Hollifield
For more on Brooke Ryan tune into Mix 96 or follow the links below!