Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Grasso.
Linda, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was a girl growing up in Maryland I always love telling stories (sometimes true; other times no so true) and writing letters. When I went to summer sleep-away camp, in the free time, other girls would pay tetherball and sit and talk. I’d be in the cabin sprawled on my bunk bed, writing letters to friends and relatives. So I guess it is no surprise that I would up being a journalist. I’ve worked in every medium. I started out as an on-air reporter and anchor for several news stations—including KTTV here in LA—and then I moved to E! Entertainment TV.
At E! I was a correspondent on E! News and host for numerous shows (this was back before the Kardashians took over the network). I was at E! almost eight years but left to be a stay-at-home mom to my two sons. At the time my husband, Charlie Koones, had a job that was really intense and required a lot of travel and I just felt one of us needed to be home more. (He is now co-owner and managing partner of The Golden State Company, a media company, and advertising agency.)
I also wanted to experience being a full-time mom before the boys entered the teen years. After about five years I got itchy. I missed being creative and having something of my own. There was a period of struggle where I lost my mojo. Our society is not very kind to women who have been at home with the kids and are trying to re-enter the job market. Having lived in Encino for 20 years, I took a job as founding editor of Ventura Blvd. It is now a successful, 8-year-old high-end lifestyle magazine and digital platform.
With some of LA’s most talented photographers and writers, we curate and create editorial content about the San Fernando Valley ranging from art to culture to people to food—all the stuff locals really care about. The reason VB has been successful in an industry where all you hear about is a failure is simple: you can’t get these kinds of Valley stories presented in an artistic, highly editorial manner elsewhere. And people truly care about their ‘hood. It is where they spend 80% of their disposable income.
Plus, the Valley has really become a happening place in recent years, with an influx of Westsiders, rising property prices and just a ton of residential development. Plus big-name TV chefs have opened eateries along Ventura Boulevard like Ludo Lefebvre and Phillip Frankland Lee. With so much activity along the Boulevard a.k.a. “restaurant row,” we created VB’s The Sauce, a weekly subscriber email blast, that’s been quite popular.
In the fall of 2017, I took on another endeavor—one I am super passionate about. I created the SheSez with Linda Grasso podcast. I watch CBS This Morning while I’m getting ready every morning and I kept thinking: I miss that. How could I possibly get back into on-air interviewing? My entire career had always been about getting someone else to give me permission, validate me, give me the thumbs up. In every case, the decision maker has been a man sitting across a desk from me.
Podcasting seemed the perfect solution: a one-woman show where it was all up to me. No validation required. I greenlit myself. And it felt damn good.
SheSez is essentially a master class focused on the art of being a modern woman. On the 30-minute show, I interview some of today’s most badass women–artists, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and innovators—who are defying odds, breaking barriers and living life on their own terms.
We tackle the big issues that keep women up at night and the challenges that daunt us.
From breaking ground in business to pivoting to a more fulfilling job to progressive approaches in wellness, parenting, and sex, the SheSez conversation is always candid, real and inspirational. The guests range from 26-year-old Alex Hanifin who didn’t get into a single college she applied to and founded Alpine Start instant coffee (in Whole Foods nationwide) to 78-year-old Sheila Nevins.
President of HBO Documentaries. Sheila, shared her secrets for staying at the top in an industry that views a woman at forty past her prime.
The common thread throughout my career has been an ability to get right to the root of issues that people (especially women) care about and connect with interviewees and get them to open up in ways that they might not otherwise. It’s probably my true super-power. For me, SheSez is the culmination of everything I have done professionally and a true outgrowth of who I am.
I’ve recorded more than 80 episodes, and it has been incredibly rewarding. SheSez is striking a chord in a real, visceral way that has surprised even me. Some of our listeners are trying to craft their next chapter—many of whom left jobs to raise kids—and the kids are in school full time, and they are looking for some inspiration. Other listeners are working women seeking a change, trying to get the path of something more fulfilling.
We also have a healthy group of 20 and 30 something listeners. These women are a really empowered group; they want to be their own bosses and to learn from other women who have created, innovated and achieved. My goal this year is to partner with a platform or content creator to grow SheSez in a substantive way. That, and helping women realize their potential is why I’m in this game.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Spending time with my grandmother; she and I always connected. She made me feel so loved and understood. I got my love of fashion and my “gift of gab” from her. When I first started my on-air career, I would get very nervous doing live shots.
Someone suggested I pretend that I was looking into the eyes of someone who loved me unconditionally. I pretended the camera was my grandmother and it worked. I did it my entire on-air career. She was very social and active—always impeccably coiffed and attired— until she had a stroke in her nineties. I still think of her all the time.