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Shannon Farren Charged Head First Into Her Career at KFI

“I wanted to use my mind more. I wanted to flex that muscle.”

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Her radio career has been impressive. Every morning, Shannon Farren co-hosts The Gary and Shannon Show on KFI AM 640 from 9:00 AM-1:00 PM. The show debuted in 2015, teeming with veteran news anchors/reporters to discuss politics, pop culture, as well as local news and entertainment.

But who cares about that crap? Farren is the sideline reporter for the Los Angeles Chargers!

“The first play I ever saw up close was a Melvin Gordon run,” said Farren.  “Melvin was tackled after a three-yard gain. Well, not as much a tackle as it was a car crash. Talk about a hard hit, I thought Gordon was dead. When Gordon pops up, you realize that’s just another play on another day.”

Since she first moved to Los Angeles, she wanted this job. She explained how you see so much more from the sidelines than you ever could as a fan. Farren said the first thing that you notice is these guys running around the field are like blocks of granite. Quicker than you can ever imagine. Gargantuan lineman who can outrun referees.

“I began to see how plays developed, how players made their blocks,” Farren said. “It took me a few seasons to really start feeling what I was seeing. What was happening scheme-wise.”

On the sidelines of a professional football field, you have to stay in the present or you will get run over. This isn’t TV, this is the real thing.

“I am constantly learning during game week,” Farren said. “I pay specific attention to injuries, story lines, who has had rest days, who is looking for their big game in front of their hometown, where players are on milestones.”

Farren strives to key-in on personal stories and goes beyond the X’s and O’s.

Looks for the human connection to players. When game time nears, she keys in.

“That’s when I hear conversations among players, feel the mood, see who is chirping at who. It’s all about what I’m seeing at that point and convey that to the listener.”

Farren is not merely about play-by-play or statistics. She relates to the booth what she sees, what she wants the listeners to see. Farren offers information you can’t get elsewhere. She describes the scene when a player wincing after a hit. Or another who was trying to conceal a limp.

Heck, just being able to watch football on the field every Sunday is the biggest perk. As a lifelong fan of the NFL, Farren is proof dreams come true.

“I love being a part of the Chargers organization,” she said. “They make you feel like family.”

Farren went to Chico State. Why Chico State?

“My brother had gone to school there when I was in high school so I guess that was the selling point for my parents,” Farren said. “Everything pointed toward that school. My favorite number was 32. Highway 32 went right through Chico State, so I took that as a sign.”

During school breaks and summers, Farren worked at a deli in her hometown. There was a friend of the store owner who asked her, “Hey, do you need to work up there at Chico?” Farren said, “Sure.” He said, “Well, one of my friends still works at a radio station. I’ll give her your number.”

That’s all it took. It didn’t take Farren long to become more interested in getting back to the radio station than she was in going to her classes.

“My parents really loved radio when I was young,” she said. “There was a lot of commuting from San Francisco to Marin County. We’d listen to a lot of radio while driving and we always paid attention to the radio.”

Farren began interning at KPAY. Within a couple of weeks, she was doing overnight weather. Still in school, she got up at  2:00 in the morning and clicked on the radio to hear her voice.

“At 2:06, I would turn on the radio, and I’d be like, ‘It’s my weather report.’ It was just such a kick.”

Farren did some evening shifts, and some overnight work, and loved it all.

“I like to tell it like it is,” she said. “On FM, you’ve always gotta upbeat and into it, and everything’s gotta be positive. And that’s great and I love FM personalities. It just wasn’t gonna be me every day. And I wanted to use my mind more. I wanted to flex that muscle.”

Those rigorous mind exercises are probably what directed Farren toward reporting, which she did for KPAY. While finishing school, she applied at KFBK in Sacramento and got a job there.

At KFI, Farren anchored the news. One day PD Robin Bertolucci approached Farren about doing a show.

I thought, ‘Me?’ She told me we’d try it out on the weekends. Apparently, she liked it and told me I had the show. I’m eternally grateful to her for that.”

Farren’s biggest fear was that she’d run out of things to say on the air. That’s never been a problem, another unfounded fear, she said.

She had to earn her stripes early on in her career. During the holidays and as all PDs know, that’s when you put the 21-year-old on the air when your regulars are enjoying the holidays at home.

“I was pretty young and I remember anchoring Christmas Day,” Farren said.

Since she was basically the only warm body at the station, she picked up the Scott Peterson story shortly after Laci Peterson disappeared.

“I remember the scene very well,” Farren said. “The grass on the Peterson’s lawn was lush and green. It’s strange that I remember something like that.”

As we all know it became a huge story and KFBK did the right thing–they replaced Farren and assigned a more experienced reporter to the case.

There are tough stories a reporter finds difficult to forget. Farren talked about a shooting at a hair salon in Seal Beach, California where eight people were killed.

“When I got there the carnage was fresh,” Farren explained. “The bodies were still inside the salon. Seal Beach is a tight-knit area.” Farren said she could feel the emotion on the streets. She’s also covered standoffs, a murder trial involving a four year-old girl.

“The girl’s father threw her off a cliff because he didn’t want to pay child support. Sometimes you’re overcome at the scene,” Farren said.

Like many of us, she has become transfixed with the Alex Murdaugh trial.

“It’s a fact there have been numerous bodies piled up in just a few years with this family,” Farren said. “The family has deep roots in the small town and have been running the legal system for generations. A teenage girl died on a boat the younger son Paul owned and was driving. Then a mother and son are murdered. And then there’s Alex himself, who survived his own execution and seems to have a personality disorder.”Oh Boy! I smell a Low Country movie in the works.

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1 Comment

  1. Margarita Sierra

    February 23, 2024 at 9:48 am

    I love Gary and Shannon show. They are so intelligent. I wake up and listen all the time. They make me laugh with sometimes even cry. They’re always informing us about everything that’s going on in the world. Most importantly what’s going on here in the USA. Keep up the great work you do. I’ve learned so much by listening to your show. I’m 76 yrs old and I’m so happy you send us all great information. Blessings to you all at KFI 640 am radio station. I tell all my family and friends to listen to your show. Thank you Gary and Shannon, stay safe 💖 Maggie Sierra

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News Media Should Have Thrown Shade at Eclipse Hysteria

Just stop it. You know better.

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A photo of an eclipse

The news media coverage of the eclipse this week was borderline ridiculous.

“In the cozy corners of our homes, where the laughter of our children should resonate
with joy and curiosity, a shadow has been cast—not by the celestial ballet of the sun and moon during a total eclipse, but by the media’s relentless frenzy surrounding these celestial events. As a parent watching this unfold, I can’t help but feel a mix of frustration and concern.”

Those aren’t my words. They were posted earlier this week on LinkedIn by a man named Chuck Leblo. He continues: “. . . the media’s approach to covering total eclipses has shifted from educational and awe-inspiring to sensational and anxiety-inducing.”

I’ve never met Mr. Leblo. He describes himself as a strategist and professional problem
solver. More to the point, he’s a family man with uncommonly common sense.

“Gone are the days when an eclipse was a chance for families to gather, armed with nothing but protective glasses and a sense of wonder, to watch the moon dance with the sun. Instead, we’re bombarded with headlines screaming about potential disasters, the dangers of improper viewing, and an array of eclipse-induced calamities waiting to befall the unprepared.”

Chuck – (I sense a kinship, I believe he’ll allow me to address him by his first name) was blessed to be in the path of totality for Monday’s stellar phenomenon, as was I. Because of that, we were probably dosed with more frenzied hyperbole than most Americans suffered. Weeks ago we were warned that half of the planet’s population would surely descend on our neighborhoods, throwing our lives into chaos.

“The April total solar eclipse could snarl traffic for hours across thousands of miles” – USA Today, April 7

‘Plan now’: Dallas leaders urge residents to prepare for crowds, congestion during solar eclipse” – NBC-DFW, April 2

“Large crowds in the path of the total solar eclipse April 8th could put a strain on cell service” –, April 5

The governors of Arkansas and Indiana issued proactive states of emergency. Cities and counties from Texas to Toronto did too. This all hit home for me around two weeks ago when my wife ordered me to stock up on food and tp as we did during the COVID-19 crisis.

S—’s getting real.

As I write this on Tuesday, April 9, the day after the eclipse, I can’t find a single reported case of hotel and car rental madness anywhere in the U.S. Traffic snarls? I was out and about yesterday before totality. Traffic actually seemed less than usual, as it has been this morning.

I’ve heard some radio reports (aka rumors) suggesting that fear of traffic congestion has people holing up in bars and drinking heavily. Allegedly. No sign of that, either, officially
or anecdotally.

Zebras, ostriches and people huddled at Dallas Zoo as solar eclipse darkened the grounds – Dallas Morning News, April 9

That’s the biggest morning-after headline here in the largest city in the path of totality.

Chuck and I think the news media has jumped the shark. We’d be laughing about it over a beer if we ever met and it wasn’t so maddening.

“What message does this send to our children,” Chuck asks. “Instead of marveling at the wonders of the universe and the scientific principles behind such events, they’re left wringing their hands in worry. The media’s penchant for dramatizing natural phenomena has transformed a teaching moment into a source of stress. Our children, who look to us for understanding and reassurance, are met with our own concerns, magnified by sensationalist reports.”

On December 16, 1982, I was anchoring the news at KGNR, Sacramento, when a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber crashed shortly after takeoff from nearby Mather AFB. Rumors of nuclear weapons on board flashed through the community.

My boss, WGN of California G.M. Robert Henley, came into the studio and reminded me to keep our audience calm and reassure them that we’re still looking for facts. I knew that, he was just reminding me. We didn’t add any conjecture or speculation. We never said things like, “We’ve heard…” or, “What if…”. All we said was, “Here’s what we know right now…”

In that case, nine crew members died in the crash but there were no nukes on board. Local and national media handled the story with the proper, professional perspective that was beyond question in those days.

Professional news reports beyond question, just the facts, no hype. Just imagine.

If that bomber was to crash locally now I shudder to imagine the shock wave produced by local media following the lead of social media lies and hysteria.

“In a world where information is at our fingertips, it’s disappointing to see fear used as a
tactic to grab attention. The total eclipse should be a moment of unity, wonder, and learning, not a cause for anxiety.” – Chuck Leblo

Yesterday afternoon I stood in my driveway with my officially approved protective lenses and watched the total eclipse. Pushing 73, it’s nothing I’ve ever seen before and will never see again. I shared the thrill with Chris, my teenage neighbor. We usually only howdy at the mail box but we shared some real neighborly excitement yesterday.

Chuck, his wife, and their eight-year-old son watched the eclipse with a picnic blanket in their front yard.

Chuck and I want to end the hype. Stop the bulls—. Just stop it. You know better.

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Kristina Koppeser Takes Pride in Leading Community Service at KYW Newsradio

We’re really proud of the Crystal Award nomination. I’m going to be there on Tuesday. So I hope I’m accepting and I’m accepting it.



A photo of the KYW logo and Kristina Koppeser
(Photo: Kristina Koppeser)

As many in the industry head to Las Vegas for NAB, Barrett News Media was able to catch up with some of the speakers this year, including, KYW Newsradio Brand Manager Kristina Koppeser.

Not only will she be speaking on recruiting and talent retention she will be representing station as they are nominated for a Crystal Award.

Krystina Alarcon Carroll: How did you get into the industry?

Kristina Koppeser: I have been working in news media in some fashion for over a decade. Radio I kind of got into a few years ago. I’m actually new-ish. I worked in television before [radio] and before [TV] I work in traditional digital media. I worked at Twitter, now X, for a while, and [Twitter] is where I sank my teeth into breaking news for the first time in my career, and I really enjoyed it.

So that kind of parlayed a job into a Hearst Television role. Then the pandemic hit, my husband and I were living in New York City but the space was just not doing it for us anymore. So we started looking at other cities we could live in and I saw this opening for a digital managing editor got that job. Now I’m here and I’m running the station, two years later.

KC: So what are you going to be talking about at NAB?

KK: So I am doing a talk on recruiting, talent retention, which is something I think we’re all thinking about constantly in this industry. Radio is one of the oldest mediums, but I think as we move into the next generation and the 21st century, we’re kind of thinking about ways that we can diversify, not only what people are doing, but what audio is. Radio is still the bulk of our business, but people are on their phones now. So, that digital aspect is important.

Finding people who can learn both do both and are not afraid of trying new things is a really important part of what I’m doing.

We have a very diverse newsroom that I’m very proud of. It’s very reflective of Philadelphia, and I think that’s really important in our storytelling and making sure that we have people in our newsroom who know and understand the city in a way that I think less diverse newsrooms don’t have that kind of breadth of knowledge. So I’ll talk a little bit on that, but really, it’s about how to find the right people and how to kind of look for diamonds in the rough.

I’ve always in any job tried to go off the beaten path to find somebody who I think might not be a shoo-in on paper, but there’s something about them that I’m like, ‘I think that I can make this work,’ and I think I can find something about their background or whatever that might not be. I think I speak to that, too. I’m not a traditional radio person in that I’m running a radio station.

KC: Your station was nominated for a Crystal Award this year. Is volunteering something you look for in your team? And why is that so important?

KK: Not actively, because it’s one of those things where we have — the brand kind of attracts people who naturally are inclined to volunteer. We’re really proud of the Crystal Award nomination. I’m going to be there on Tuesday. So I hope I’m accepting and I’m accepting it.

But I think that people who do spend their time — their free time — giving back to the community is very much what it’s about. In our work and our personal lives, our community always comes first. I like to think of us as public servants. What we’re doing is we’re providing a public service through information to this city under the collar counties and South Jersey. So while it’s not something that I think is an absolute must, it comes up naturally in interviews.

If you look at the nominees, when I was talking to our staff about all the things that they did I was humbled and floored. We’ve got people who volunteer in anything from community theater, volunteer firefighting, the Boy Scouts, Gift of Life, American Cancer Society and National Brain Tumor Society, coaching youth sports, food programs, historical societies, and more.

We have all sorts of people from all different walks of life just donating their time, which I think is great. I can talk about it forever because I’m so proud of everybody and we have such an amazing group of people who are just really selfless. On top of everything else.

KC: What’s the advice you have for young people who are looking to follow in your footsteps?

KK: Oh, that’s a really good question. One piece of advice I have just in general is I say yes to everything that excites you, right? I talk to young students who are trying to go into broadcast and be an on-air talent. I say it’s great to have a goal but I think that it’s important to know that there are many paths to get there and that it’s not it might not be the first thing you do, and your career is going to be long.

It’s hard sometimes to communicate that to people who their professional life is only one year, right? So, I tell them to say yes. To look at every interview as a learning experience, to like the interview process can be rigorous and sometimes really, disheartening if you’re going to know if you’re not going to return back.

Another piece of advice I have for young people wanting to get started in the industry is focus on being versatile. Media is not just one thing anymore — social media skills, as well as broadcast skills — are essential to reporting and journalism. So learning early to be adaptable, and to find ways to become a newsroom “Swiss army knife” as I like to call it, puts you in a better position to learn and succeed.

All of those things are going to make sense one day and it’s hard to kind of find that faith, but I can look at my resume and I have said yes to a lot of very different types of roles over the years. But the reason I did that is because I knew that if I could try something different or new, challenge myself, I’d come out the other side more knowledgeable and a better candidate for whatever came next.

Lastly, be comfortable with chaos. Someone once told me that in an interview, and I was like, ‘I think I could do that.’ Everybody should be comfortable with chaos.

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Why News/Talk Radio Should Champion Debates in 2024 And Beyond

We should want them to get on stage because if not, it will only encourage those all the way down to our local level not to step on the debate stage.



A photo of the 2024 Republican Presidential candidates
(Photo: Fox News)

This week, news broke that the major TV networks were working on sending letters to the Donald Trump and Joe Biden campaigns, essentially pleading with both men to commit to Presidential debates later this fall. And it should be of concern to each and every news/talk radio host in the country.

The letter, which included NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox News, and CNN and has not been finalized, notes that general election debates have “played a vital role in every presidential election of the past 50 years, dating to 1976,” with “tens of millions” tuning in to watch a competition of ideas for the votes of American citizens.

“Though it is too early for invitations to be extended to any candidates, it is not too early for candidates who expect to meet the eligibility criteria to publicly state their support for – and their intention to participate in – the Commission’s debates planned for this fall,” the letter states.

Biden has not publicly committed to debating Trump, although he has not ruled it out.

“It depends on his behavior,” Biden said in early March.

Trump has posted on social media that he will debate “anytime, anywhere, anyplace.”

I have seen many in the News/Talk radio space opine that the debates are overrated, don’t matter, and we should not care whether or not these two take the stage. But we should care. And we should want them to get on stage because if not, it will only encourage those all the way down to our local level not to step on the debate stage.

I can speak firsthand about how difficult it has been to get even our most local candidates, like mayors, to debate in recent election cycles. Candidates don’t want to do it, partly because the quality and depth of candidates get weaker by the cycle and because their consultants and advisors tell them not to debate. They perceive the downside to exceed the upside. No one will remember the good things you say, but if you have a massive blunder, it may sink your campaign.

It’s fecklessness from the candidate and control from the consulting class. And in the end, the biggest loser is the voter. They get bombarded with TV, radio, and digital ads while not really knowing how a candidate handles anything of substance, thinks on one’s feet, what their presence is like in the public arena, and so much more that allows voters to gauge the quality of a candidate beyond their political party identification and talking points.

If Donald Trump and Joe Biden never step on the debate stage this fall, you can likely kiss most debates goodbye. They’re already falling by the wayside in federal, state, and local races, and if the two Presidential candidates opt out, you will only see more of that down the ballot.

“If there is one thing Americans can agree on during this polarized time, it is that the stakes of this election are exceptionally high,” the TV networks stated in the letter. “Amidst that backdrop, there is simply no substitute for the candidates debating with each other, and before the American people, their visions for the future of our nation.”

This is the pitch that local TV and radio stations should also make to their area’s Senate, Congressional, Gubernatorial, and Mayoral candidates. Given the partisan nature of our politics, the voter may not need it, but they certainly do deserve it.

Selfishly, these are content generators, and can be revenue generators for TV and radio, but two things can be true at once. Yes, they’re good for our business, but they’re also beneficial for the voter.

Without them, it’s another barrier being put up between our candidates and the electorate. And nothing about that is American.

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