KFBK News Director and Senior Editor Judy Farah has more than 25 years news experience in New York, Los Angeles and Sacramento. She's edited the KFBK Afternoon News with Kitty O'Neal the past 16 years while also directing the newsroom by assigning stories to reporters and scheduling guest interviews. Farah started out as a newspaper reporter on the East Coast, covering major stories as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press in Los Angeles, including the 1984 Olympics, the Oscars, Emmys, the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the criminals trials of the Night Stalker and the Hillside Stranglers.
Farah came to KFBK in 1996, and has helped direct coverage of five presidential elections, five governor's elections and the killing sprees of Yosemite Killer Cary Stayner and Scott Peterson. She reported live for two 13-hour days for KFBK from the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She was also the editor on KFBK's 2011 exclusive report that the Sacramento Kings were considering moving to Anaheim.
A graduate of William Paterson College in New Jersey, Farah has won three Edward R. Murrow awards, including one for Best Writing, while at KFBK. She's also earned three awards from the Northern California Radio Television News Directors Association for Best Series, Best Newscast and Best Sports Segment. She has also written for the Wall Street Journal, TV Guide, Los Angeles and Parents magazines. She was honored with a Jefferson Fellowship in 2009 and traveled to Japan, China and Hong Kong to study the Asian economy. In 2010, she was awarded a RTNDA RIAS Fellowship to travel to Germany, Belgium and Prague to study the European economy.
Farah currently is a national blogger for The Huffington Post and often speaks on news and social media. You can find her on Twitter @newsbabe1530
In her free time, Farah enjoys the outdoors by hiking along the American River bike trail and kayaking. A wine enthusiast, Farah's produced a monthly wine segment on KFBK the past five years and enjoys visiting our local foothill wineries.
You can't help but notice it when you walk into the KFBK newsroom. Right behind the Editor's pit, before you get to the reporters' stations, to the right of the well-worn, heavily-stained carpet, is a big huge chunky turquoise-colored wooden box that takes up the entire wall with a grid of 24 slots -- The Cubby. Hand crafted circa 1996/97 by former KFBK Morning Editor Mark Seeling, now an editor-reporter at KCBS, The Cubby houses quite a history for our station and staff. And for Unabomber Ted Kacyznski and wife and baby killer Scott Peterson.
I've trained and worked with more than 50 reporters and dozens of producers. If there are two things these ex-KFBKers are fond of once they've left the station, it is the make-shift smoky barbecues I started ten years ago for staff who had to work the three summer holidays and brought out the Fire Department twice, and The Cubby. When word started getting out that KFBK was moving studios after more than 30 years, ex-staff members got nervous and started writing me: "A bunch of former KFBKers are concerned about the move: What will happen to the name wall?! Preserve it, Judy!"
I'm not quite sure just how the ritual got started, but it became the much-anticipated practice that when a staffer moved on, a ceremony would be held in the newsroom for that person to gingerly remove his or her name label from the front of their slot on the cubby and stick on the side wall under the names of others who had left. People gather round for the ceremony. There are cheers and applause. Pictures taken.
The side of the cubby has become a mish mash of different types and colored labels, lined up in a row with the names of former workers. Some names stand out -- for example, Laura Ingle, who went on to be a star reporter at KFI in Los Angeles and is now a television reporter in New York City for Fox News. When she left, an editor did play-by-play of the cubby ceremony as it was happening to Laura's friend and former colleague, Jennifer Jones, now the Morning Anchor at KGO in San Francisco. (There are also some names we have to struggle to remember who they are.)
Some were lucky to have the ceremony twice. More than a half dozen workers returned to KFBK after leaving the first time. My former producer and KFBK reporter Rachel Belle returned to KFBK after teaching English in Japan only to leave three weeks later for a great opportunity in Seattle at KIRO radio. Her second cubby farewell was an elaborate one -- featuring a video of her dancing and singing to her cubby ceremony.
There was also a dark period where the cubby was threatened. We had a news director for a year who didn't like the messy side wall. One day, as I gasped, he removed all the names -- clawing them off with his fingernails! How could he! After he left, I went into the trash and rescued the labels, knowing they would outlive his short tenure at station and put them up again when he left.
But that's not all that's on The Cubby. Let's just say, historic news items were acquired over time. There was the infamous road trip where Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's cabin was transported piggy back on a flat bed truck from the Montana woods to Sacramento. Authorities briefly put it on display for reporters. A certain editor asked her reporter, "Wouldn't it be great to have a piece of Kacynski's cabin?" Before she knew, reporter returned with a chip of wood that is now secured on cubby. A few years later, after massive coverage of the Scott Peterson murder trial, reporters were at his house in Modesto for the last time after he got convicted of double murder. The same editor said "It seems we should have something from there..." Editor was shocked when reporter returned with a big piece of wood taken from the side of the house!
Actually, I was appalled. I meant a rock or a stick. But now a piece of that wood is also on the cubby near Kacyznski's cabin and besides Peterson's picture.
Our colleagues Armstrong&Getty once did a show on KSTE on what kind of people want souvenirs from criminals or crime scenes? I merely pointed to the cubby from across the room. Guilty.
Maybe not our proudest moment but I can tell you those incidents happened spontaneously and were not intentional. There was no pre-meditation or malice aforethought on our part. But these items are now part of KFBK's history and folklore. We have a new web master who said if the cubby has to go during the move, he will saw off that side with all the names and news items and frame it for the new place.
I was sure that old, boxy, unattractive chubby cubby would not be coming with us to our new, slick, high-tech, industrial chic newsroom with neon track lighting. But Friday night my boss Alan assured me it was.
"Really?" I asked in pleasant surprise. "Yes," he said. "It has sentimental value."
Former KFBK reporter now Fox News radio commentator Todd Starnes wrote me: "Thanks goodness! I was worried about the memorial cubby!"
A lot of talented people who once roamed the KFBK corridors and left their mark here were as well. I'm glad they will be relieved -- their history, along with Ted and Scott's, will be preserved.