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.
After nearly 90 years as a nationally known, widely respected and highly honored heritage radio news station, KFBK announced today it is also going FM. Starting at midnight, you can listen to KFBK on its longtime AM 1530 dial and now on 92.5 FM.
Or as I Tweeted under @newsbabe1530...
"The mighty 50,000 watt flamethrower KFBK that can be heard from the Oregon border to San Diego is now going FM as well!"
The KFBK staff is very excited about the opportunity to expand its audience. This is part of a new trend in the radio news industry. Radio has a lot of listeners, but many of them only listen to music on FM. Now when they're zapping around, we hope they'll stumble upon us and like what they hear. Our news philosophy at KFBK is to be hyper local with your news, traffic and weather. You can get news of presidential politics or unrest in the Middle East anywhere, but you can only hear about the Twin Rivers police shooting, Occupy Sacramento protests or highlights from the local high school football teams on the radio at KFBK.
"Today is a milestone for Sacramento broadcasting as KFBK expands to the 92.5 frequency to better serve the local community. The void for quality, local and full service news and talk on FM has now been filled. This will give a younger audience access to one of the most influential stations in not only Sacramento but all of Northern California," said Jeff Holden, Vice President and Market Manager, Clear Channel Radio.
We are going to sound a little different with some new imaging/intros for both stations. But the familiar, authoritative voices of Kitty O'Neal, Amy Lewis and Ed Crane will stay the same along with the same hard local news you depend on from our team of talented reporters, producers and editors.
No, we are not adding music. There will be no DJs. KFBK AM and FM will have the same local news the Sacramento region has depended on for the past 90 years -- with just one more place to hear it.
"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, We're finally on our own, This summer I hear them drumming, Four dead in Ohio..."
"Ohio," was written by Neil Young for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1970 in the immediate aftermath of four students being shot dead by the Ohio National Guard at a non-violent Vietnam War protest on campus at Kent State.
Here in 2011, the nation was outraged by the shocking still and video images of a University of California, Davis police officer casually pepper spraying ten students in the face who were sitting and staging a peaceful protest on the campus Friday afternoon. By Sunday, the video went viral and it became the top news story in the country.
The universal reaction was gutteral and understandable. Sheer disgust by all. Embattled U.C. Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi issued a statement Sunday saying she spoke with students and said "I feel their outrage." Katehi added she has heard from "overwhelming number of students, faculty, staff and alumni from around the country" denouncing the incident.
Bill Ostertag is a long-time UCD professor. He wrote a long, thoughtful blog on the militarization of campus police. He said students are frustrated that just six years ago, tuition at UC Davis was $5,357 and is currently $12,192.
"I teach at UC Davis and I personally know many of the students who were the victims of this brutal and unprovoked assault. They are top students. In fact, I can report that among the students I know, the higher a student's grade point average, the more likely it is that they are centrally involved in the protests,"
By Monday, campus Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and two campus officers were placed on administrative leave while Katehi announced she was asking the Yolo County District Attorney to investigate the police actions.
The action could not come in the nick of time. Emotions are running feverishly high right now across the country with the Occupy movements and concurrent campus protests at U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Davis. They are escalating to the point that possibly, it was only a matter of time emotions would overflow, tensions would rise and someone would snap and use a gun instead of a baton or Taser -- like Kent State.
On May 4, 1970, four students were killed and nine injured when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students during an anti-Vietnam War rally on the Kent State campus. The students killed were unarmed and in good standing with the university. The Ohio National Guard fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds. The iconic photo of a wailing young woman standing over the body of a dead, under 20 college student became one of the symbols of that turbulent time in our history.
I am old enough to remember the standoffs at Columbia University over the Vietnam War and even marched on my state Capitol in Trenton, New Jersey to protest rising college costs when I was a student. My youngest daughter just finished college. No parent who sees those images of the students coming out of U.C. Davis wants what happened to those students to happen to their child.
I've worked closely with law enforcement during my 25 years in the news business and respect them immensely. Campus police are in a conundrum for our times. Ever since 9/11 terrorist attacks and 1999 Columbine shootings that left 25 dead, we expect campus cops to respond in immediate, full-out attack mode to take down campus shooters. Yet, we don't expect them to be Storm Troopers in riot gear for spontaneous, peaceful protests. We can only hope their training and professionalism helps them discern the difference between the two.
As University of California President Mark G. Yudof wrote in his statement Sunday:
"Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history...I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion...
"I intend to convene all 10 chancellors, either in person or telephone, to engage in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure 'proportional' law enforcement response to non-violent protests."
The pepper spray was awful. But it forced officials to take immediate action. And just in the nick of time. Four decades later, we don't want another Kent State.
...."Gotta get down to it, soldiers are cutting us down. Should have been done long ago. What if you knew her? And found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know?" "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young after 1970 Kent State shootings.
Cancer. Just the sound of the word invokes dread, disease and dying. So when two of my staff members proposed doing back to back series on cancer, I hesitated. Do KFBK listeners really want to hear five weeks of cancer stories?
When the people telling the stories have passion and purpose in their work, they do.
KFBK reporter Jim Nayor is a hard charging, take no prisoners reporter who challenges information on every story. He was going about getting his allergy medications refilled when the doctor ordered a routine blood test. Results showed Jim may have prostate cancer. The news rocked him because he's young -- under 50 -- and had no symptoms. More tests were done and on the Fourth of July after work, Jim confided to me "I have cancer." The next few weeks I saw this once energetic reporter grow more concerned after tests showed the cancer may have spread.
Jim decided to share his story and record each visit to the doctor. He had robotic surgery on August 26th and despite doctor's orders, worked through pain during his recovery to produce a 5 part series for KFBK to coincide with Prostate Cancer Awareness Week in September. Jim movingly told his story in first person, like he was sitting down for a cup of coffee with you. His series was named One in Six because shockingly, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lives.
Longtime KFBK Morning Anchor Amy Lewis had her own quest. She was traveling in the D.C. area and heard a radio station report on how they were collecting written stories of breast cancer survivors for their website. Why not listen to them? Amy thought. She decided to tell 31 stories from 31 breast cancer survivors from Sacramento in October -- Breast Cancer Awareness month.
I've known Amy for more than a decade and know how passionate she is about her work. Will the stress of the huge project be too much? Would she carry these women's stories with her? Amy has brilliant blue eyes that flash when she laughs, which she does often. But I saw them glazed at times as she dauntingly worked cutting 31 different 20 minute interviews down into 90 seconds for broadcast.
Amy produced a powerful series called 31 Survivors in 31 Days. Each vignette ran daily on KFBK, telling each woman's reaction at the diagnosis; how they each coped differently and the positive message of survival that came with every story. Truly inspiring.
Jim and Amy spent many, many hours of their own time producing their projects. Now, thank God, Jim is cancer free. And Amy gave a voice to 31 women who did not have a voice of their own during their battle.
With each series, each story, we at KFBK hoped just one person was listening and was touched to take action that could save a life. Maybe their own, or that of a loved one or friend. Passion and purpose in a newsroom.
The discussion was quick but deliberate Friday afternoon in the KFBK studio. Occupy Sacramento was in its ninth day at Cesar Chavez Park and sent out a provocative fax (yes, a fax) that Native Americans were joining in their protest that day to demonstrate against the "Holocaust" committed by Christopher Columbus.
Really? This could be really good audio of people ranting against Columbus and corporate greed but at what point do I ask myself: Are we really covering a news event or giving unnecessary time to an unorganized movement with no real cohesive, coherent message?
I huddled with anchorwoman Kitty O'Neal and John McGinness who now has a talk show on KFBK at 3 p.m. The Sheriff of course was concerned about the costly drain on the police force. Kitty, as are most of us, was unclear on what the Occupy movement wants.
From Sacramento to Wall Street, to Rome and Berlin, the #OWS is rapidly growing, but what is the message beyond protesting corporate greed and how the rich are getting richer?
I've been rich and I've been poor. Both my parents were blue collar factory workers in New Jersey who worked very hard to give me and my brother wondrous Christmases and endless summers at the Jersey Shore. They never asked for or wanted more. In my career, I've worked 100-hour weeks, 18-hour days, overnights and weekends. Am I supposed to give some of my hard-earned money back because others don't have any?
Of course I know the Occupy movement is about more than that. Half of my lifelong friends have lost their jobs. The news business has been hit as hard as any with downsizing with many of my talented, experienced colleagues being been laid off.
Covering the news, I see that there is no real solution or cure on the horizon to creating jobs or turning the economy around anytime soon. So I feel the frustration of jobless people just begging our elected leaders to do more. Please, put us back to work!
The Occupy movement is growing globally. But right now in Sacramento, it's a mixed bag of varying degrees of angsts - protesters against banks/corporate greed/government/capitalism/student loans/health care/pensions/Christopher Columbus and yes, Zombies.
Until this local movement has an organized message and coherent plan of action, I can't commit KFBK's resources to covering it daily. I'd rather spend that time doing something really important - reporting on real efforts to get people back to work.