A Veteran in the Bay Area Radio Industry, Meet Celeste Perry, Host KOFY TV & DJ 98.5 FM KFOX
Q: What was it like moving to the Bay Area from Honolulu?
CP: I came to a different kind of paradise in San Francisco. While I love the beaches, the landscape and aloha spirit of the Islands, I wanted to try my luck in a major radio market. San Francisco was the perfect spot for me, and like Hawaii, the cost of living in San Francisco was high, so it immediately felt like home.
Q: How did you get your first media job … as a chicken?
CP: I was an unpaid intern at a radio station in Honolulu when I discovered the way to earn some cash was to get dressed up in the official radio station chicken suit to greet listeners at station events. After a few weeks on the job, I was called into the Program Director’s office. They told me I was too short to wear the big chicken suit.
Q: What made you choose Radio for your career?
CP: It was a happy accident. I was an intern at a radio station in Honolulu and had not yet decided on a career path when I was caught by the radio bug. At the time there weren’t many women in the field and that was motivating for me to challenge that paradigm. My mother loved the radio, it was always on in the kitchen when we had breakfast and one of my earliest memories was listening to the mellifluous voice of The Story Lady and Dick Orkin’s twisted radio series, Chickenman.
Q: How did KOFY’s “Canine Companions come about?
CP: I did a guest host segment at KOFY TV with my then radio partner Dave Sholin at KFRC. We taped our little series on a Friday afternoon and the by the following Monday KFRC had been shut down. I was out of work and the first call I made was to the people I had just met at KOFY. They said they were developing a dog-adoption show and I convinced them I was their person. I’ve spent over 30 years advocating for rescue dogs.
Q: Tell us a little about your rescue dog Vito?
CP: My family had lost two beloved dogs (Ginger and Jake) in a matter of year. We were heartsick and when we decided to adopt again, I went to the Marin Humane Society website and saw a little guy named Beansprout. I raced up to the shelter and that little white doggie and I feel for each other in an instant. I brought him home and my family was shocked at how tiny he was (about 10 pounds). I told them we’d keep him through the week and if they didn’t think he was right for us, they could “veto” him. I’m sure they knew this wasn’t a deal I’d honor if it didn’t go my way. Anyway, that’s how he got his name, even though everyone assumes his named for the head of the Corleone family, because The Godfather I and II are my favorite films.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
CP: Besides doing laundry, walking dogs and if I’m lucky fitting in time to meditate … I work from the KFOX studios and sometimes I work from my home studio. It’s great to walk through the halls of Bonneville and past the other stations in our cluster (KBLX, KOIT and Now), but I admit working from home appeals to that part of me that is sick of commuting. These days our radio job extends to the realms of social media, meaning I post stories on our Facebook page and our station website.
Q: What are some of the changes you’ve seen in the Radio industry over the years?
CP: The biggest change has been deregulation. Our radio station is now part of a group of stations in this market and further part of a larger conglomerate across the country. Some of the grittiness of the independently owned radio stations has been lost in the corporate culture of large scale ownership … but we’re experiencing this shift everywhere from the loss of our local book store and family owned supermarket. Still, when I walk into the studio and open the microphone and start talking, I’m still connecting in an essential way that I always have. Everything changes.
Q: Do you have any advice you can share for those women who may want to pursue a career in broadcast journalism?
CP: I think we need strong journalism more than ever. Get your journalism degree, but double major in public policy, political science or history. Go to college, get educated and travel. Read, read and read some more. Don’t be lazy. Be fearless as you pursue your goals, but be humble too. Have a beginner’s mind so you can continue to learn. Find a mentor. Realize that technology is pushing us to the ‘next big thing’, so be flexible and open to that reality, but keep following the truth and your dream. Learn to listen to your own voice. Surround yourself with smart people who will challenge you … and have some fun while you’re at it!
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
CP: Women who fight for justice and truth inspire me. A couple or my current favorites are Emma Gonzalez, Malala Yousafzai and Sally Yates. The incredible journalism of Jane Mayer moves me.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
CP: Institutionalized sexism. Sometimes we’re so accustomed to being treated like we’re not worthy that we don’t even realize it’s happening. It can’t always be the case but try to steer clear of working for anyone (and this includes men and women in positions of power) who don’t have values that align with yours. Q: Can you offer advice to parents with daughters graduating from high school? CP: Find a way to get your daughter to the right school for her needs. Have big conversations with her about what her dreams are and if she doesn’t have a ‘dream’ expose her to the big wide wonderful world out there. I realize not everyone can afford travel and elite schools, but that shouldn’t limit her journey. Get two years of community under her belt and then apply for the four-year school. I came from a traditional middle-class family, no frills. I went to the local university (even though I had dreams of getting my degree at a posh Liberal Arts East Coast college). I didn’t travel abroad till I was married, but still I exposed myself to books and pushed myself to see beyond my hometown.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance?
CP: Well, let’s be honest, I only work on the air 4-5 hours a day, however when my sons were little guys, it was more challenging to do the whole get-up-and-get-to-school routine and then come home to soccer practice, dinner and homework. My sons are in their twenties out of the house, so it’s me, my husband and the two dogs. Currently, I balance my work with watching The Americans, cooking (I love to cook), meditating and I’ve become more politically engaged than ever before. I suppose I’ve become a bit of an activist … look for me at your local phone-bank working the 2018 midterms.
Q: What do you like the most about living in the Bay Area?
CP: It’s a beautiful place to live, from the hiking trails of Mt. Tamalpais to the stunning vistas of Big Sur, although as pretty as the beaches, they don’t hold a candle to the sea and sand of Hawaii.
Five Things About Celeste Perry
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Thomas Jefferson, I'd like to get his view on what he thinks of the shape this country is in.
2. Favorite Band?
As rock bands go, I have a thing for Led Zeppelin.
3. If they made a movie of you … who would play you?
People tell me I remind them of Natalie Wood … it’s kind of funny since my husband has always had a crush on her. Maybe this was true at one moment when I was having a good hair and makeup day in my twenties and the lighting was just right. In terms of pure personality and style, we’d have to go way back to Myrna Loy.
4. If you were a superhero, what would your special powers be?
I’d be able to turn all cold hearts into warm compassionate ones.
5. Is there an app you can’t live without?
I use Waze and even though I’m beginning to have deep doubts about them I do check my Facebook page at least a few times a day.