CFOX’s Karen Khunkhun Reveals Her WFH Routine

CFOX radio personality Karen Khunkhun takes TV Week inside the ups, downs, drawbacks and delights of her pandemic-era reality

CFOX radio personality Karen Khunkhun takes us inside the ups, downs, drawbacks and delights of her pandemic-era reality 

The world may be slowly returning to the way things were, but for Karen Khunkhun, longtime co-host of CFOX 99.3’s The Jeff O’Neil Show, it still looks a lot like 2021. “We’re not back in studio just yet,” the Vancouver rock music DJ tells TV Week, after one of her early morning broadcasts. “The way you enunciate on the radio, you are speaking big. And if one of us gets sick, then we’re all down.” That said, in July, Khunkhun and her cohorts Jeff O’Neil and Captain Scotty intend to return to close quarters, and not a moment too soon, if you ask Khunkhun. “It was really nice in the winter months because you don’t have to get into the car, scrape the windows, any of that stuff. And I have a daughter who’s 11, so to be home for her before she gets ready for school, that’s been a wonderful blessing. But I’m starting to really miss the fun and hijinks and camaraderie behind the scenes when we’re just laughing while the songs are running. There’s nothing like that.”  

Karen KMike BradleyRecently, TV Week spoke with “Karen K” about DJ-ing from home, keeping her performance skills on point and if she really wakes up looking like a supermodel. 

TV Week: How has that morning banter been from a distance? 
Karen Khunkhun: I mean, we still do it. I equate it to those days of being up all night, talking to your friends on the phone and laughing your heads off. I don’t see them, but I’ve known my co-host Jeff for over 20 years now, so we know each other so well. That communication level is really there. We just get each other.  

What does your morning schedule entail? 
KK: The alarm rings at three in the morning, but I am kind of used to it by now. I get up and start just doing the news prep for the day, because there’s three different newscasts and I do those. We each send in what we think are the important stories for our listeners and for the city. Then we have a pre-show meeting where we send all the prep around and map out the whole show. And then our show starts at six. 

No doubt, you have a great setup at home? There’s a soundproof studio somewhere? 
KK: It is very makeshift, to be honest. You would think after two years of pandemic times that it would be a little more professional. No, it’s my basement. It’s so funny, because people think that it’s this high-tech setup and I just think, “Oh dear, if you saw the microphone…” I mean, it is a studio-grade microphone, but just plugged into my laptop. I just pray that the dogs don’t bark while we’re on the air or that my daughter’s not yelling for something and a delivery doesn’t come. 

Every time I’m on Zoom, someone starts drilling, kids start screaming… That’s got to happen for you sometimes. 
KK: I always say to the guys, “There are deliveries at my neighbour’s house at all hours,” but they think it’s me and I’m using my neighbour as the scapegoat. They’re like, “Oh yeah, OK, another Amazon package.” I’m like, “No, I swear. It’s not me.” But I have two dogs, so if one’s not acting up, it’s the other one. These are the stresses that I will be looking forward to avoiding when I get back in studio. But then there’s so many wonderful things too, like the ability to still be working, especially in an industry that was decimated.  

Are you a morning person? Like, a 3 a.m. morning person? 
KK: Well, it’s strange. I’m a total night owl too. Is it possible to be both? Because I am. I love the night. There’s something really special to me about that moment where you feel like no one else is up in the world except for you. It’s a really peaceful feeling. And when the emails roll in from my co-hosts and we’re all getting amped up about what are we going to talk about today, there’s this excitement that starts brewing. It’s at about 2 p.m., when that excitement starts to really wear down, that you’re like, “I desperately need a nap.” 

Karen KEva Grace PhotographyHow do you do it? Are you just permanently jet-lagged?  
KK: I used to drink way too much coffee and I cut myself off a little bit because you just get those jitters. I make sure I try to do something active, whether it’s going for a walk with the dogs or trying to get on the treadmill, because no matter how much I dread it afterwards, I’m like, “I needed to do that.” I try to just take care of myself. I have to get a good amount of sleep. I have severe FOMO [fear of missing out], and I do hate missing out, but I got to start packing it up at, like, eight. Thankfully, my husband wakes up super-early too. We’re all on the same early schedule, which is really helpful because you hear about so many families having opposite schedules and it’s not as easy. I wouldn’t have the willpower to power down if everyone else is up having fun without me. 

Professionally, you’ve done acting, you’ve hosted television. Do you feel like you can dip into all these things, still, if you want to? 
KK: What’s nice is, I’ve been with CFOX for so long that if there is an acting gig that comes up, and same with my co-hosts as well, they’ll say, “You’ve got to do it,” and they’re always super-supportive. Being in Vancouver, where there’s Hollywood North, I can take those opportunities and be a part of them, which is really nice. And we’re affiliated with Global News, so whenever there’s opportunities to do little hosting things, I’m able to do those as well. Luckily we’re off at 10, so the opportunities that arise are mostly after that anyway.  

Are they different muscles for you—acting and radio DJ-ing?  
KK: They’re all performance, but in very different ways. With radio, no one sees you. I can have a million papers sitting in front of me and I can be totally and completely panicking right before I go on and no one sees the duck’s feet going crazy underneath the water. But with TV, everyone can see everything. So you really have to have it together, which is a little different. It is so exciting. And seeing the finishing product makes me so happy. It’s so fun to be a teeny-tiny little part in that awesome thing that’s happening in the city. A little piece of history.  

Speaking of no one seeing you, do you wake up looking like these amazing photos you sent us? 
KK: [Laughs] No. When I first started working from home, I said to myself, “I am going to get up every morning, get ready…” Because if not, I don’t feel ready to do the show. In about a week, it was sweatshirts, hair in a bun. But then I started to feel not as motivated and depressed, to be honest with you. So I did start to get ready again, just for my mental health and so that I would start to feel a little bit more like myself again. I will say: I like having the option. I like a day where, if I don’t want to, I’m not going to wash my hair and that’s fine. But I love getting dressed up. I think it’s just part of who I am. I find it just to be a nice little way to calm myself down, to walk myself through the morning. It’s a little ritual that I like doing. 

Listen to Rocking from Home on CFOX 99.3 FM