The wheels inside radio jock Brent Farris' head whirled and his eyes shone like those of a kid imagining Toyland as he pondered a question he'll pose to listeners on a near-future morning.
That query: "Are you left- or right-nostriled?"
What sort of adult person would admit to entertaining such a question much less consider asking it out loud on what is by far Sonoma County's most popular radio station?
People close to Farris swear he is an original: 6 feet and 4 inches of restless curiosity, hot-wired imagination, boundless heart and innate broadcasting talent.
"All I can tell you," said his mother, Jean Farris of Clearlake, "is that Brent started talking at 6 months -- full sentences -- and he hasn't stopped since."
At 51, Farris just marked his 25th year as the morning guy at independent Santa Rosa FM station KZST. His tenure is remarkable in itself; a quarter century at one station is an eternity in the fickle, ever-changing business of commercial radio.
And Sonoma County is a small radio market, ranked in order of size at No. 128 in the nation, in the company of Youngstown, Ohio; Portsmouth, N.H.; and the Oxnard-Ventura area of Southern California. Farris did not have to stay here all these years.
"He could be in absolutely any market he'd want to," said Kenwood's Marcy Smothers, a friend and fan who credits Farris' mentoring for getting her into radio. Smothers, the wife of comic Tommy Smothers, had a talk show on KSRO and now works on a syndicated show with Sonoma County's TV chef, Guy Fieri.
"A lot of people will use the word 'genius' to describe Brent, and it fits," Smothers said. "He is a genius with people. He's a genius with promotion. He's a genius with comedy, and he's a genius with broadcasting."
Farris, who has too much aw-shucks in him to address allegations of genius, acknowledged he has received other job offers, including a big-bucks courting years ago by a station in Chicago.