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Morning host began speaking full sentences at 6 months, has yet to hush

  • Brent Farris, KZST morning DJ, likes to give away money to listeners who phone in for various radio station contests.

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.

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