Getting to know KFI’s Bill Handel

Bill Handel

I’ve been listening to Bill Handel for over a decade now. My husband introduced me to KFI talk radio back then and I have been a fan ever since. Handel is my driving buddy every single morning when I go to work. It makes driving less stressful with his humor and take on current news events.

My favorite segment on Bill’s show is called “Success from Scratch.” It airs every Thursday. And Saturday, if you want to learn about legal stuff, it’s Handel on the Law. Handel is an attorney, broadcaster, and founder of The Center For Surrogate Parenting. He graduated from Cal State Northridge with a B.A. in Political Science and received his J.D. from Whittier Law School. Handel also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

So last Friday, I was scheduled to meet Mr. Handel. I could not be more stoked. I left at 6:15 am from South OC and got to Burbank at 7:30 am. The garage gate was still closed, so I waited for half an hour. As I parked I called my contact person and met her at the lobby. It was all positive trajectory from the starting point. My contact person offered me some donuts and escorted me to the break room. I love how the people there made it a point to smile at me. And then I met Bill Handel on the air as we entered the booth. During break time, I told Bill that I can now cross off one of my top bucket list items- to interview Bill Handel. And he replied “You are just too kind.” I put my headset on and listened to the late news. At that time, I met Gary Hoffman who just sat beside me. During the break, I had a photo op with Bill and the rest of the crew. After Bill’s show, I got a chance to have a great group photo with Gary Hoffmann, Bill Carol, Handel and Rebekkah my contact person who was patient enough to take a photo every time I suggested. Overall, I was very impressed with how accommodating and friendly the staff was.

KFI's Bill Handel

KFI’s Bill Handel

I thoroughly enjoyed my interview with Bill, not to mention his great sense of humor. If you know Bill, you’ll understand his sarcasm. With this Q and A you’ll learn more about his personal side and his phenomenal career.

Ruchel: How did you get started with your broadcasting career?
Handel: I was interviewed dozens of times on my practice. My practice was third party reproductive law. After a surrogacy story broke in 1980, I was the first one out of the block. When it became big news I was interviewed a lot. One day I’m in KABC and a program director came up and said, “You know what? I’m listening to all the interviews you do, you are better than half of the people working here. And I said, ” I’m not better than half of people working here , I’m better than all of the people working here.” Then son of a gun, I found a job doing Handel On The Law on the weekends. That’s how I broke in.

Bill Handel, Ruchel Freibrun and Gary Hoffmann

Bill Handel, Ruchel Freibrun and News Anchor Gary Hoffmann


Ruchel Freibrun

Ruchel: How do you start your morning routine?
Handel: I wake up when the alarm goes off and then I take a shower “sometimes” and then I take my anti-anxiety medicine.  Then I get in the car and come to work. It’s not that hard.

Ruchel: What are some of the bumps in the road you encountered as you grew your career in radio?
Handel: Yeah! Tons. I’m loud. I’m obnoxious. I’m inappropriate. And there have been a few inappropriate moments in which I got into trouble. But other than that no.

Ruchel: What do you like and dislike about your job.
Handel: It’s actually one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had. What do I dislike? Umm, I have a hard time dealing with advertisers. That’s basically it. I have not had a lot of bumps. It’s a fun job. My career has been fine. From the beginning it’s gone up. I never had a drop. Early on I think on my first job, I was doing Handel on the Law…I got fired after a year and a half and that devastated me.

Richard Branson was terrific. I love interviewing him. That was in the studio. And I spent half of the morning with him and that was terrific. Probably that is the best because I got to hang with him. And it wasn’t a quick interview in and out. – Bill Handel

Bill Carol, Bill Handel and Gary Hoffman

Bill Carol, Bill Handel and Gary Hoffmann

Ruchel: But you came back…
Handel: I came back. Handel On The Law was going on another station and they fired me, but I was still there doing a small segment for another three years. And then when KFI went all talk, my career was straight up hill. Every minute here at KFI. That’s from 1989.

Ruchel: What kind of events cause you to get stressed on the job?
Handel: Thinking about my family. My marriage. My kids. Thinking about the people I work with. Thinking about everything. As a matter of fact, everything causes me stress.

Ruchel: What was the most stressful situation you have faced?
Handel: A couple of death threats. But that’s about it. They were long time ago.

KFI booth in Burbank

KFI booth in Burbank

Ruchel: Do you encourage your kids to go into radio broadcasting?
Handel: Absolutely not. As my daughter’s friends ask, “Are you gonna be a radio host like your dad?” She says, “It’s not a family business.” It’s impossible to break in today.

Ruchel: Even if you know someone?
Handel: Even if you know someone because the jobs aren’t available like they were. There is a lot of consolidation. It’s one talent they use for many stations…they use one talent across the board. More and more stations are going syndicated. So KFI is sort of the last bastion and even then they still have to sell one or two spots on the weekend. And I thought that would never happened. But it did. In other radio stations they sell their weekends completely. People buy time. They wanna be a radio host. They are selling weight loss,  financial, or supplemental stuff. And they are the host. They pretend they are on radio.

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at KFI studio

Ruchel: What’s on your bucket list?
Handel: Having a 22-year-old great looking intern hit up on me (ha ha ha) . That’s never happened. See places around the world that I haven’t been to. I do a fair amount of traveling but one place on my bucket list that I have not been is Mongolia.

KFI's Gary Hoffman

KFI’s Gary Hoffman

Ruchel: Do you want to go to exotic places or do adventure travel?
Handel: No I don’t do adventure. I do five star hotels. I love cruising. Here’s one I haven’t been to… I want to go to the North pole. There’s a submarine that will take you there. That’s pretty exotic.

Ruchel: Do you have a memorable moment in your radio career?
Handel: Being awarded the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star… That was kinda neat. Another memorable moment… when I said something I shouldn’t have said and I was suspended from the radio show. Interviewing some really interesting people like Richard Branson. Richard Branson was terrific. I love interviewing him. That was in the studio. And I spent half of the morning with him and that was terrific. Probably that is the best because I got to hang with him. And it wasn’t a quick interview in and out.

Ruchel:  My favorite segment is “Success from Scratch”. Do you have favorites from that segment?
Handel: No, they are all great. I don’t have any favorites.

Ruchel: How do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Handel: Dead.

Ruchel: Ha ha ha
Handel: And if not dead having someone change my diaper wherever facility I’m at.

Erin Vermeulen Sports Anchor KFI

Erin Vermeulen Sports Anchor KFI

Ruchel: What about your kids, what do they wanna be?
Handel: They’re too young. They’re 19. They want to be a ballerina.. they want to be the President of the United States.

KFI's Bill Carroll

KFI’s Bill Carroll

Ruchel: A make-up artist?
Handel: Yeah. I have one who is a makeup artist. That’s a tough field because she is a freelance makeup artist. It is very tough because it is a field where you freelance everything. You are even working when you are looking for work. And that is a full time gig. The other one.. she has no idea what she wants to do.

Ruchel: What word of advice can you give to young people who’d like to break in radio.
Handel: Find something else. Only because as hard as it used to be… now, it’s almost impossible.   They are not paying anything for the syndicated program. If someone wants to really get into broadcasting, you have to start from college and radio 2-3 years and send out a million tapes. Be willing to work at like Aspareth, Wyoming for $150/week and just hopefully work your way up. It’s a tough, tough gig. And there’s no money in it. I wouldn’t suggest it. Cause its one of those fields like acting where you can work insanely hard and be very good and fail. There’s no other field where that happens. If you have a profession, you can go into management. You work hard, you’re good, and you will succeed. That’s how high you’re gonna go, if you meet the right mentor. If you meet the right VP at that moment, you are going to be fine. In radio, in broadcast, in any entertainment business like songwriting, you can be excellent and you’re going to retire working as an assistant manager at JC Penney’s.

Special thanks to Michelle Kube and Rebekah Baker

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