Kitty O'Neal '79 (Communication Studies)

O'Neal a sincere voice in Sacramento

Kitty O'Neal

Broadcaster Kitty O’Neal is known for covering the flashy side of news—the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards, “American Idol” and even a Presidential inauguration.

But it is the serious news on crime, flooding and power outages that O’Neal holds most dear.

“That’s when I feel like people are really depending on us,” O’Neal says. “That’s when I really want to get it right.”

O’Neal’s vocal command of news copy has made her a mainstay at NewsTalk 1530 KFBK for more than 25 years—most of those as afternoon news anchor. Not a small feat in an industry that often replaces broadcasters faster than today’s headlines.

She attributes her longevity to her genuine persona.

“I try to be the same person on the air that I am off the air,” she says, although admitting to picking up the pace a bit. “What you hear is what you get in real life. I just talk. I don’t do a radio voice.”

O’Neal started her KFBK career as a temporary employee in 1984.

“My very, very first big mistake was 20 years ago when I said ‘Nicauwagwan Webels,’” O’Neal laughs. Since then, the increasing speed of news and a broader interest in international stories has provided her with ample tongue twisters.

But her listeners would scarcely know it. Without a missing a clever intonation in a 60-second spot, O’Neal can report on the recent San Francisco Zoo’s tiger attack, the Governor’s proposed budget cuts in education and the latest tawdry Hollywood scandal, all sandwiched between lead-ins to weather and traffic.

O’Neal was hired permanently by the station in 1985, broadcasting live morning news features and producing “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” She then worked seven years as the news director for FM station KGBY Y-92, still working part time on KFBK’s morning show and as an entertainment reporter for then-KOVR Channel 13. At KFBK, she also added entertainment reports and movie reviews to her cachet.

These days, she voices her daily on-air celebrity column, dubbed “Kitty’s Litter.” O’Neal has also taken on a new direction, conducting more on-air interviews with callers and guests along with her co-host, former Sacramento Bee columnist and Sac State alum R.E. Graswich.

O’Neal is a yearly fixture in Sacramento Magazine’s “Best Of” issue, which regularly names her Best Afternoon Radio Personality. Countless awards line her office walls, among them the Sac State Distinguished Service Award she received in 2002.

Overall, she is grateful for being entrusted to deliver the news. “To have access to a microphone and speak to thousands of people daily is an immense privilege and one I never take lightly or for granted,” she says.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2008 edition of Sac State Magazine.