Karen Khunkhun: Lessons on Motherhood, Communication, and Following Your Dreams
by Arianne Granada
March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to celebrate than by shining a light on a trailblazing woman in the media industry?
For over 20 years, Karen Khunkhun has been a beloved fixture of Vancouver’s morning radio scene. From her humble beginnings in the promotions department at CFOX to her current role as a co-host of one of the city’s most popular morning shows, Khunkhun has become a trusted voice for thousands of listeners across the region.
Early Career and Finding Her Calling
Khunkhun’s broadcasting journey began at Vancouver’s Co-OP Radio while she was still a university student. From there, she moved to the promotions department at CFOX but it wasn’t until she joined the famous Larry & Willy morning show as a traffic reporter that she found her true calling.
Despite her initial nerves, Khunkhun quickly adapted to the fast-paced world of morning radio and became a beloved part of the team. She adds, “I used to listen to the CFOX morning show, and they were my favourite morning wake-up show. And I was so nervous because I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t work with Larry or Willy like this. It’s too much!’ Once I got over all the nervousness and just being so scared, I started and that was kind of my way in and I’ve been there ever since.”
Her infectious energy and quick wit soon landed her other exciting opportunities, including stints at CityTV’s Morning Breakfast Show and CTV News as a weekend weathercaster.
While she may love both fields, she admits there’s something special about each one. Radio provides a comfortable and safe space for her to research and prepare, while TV offers the thrill of being on the spot and performing.
Each separate industry has taught me so much and it brought a lot of joy to my life like I sometimes even at this stage, I just kind of feel like “Wow.”
Adapting to Change
As the pandemic swept across the world, Khunkhun had to leave the familiar studio environment behind and work from home. At first, the prospect of being separated from her colleagues was daunting. But as Khunkhun settled into her new routine, she began to appreciate the silver linings of this unexpected change.
I always think I’m such an extroverted person. I love being social, I love going out and about, but honestly, it all slowed down. I thought, uh oh wait, I think I’m an introvert. It was wonderful to just be at home with my family doing yard work and stuff around the house, all these little hobbies.
With her daughter Maya also home from school, Khunkhun was grateful for the chance to be there for her and guide her through this uncertain time. They spent their days together, stocking up on supplies and doing online shopping. Despite the cancellation of many events, Khunkhun found that she enjoyed the slower pace of life.
Through the pandemic, Khunkhun discovered a new approach to parenting. She said, “Honestly, I feel like it’s made me more relaxed. In the past, I always felt like I had to be the problem-solver and come up with ideas to fix anything that went wrong for my daughter. But now, I’ve learned to take a step back and let her figure things out on her own.”
Without the usual distractions of busy schedules and activities, she and her daughter were able to bond on a deeper level and get to know each other better—adding, “Our conversations really flow when we’re out on long hikes or walks with our dogs, surrounded by nature. That’s when she opens up and shares what’s bothering her or what’s going on at school. It’s during these active times together that we really connect.”
Inspiring Young Girls to Pursue Their Dreams
Khunkhun knows firsthand what it’s like to be hesitant to share her dreams, but still pushes herself to go after them. When she was younger, she loved imitating talk show hosts and watching the news. Now, she encourages young girls to boldly pursue their dreams and seek out mentors who can offer guidance and support.
I was just embarrassed to admit what my goals were, what my dreams were. I just think that was such a waste. I would say to girls now, whatever you want, show it. It doesn’t matter what age you’re at. Whatever’s in your heart that you really want to do at whatever age, be vocal about it. Go find people that inspire you and try to reach out to them.
As a woman working in a male-dominated space, Khunkhun still thinks there’s more work to be done and it’s important that we keep pushing for progress.
The conversation has to keep going. We need to make sure that this message never ever dies down, because we do need to keep harping on it. We have to keep marching forward and make sure everybody feels that they are a part of everything.
Karen Khunkhun’s story is an inspiring one for all young girls with big dreams. As a radio personality, she has made a name for herself in a male-dominated industry, and she wants to encourage other girls to follow in her footsteps. Her advice to young girls is simple: speak up about your aspirations and don’t be afraid to pursue them.