Annika Knoppel hosts ‘Fika with Annika’ on KOYT-FM radio

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Annika Knoppel, host of KOYT-FM’s “Fika with Annika” radio show, volunteers at the Anza Electric Cooperative’s mobile food pantry in 2019. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Annika Knoppel’s theme is, “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” As a community activist, business adviser, volunteer and local Realtor, she said she takes this advice to heart.

Knoppel hosts the “Fika with Annika” talk show on Anza’s local, nonprofit public radio station, KOYT-FM 97.1. In her weekly episodes, she interviews people in the community in her signature laid-back style, asking questions to prompt her guests in conversation.

Some of her guests have included Ben Cruz and Nicole Renee Arana, Tim Lauridsen, Kaz Murphy, Barry Shankman, Robyn Garrison and Susan Eyer-Anderson.

To take the idea of a show and make it a reality, Knoppel said she invested a lot of time and effort into the project. She attended a one-hour training presentation explaining the do’s and don’ts of radio programming as described by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable across the United States.

She also learned that the radio station must ensure that programming isn’t commercial, biased or subject to “payola” – the of accepting money or gifts in exchange for favorable programming.

“Once you have that under your belt, you need to have a viable concept, and present three or more shows to the programming committee for review,” Knoppel said. “This is to ensure that you are committed to consistently scheduled programs.”

Approved shows can be daily, weekly or monthly, ranging from just a minute long to 15 minutes or maintain a fluid timeframe, which is the case with the “Fika with Annika” show.

All her programs are pre-recorded and edited by programming director Erinne Roscoe to fit the time slot and to bleep out the occasional exclamation or misspoken word or phrase.

“I use a small handheld recorder to do my interviews, so I am mobile but I prefer to bring my guests into the actual studio, as the acoustics are best in Studio A,” she said.

The name of the talk show is a play on words with an interesting backstory, Knoppel said.

“I am Swedish born and bred, and the Swedes take their coffee very seriously,” Knoppel. “The midmorning and afternoon break is called ‘fika,’ and it is both a noun and verb. The break is a time to uncouple from the work environment and engage with friends, family or colleagues. Two years ago, Erinne Roscoe, Liese Carney, myself and Flavia Krieg attended a regional radio broadcasters conference in Santa Rosa. The four of us were sitting at the breakfast counter sipping coffee and having breakfast one morning, and I sensed the feeling of being involved in a fika moment. We were discussing the lack of programming and how so few persons in the community had stepped forward to offer programming ideas. I liked the free-flowing conversation and the organic feel of anything goes when you are sitting with friends and enjoying the moment. That is when the concept for ‘Fika with Annika’ was born. It took about four months from then on for me to get into my groove. I aimed to speak with the guests about local history, current ongoing events, personal passions and whatever comes out at the moment.”

Listeners are introduced to guests ranging from business people, musicians, activists, nonprofit organizations and more.

“Each and every one of my guests leaves a footprint in my personal path. My very first interviewee was Tim Laurdisen, an Anza man who knows the local environs, trails, native plants and history. He is a natural storyteller and the perfect beginning for Fika. He helped me get comfortable in front of a microphone. Believe it or not, I have a phobia about talking into microphones. I don’t even like to talk on the phone, I’d rather be up front and personal.”

There are about 50 “Fika with Annika” episodes in the archives to date. The shows are kept as podcasts and can be accessed through the KOYT-FM website.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Knoppel has not conducted any new interviews since February 2020. The radio station has been running replays until Knoppel can resume her scheduling of guests.

She said she is enjoying a wonderful notoriety as a result of the shows.

“Strangers look up when they hear my name and can now associate the voice with a face. It’s nice to receive the positive feedback and to learn that I have fans. I have the chance to meet people of different walks of life. Some are newcomers to the area and others have lived here all their lives. They all have a story to tell and I’m the one who can bring their story to light. I had no idea I would enjoy talking as much as I do when I’m with a guest,” she said.

For future productions, Knoppel said she wishes to speak with community elders and focus on local Anza Valley history. She also wants to introduce more nonprofit organizations to listeners.

“Fika with Annika” is aired every Wednesday at 3 p.m. and replays Sundays at 1 p.m. on KOYT-FM 97.1. Shows are available over the airwaves or via livestream from any mobile device or computer from the radio station’s website, http://www.koyt971.org.

To contact Annika Knoppel, call her at 951-234-1314 or 951-389-0220. Follow the show on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fikawithannika/.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.