It’s life on the go for media maven Susan Farrell
Former television anchor, now media consultant, Susan Farrell grew up expecting to move every year or so. The daughter of a naval aviator, she attended more than a dozen schools, with her junior year in high school at her fourth high school. Her education also included schooling in Europe, off and on, from age 12.
Her flexibility served Farrell well as a broadcast journalist. She began her career while still at San Diego State University, working for two stations and carrying a full class load. Armed with a B.A. in journalism, she set out to tackle broadcasting “without having to move again.”
During more than two decades on local airwaves, Farrell covered a variety of topics, with emphasis on law, politics and the military. Along with accumulating experiences and awards, Farrell had frequent requests for media advice and coaching. As San Diego Opera’s director of public relations and as chief executive officer of USO San Diego, she learned to understand both the front and back ends of issues.
She has received commendations from the city and county of San Diego, as well as the state of California, and was named a Dama de Distincion by the Mexican-American Foundation. Farrell is a member of Rotary Club of La Jolla.
What brought you to La Jolla?Even though we were always moving from one duty station to another, our family considered the San Diego area home. When I wrapped up at San Diego State and began pursuing broadcasting opportunities, I wanted to be near family in Coronado, and La Jolla just happened.
What makes this town special to you?The way our lives spin so quickly, I really get a kick out of running into a friend at the grocery store, or waving as I pass someone on the street. Those are small pleasures that you really can’t duplicate. Add to that an environment where you may easily hear a handful of different languages spoken, and we have a terrific mix of the best of city and suburban life.
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?I guess it’s a sign of the times, but it would be nice if drivers would remember that stop signs are not just a suggestion, and pedestrians need to remember it’s their responsibility to look before stepping off the curb. And texting shouldn’t be done while moving in any form. But that’s not just particular to La Jolla. My family teases me that next I’ll be yelling, “You kids get off my lawn!”
Who or what inspires you?People who are kind, who give without expecting in return. Honesty.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?You know, I would probably just go through my address book and take the first eight names who were free on that date. My loved ones and friends are all so dear, and we always wish there was more time to get together. If Queen Elizabeth were available, she could probably dish about some pretty heavy-hitters. So could the late Vernon Walters. And my second-grade teacher, Joan Bryant, who still lives in Coronado, would be fun. She and my mom still like to share opinions on me.
What is your most-prized possession?Time. There is never enough of it. Time for family, friends, projects, thinking, reading — even sleeping! If only we could buy it in bulk.
Tell us what you are currently reading.Most recently I finished “A Big Little Life” by Dean Koontz, which was wonderful. It has a local connection, with the Canine Companions for Independence training center in Oceanside. You don’t have to like dogs to enjoy the book, but if you do, it’s even better. Right now, I’m halfway through “Teacher Man” by the late Frank McCourt, which is a bit different from his first two books. And I’m just starting — finally — “Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Tom Friedman. I think it’s been on my stack for more than a year. And I’ve always got a couple of other books going as well, usually escape fiction. Our family has always joked that books are our only addiction.
What do you do for fun?Oh my, photography, travel, reading, cooking, trying to cram extra hours into every day. Sometimes when we can arrange our schedules, a day trip to Mount Laguna can be a wonderful treat. One of these days, I’m going to make time to resume piano lessons.
Please describe your greatest accomplishment.While I’ve had the good fortune to experience many wonderful people and events, I’m not certain that anything yet counts for a greatest achievement. When you have the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives, it’s very rewarding. A three-year appointment to a Pentagon advisory panel on women in the military allowed me to work with a wonderful variety of people from around the nation, and we all enjoyed the chance to assist those who serve our country. Something like that gives you a bigger reward than anything you could possibly do for them.
I was thrilled to be named a national finalist for NASA’s Journalist in Space Program. Sadly for our nation, the Challenger tragedy ended that program.
There are still so many things I want to accomplish, I doubt that there will ever be a “greatest.”
What is your motto or philosophy of life?Just do your best, that’s all we can ask of anyone. And I’m trying hard to learn not to sweat the small stuff.