Kajon Cermak is KCRW’s traffic queen, reporting on Southern California’s roads on weekday evenings during All Things Considered. Before moderating a panel on the future of traffic in L.A., she explained in the Zócalo green room why 1984 was the most important year of her life, how she relaxes, and what kind of radio nightmares keep her from sleeping.
What’s your hidden talent?
My talents are never hidden. [Laughs.] Everybody knows them. I live out loud.
How do you like your coffee?
Cream and sugar. Actually, I like lattes.
Which of your friends or colleagues tells the best jokes?
What was the most important year of your life?
I suppose the year I was born wouldn’t be right. That would be my mother’s most important year. Certainly her best year. Let’s say 1984. I made the decision to move from Chicago to Los Angeles.
What’s the last board game you played?
How do you relax?
I garden. I read a lot. I have a hammock in my garden I put up, and I spend time there feeding hummingbirds and butterflies. And I love to eat, I love to play with my dog, long walks on the beach … large bottles of wine. Wine was always a good relaxer. I meditate. Trying to do it more and more. Exercise. Play piano. But probably the most relaxing thing I do is gardening.
What kind of car do you drive?
A BMW. It’s old. A red one. A red convertible. I bought it from a colleague at work.
What’s your favorite under-the-radar spot in Los Angeles?
I’m liking what’s going on in Koreatown. I like what Chef [Roy] Choi is doing—the Line Hotel. They have guitars in the rooms for rockers who stay there. I don’t know how underground it is, but I’m just wowed by a hotel that serves musicians like that. I’m not too underground at this point in my life. I don’t go to raves. All the people I care about who are so talented I work with—the best DJs, the most incredible musicians—so I don’t have to go underground anymore. I can stay aboveground.
If you had one more hour in the day, what would you do with it?
What keeps you up at night?
When I first started in radio, nightmares about pushing the right buttons at the right time. That kept me up, nightmares for two to three years. I’ll still get one every now and then. I’ll be pushing the mic button, and it won’t go on, and [All Things Considered anchor] Steve Chiotakis is looking at me asking, “What’s going on?” Actually, the news keeps me up at night. What’s going on in the world.