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On an overcast Saturday, a speedboat ripped past Lake Minnetonka mansions as the skipper pointed out those supposedly owned by Target CEO Brian Cornell, former Wild winger Zach Parise and the Pohlads. Meanwhile, a passenger hiked up his shorts to reveal the freshly inked name of another Minnesota celeb: Falen Bonsett.

Colt Parkey, co-host of Falen's 101.3 KDWB weekday afternoon show, had just gotten the duo's "Falen & Colt" logo tattooed on his leg, the result of an on-air dare. Now he was wondering, perhaps belatedly, if Falen's husband might not take kindly to seeing her name on another man's thigh.

"Jake doesn't care," Falen said with a laugh as she prepared to throw T-shirts to a group of boaters for a KDWB promotion. She did point out another concern: Now all of Parkey's co-hosts, past and present, would expect the same commemorative treatment.

Parkey grinned. "No one compares to you," he said.

During the decade she spent as Dave Ryan's KDWB morning-show sidekick, Falen, as she's best known, established herself as one of the most outspoken female radio personalities in the Twin Cities: a funny, crass, self-described "oversharer" who stood out for her willingness to talk about taboo subjects, from family secrets to the most unflattering bodily functions.

Last year, Falen's popularity led her to become one of the rare women to host a prime-time radio show. She did so by smashing the old Top 40 trope where the guy did most of the talking, and the young gal by his side was mostly hip, giggly eye candy.

The 40-year-old mom might talk about cute kid stuff on air, but she'll also cop to, say, having the hots for the Monopoly Man. (Her best pickup line: "Before I buy property, I'll probably need an inspection — if you know what I mean.") "I'm kind of a vulgar woman," she admitted. "So I'm also gonna share some highly inappropriate things about my life."

Falen has leveraged her radio fame on other public platforms — three podcasts, multiple social media accounts, TV and event appearances — to become one of Minnesota's most visible media personalities. Yet while other notables might ink endorsement deals with Nike, Falen is the face of a laxative brand.

It's one of many examples of how Falen became known as one of the most open of open books, offering her audience unfiltered, unfettered access to even her most embarrassing feelings and thoughts. She sobbed on air. She revealed her oh-so-relatable foibles (powdering her boob sweat) and insecurities (fretting over what people think about her; self-sabotaging by reading mean comments online). And she made listeners comfortable admitting their own.

As of this week, Falen's unlikely blend of vulnerability and wit will reach a broader audience around the country now that she's added a second gig to her day, as the new co-host of Jason Matheson's titular Fox 9 TV show, "The Jason Show" (10 a.m. weekdays).

While most attention-magnet jokesters aren't known for their emotional intelligence, this potty-mouthed class clown is also, it turns out, a sensitive ponytail gal — with a soft underbelly that's taken its share of pokes. And her listeners and viewers love her for it.

"I have never seen a singular talent connect with an audience the way that Falen does," said Matheson, a three-decade veteran of the broadcasting biz.

Falen Bonsett and Colt Parkey, of KDWB's "Falen & Colt" show take a selfie with boaters on Lake Minnetonka.
Falen Bonsett and Colt Parkey, of KDWB's "Falen & Colt" show take a selfie with boaters on Lake Minnetonka.

Nicole Neri, Special to the Star Tribune

'That is my dopamine'

Falen grew up in a small town in southern Indiana, near the Kentucky border, which imprinted her with a lilting twang and a practical streak. She didn't shy from bottle-feeding her Uncle Eddie's pet raccoon or wielding her dad's brush-burning flamethrower. To this day, Falen doesn't think her father has ever heard her work the mic. (Streaming would be a stretch for the cattle farmer who's never owned a computer. He did name a cow after her, though.)

Falen discovered radio during college, through a gig at a small Indiana rock station. She realized that being a chatty goof (her first-grade teacher called her "giggle box"; in high school, she was voted class clown) qualified her for a career doing what she loved. "I've always enjoyed getting a laugh from people," she said. "That is my dopamine."

Though Falen was named after a "Dynasty" character, she says her brand of entertainment isn't an act. When she applied for "The Dave Ryan Show," she mined her own life for humor by submitting a self-deprecating video tour of Reno, Nev., where she was working on a morning radio show. "Sometimes you are a little bit of a caricature of yourself," she said of her on-air persona. "But for the most part, I think that truly successful people are not playing a character. They are being themselves."

Ryan liked her material, but didn't have funds to fly her in for an interview. So the broke 20-something showed her commitment by booking a $500 nonrefundable ticket to Minneapolis on her credit card. When Ryan had to reschedule, she booked a second $500 flight. ("It was very scary.")

After an on-air tryout, she got the job. And a new audience eager to hear more: During her two-day KDWB interview, she gained more Twitter followers than she had during two years in Reno.

The KDWB morning-show team in 2018: Dave Ryan, Falen Bonsett, and Steve LaTart.
The KDWB morning-show team in 2018: Dave Ryan, Falen Bonsett, and Steve LaTart.

Dave Puente

100% honest

While Falen has made a career out of talking, she's also an astute listener.

In 2018, she launched her own interview podcast called "Heartbroken," spurred by KDWB listeners seeking her sympathetic ear after she shared her own bumpy path to long-term love. (She and husband Jake Gotler have a daughter and a stepson. Their 2018 wedding vows included Falen promising to pluck Jake's unibrow because "Two eyebrows are better than one.") Some 2 million downloads later, Falen switched to a new podcast topic last year: "Right Person, Wrong Time," focused on listeners' experiences with relationships that ended and rekindled.

On the radio, Falen likes to bring listeners into the conversation circle, asking them to chime in to share, say, a time something made them feel old, or the rudest thing anyone has ever said to them. Parkey describes his on-air banter with Falen as nearly identical to what they'd have over drinks at a bar. ("But with a few less swearwords" he clarified.)

Parkey explains Falen's fearless, no-holds-barred approach to radio with a mountain-biking metaphor. Where other personalities might hesitate to jump into risky subject matter, he says, Falen's willingness to fully commit to the bit enables her to stick the landing. "There isn't any holding back, and it's all just 100% honest."

That means Falen leans into awkward topics others would be ashamed to discuss, from intestinal troubles to thigh chafing. The warmth in her voice and her Kewpie-doll smile somehow make her expositions on plucking chin hair or blowing snot rockets almost charming. "What sets Falen apart," Ryan notes, "is she can go there and still be relatable and palatable, even if she's talking about her hemorrhoids."

Yes, while Oprah may open up about her weight loss, or Savannah Guthrie her miscarriage, Falen goes where other female public figures haven't dared: straight talk on swollen veins in the nether regions. Falen's viral TikTok video on having her hemorrhoids removed (the pain was "worse than childbirth") led to a recent interview for a Self magazine article.

Instead of being grossed out, Falen's fans seem to appreciate knowing they're not alone in their bad breath or body odor. "There are definitely people who are experiencing the same thing, and they feel seen when she says those things," Parkey said.

"It's like, 'What do I care?' " Falen explains. "I'm not trying to date people. I'm not trying to impress anyone or have them be turned on by me."

Jason Matheson and Falen Bonsett, his new co-host on Fox 9's "The Jason Show."
Jason Matheson and Falen Bonsett, his new co-host on Fox 9's "The Jason Show."

The 'queen' of flaws

Historically, pop radio's paradigm was to pair a male host with a female sidekick, mostly to laugh at his jokes. Even today, among the top 20 most popular radio shows nationwide, only three are hosted by women.

As Falen broke this gender barrier, she defied the longstanding cultural expectation that female entertainers present themselves with a certain level of polish, discretion and sex appeal — a notion that doesn't quite apply to men.

It was only a decade ago that a male Variety reviewer chastised comedian Sarah Silverman for being as "dirty and distasteful as the boys." And when a Twin Cities magazine recently dubbed a male radio host "one of the most lovable lumps in local media," it invited the question: Would a woman who fit that description ever have been hired for the gig?

Before MyTalk 107.1′s "Lori & Julia" show hit the airwaves in 2002, Matheson noted, women in Twin Cities radio didn't really talk about sex. Falen, he says, took taboo-busting a step further, presenting herself "scars and all" to a degree that other female personalities hadn't. Something that's even harder for women to do, he notes, because of the double standard that audiences apply to women's appearance.

Ryan says that even though "beautiful, perfect" personas are a dime a dozen on Instagram, that's not what audiences want from radio personalities, who they see as virtual friends. "I want to be friends with somebody who's got the same problems that I do — it's all about relatability," he said. "Falen is the queen of talking about reality and flaws."

Falen's knocking herself off the proverbial pedestal makes listeners feel like she'll never look down on them. And that they don't have to pretend to be something they're not.

"With her beautiful imperfections, the audience didn't feel intimidated by her," Matheson said. "They saw themselves in her. And that is a connection that you cannot find or buy. You either have that or you don't. You can't be taught to have that level of no effs."

Falen Bonsett at a KDWB promotional event on Lake Minnetonka.
Falen Bonsett at a KDWB promotional event on Lake Minnetonka.

Nicole Neri, Special to the Star Tribune

'They genuinely don't like me'

For many people, work and life are competing forces to balance. But for someone such as Falen, life's experiences and personal perspectives funnel directly into work. Your job is, essentially, being you.

But for someone who doesn't seem to care what she says, Falen does care what people think. Far more than she wishes.

If a diner doesn't like a dish at a restaurant, Falen explains, the chef can chalk it up to different tastes. "But when people don't like me, they genuinely don't like me," she said. "That is a hard pill to swallow as someone who wants people to like them."

Getting older, becoming a parent and going to therapy, Falen says, have helped her decouple her job and identity. And after getting burned a few times, she's pulling back a bit on what she's willing to share. "Some would argue I should pull back more," she added. (Jake, by the way, plays a good-natured supporting character in Falen's story, unfazed by his wife's revealing of, say, his pubic-hair grooming habits.)

While much of the barrage of feedback Falen receives is positive, she has been subjected to plenty of unprintable, often sexist critiques. This led her to recently post a raw, tear-stained TikTok about trying to ignore the haters. "Anytime I stand up for myself, I literally spiral the rest of the day," she said. "I'm so worried about their perception of me."

But admitting her weakness online became a source of strength, drawing more than 10,000 supportive comments.

While Matheson looks forward to witty repartee with his new co-host, he says Falen's depth of vulnerability is what makes her unique.

"She is willing to get on social media and look like hammered hell and not care," he said. "She's willing to show us her not-beautifully-edited moments. There is a level of transparency and authenticity that Falen has, that 95% of people that do these types of jobs do not. They do what I call fake humility, but she is totally out there in a very authentic way."