Companies to work for
1. Granville Homes
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The owners of Granville Homes, the Assemi family, have created a strong company culture through their ethical business practices and clear concern and appreciation for each and every employee. They truly care about their staff and do everything within their power to ensure the staff is taken care of.
“Granville’s dedication to our community is contagious, and that enthusiasm carries over to all of our employees,” a spokesman said. “It is incredibly rewarding to work for a company that can show frequent, tangible results of their community outreach efforts.”
Beyond that, Granville offers a generous benefits package that includes full insurance, a 401(k) program, education compensation, child care compensation and much more. It also offers additional benefits such as catered lunch several times a week, fresh and healthy snacks daily and the opportunity to participate in various community events year round. Plus, the company is dog-friendly, and nothing improves morale like having puppies running around the office.
Employees donate to various causes they are passionate about, whether it is by financial donation or volunteering their time to nonprofit organizations that provide access to food, shelter, healthcare and education for people in need.
Granville Homes periodically offers a free homebuyer seminar to folks interested in learning about the pros and cons of home ownership. Dates, times and locations of the seminar are available on the company website.
2. Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
711 Lucky Lane, Coarsegold
3. Guarantee Real Estate
Local Radio Personality/Team
1. Jody Jo & Gnarley Charley
KISS Country 93.7 FM
Judy. Garland’s. Remains. Jumping on the phone with 93.7 KISS Country’s popular radio personality duo, Jody Jo Mize and “Gnarley” Charley Fitzgerald, the two did what they do best, immediately jiving on a riff about news of the late actress’ remains being moved from New York to L.A. with an ease and familiarity that can only come from years of practice.
“We play well off of each other. I always know when he’s going to say something dumb because he smirks like he is now,” Mize explains.
“And I have freedom because Jody Jo will say ‘hey.’ The audience is more forgiving because Jody told me stop it,” Fitzgerald adds. “We then turn into two dogs running down an alley knocking over trash cans.”
The pair have been co-hosting KISS Country’s morning show since 2010 — a dream Mize says both have been harboring since she was only a teenager. Mize and Fitzgerald both grew up in the Central Valley, and use that same comfortable relationship the two have established with one another with their listeners.
“We can talk about local things, and it’s all so familiar because we’ve lived here most of our lives,” Mize says, before Fitzgerald adds his input. “They feel like they can chime in.”
“When we’re out in public they’ll say, ‘Hey, Jody. Where’s Charley?’ And I’ll say, “Where’s the nearest bar?”
The style of their morning show is to let it all hang out: personal is better and is a nice forum to build and discuss topics as stories.
“You know our family’s names, kid’s names, pet’s names,” Mize says. “We love knowing that we connect with everyone — not just talk to them, but have a relationship with them. We are doing what we aim to do: make a bazillion friends. It’s nice to know that they reciprocate that.”
You can catch Mize and Fitzgerald out and about town on a weekly basis, whether it be at a new business opening, working as emcees for a fundraising event or giving voice to a local cause like Valley Children’s Hospital, American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign or Pink Heals.
The KISS Country team is also hoping to earn a nomination at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, with plans to broadcast at the event in Las Vegas in April.
“I can’t see myself doing a morning show without Charley,” Mize says. “I feel the same way,” Fitzgerald says. “We’ve reached the point where we’re symbiotic. Jody is my parasite partner. She can bring it back where it needs to be.”
New Rock 104.1 FM
3. Greg & Dre
1. Tommy Tran
KFSN, ABC TV30
It’s a hat-trick for ABC 30’s sports director, Tommy Tran. And if you’re not familiar with the term, well, Tran wouldn’t hold it against you — being a sports snob isn’t his style.
“My news director and manager give me a lot of freedom and flexibility to be myself,” he says. “I have this mentality and approach that when I present sports, it’s like someone is setting next to me on the couch or in a bar. It’s all very informal and basic.”
This is the third year Tran has been voted favorite sportscaster by readers, making for a nice way to mark his seventh year with ABC 30. The journalist has worn many hats in his career, starting out as a news reporter and still fills in at the anchor’s desk from time to time. He enjoys a bit of variety because it allows him to integrate different elements into his sports segments.
“I diversify in how I look at and cover things,” Tran explains. “I’m not afraid to bring pop culture and politics into sports.”
That diversity extends to the region’s wide range of athletics year round, including Fresno State football, Clovis Rodeo, Fresno Grizzlies and Clovis and Buchanan high schools’ intense wrestling rivalry.
Tran also conducts a weekly segment with Oakland Raiders’ quarterback and Fresno State alum, Derek Carr, and has given ABC 30 viewers — and the sports director himself — a unique look at the Raiders’ breakout season before Carr’s injury toward the end of 2016.
He takes great pride in being accessible to the public through social media platforms, regularly receiving photos of viewers’ kids at soccer games and uses the medium to stay connected to viewers on a more personal level.
“It’s hard for people to stick around for sports, so I don’t take that for granted at all. I appreciate those that stick around and watch,” Tran says. “I work for a great station and for people to do that [vote] means a lot. It’s means I’m doing my job, and continue to make sure that I put in everything I can.”
2. Ralph Wood
KMPH, FOX TV26
3. Paul Loeffler
1. Kopi Sotiropulos
KMPH, FOX TV26
There are two things Kopi Sotiropulos knows: He’s not sure why voters continue to honor him with People’s Choice Awards nods each year — but that doesn’t make the recognition any less humbling.
The longtime TV anchor has spent his entire career with KMPH, first as a copywriter and then — after a 10-year hiatus flexing his acting chops in Hollywood — returned to the station as a weathercaster in 1992. In 2003, he joined the “Great Day” morning show, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The key to his success: treating the viewers as friends.
“You have to be able to communicate with the viewer and make them feel like they’re important whether it is serious or lighthearted,” Sotiropulos says. “We treat them like you’re their friend and vice versa because you come into their home every morning. So when they see you out and about, they feel comfortable coming up and talking to you.”
He credits each of the “Great Day” reporters and co-anchor, Kim Stephens, with bringing a special amount of energy, fun and a sense of gravity to the KMPH FOX 26 morning show depending on the story, explaining that all of the team’s combined talent and work is what makes viewers tune in each day.
Sotiropulos also enjoys meeting people in the community while on the job. Whether it’s out filming “Great Day” faces, shooting the intro for his weather segment’s 10-day forecast or acting as the emcee for various fundraisers, special events or school functions — being a part of the fabric of the community is one of the great joys of the TV anchor’s life.
“I grew up here from when I was 3 1/2 years old, so this is home,” Sotiropulos says. “It’s nice to have fun and do what I can in the community to help out.”
2. Warren Armstrong
KFSN, ABC TV30
3. Graciela Moreno
KFSN, ABC TV30
1. Kopi Sotiropulos
KMPH, FOX TV26
People have access to the day’s weather forecast from the convenience of their smart devices now, and Kopi Sotiropulos is A-OK with that — he’s still going to do what he’s been doing at KMPH FOX 26 since 1992: share the weather with its viewers.
“You’re going to give them the information that you have. And if they choose to watch it on our station, we’re there,” he says.
The “Great Day” host and well-known face in the community had to learn weather terminology and basic meteorology know-how in a short period before officially going on air as the station’s newly minted weathercaster, attributing the trajectory of his career since then to the people around him and a lot of luck.
Plus, Fresno’s Mediterranean climate makes Sotiropulos’ work much more predictable, allowing Kopi to be, well, Kopi.
“It’s very conversational. I deliver it in a way that I understand it and the viewer understands it. I don’t use too technical of terminology,” he says. “I get in there and have fun with it — for the viewers and us, too.”
Sotiropulos’ segments also incorporate members of the community for his famous 10-day forecasts, allowing the news station to highlight various schools, organizations and clubs and give them a visible platform. And receiving another People’s Choice Award in this category is just a bonus for what he describes as an unbelievable gig.
“I’ve been blessed to be in this business for so long,” Sotiropulos says. “I’m very thankful to be working at FOX 26 all these years and with a great crew behind and in front of the scenes.”
2. Kevin Musso
KFSN, ABC TV30
3. AJ Fox
KSEE, NBC TV24