You might recognize Katie as a popular radio DJ on Morgantown, West Virginia’s 101.9 WVAQ “The Hit Music Channel,” but Richter is more than just a record-breaking local celebrity – this self-proclaimed “social butterfly” is the heart and soul of our area’s social scene. After appearing in the list of “Top 50 Hottest Women In Radio” two years in a row and working with the same team who recently won a NAB Marconi Radio Award (watch their acceptance speech here), it’s clear that Katie’s influence reaches far beyond the scope of her mic. Without further ado, myself and TricycleOffense.com bring you an interview with the real Katie Richter!
Justin Umstead: What inspired you to enter the field of broadcasting?
Katie Richter: Oh my goodness, that’s such a funny story! Actually, I’ve been to two universities. I went to community college when I was a senior in high school and I took all nursing classes. I thought I wanted to be a nurse. There’s no way I could do nursing! It’s really hard, you have to have perfect grades, and I’ve never been a straight A student. I’ve always been more worried about my social life than caring about academics or sports or any of that type of stuff. I’m more of a social butterfly.
Honestly, I went to WVU because it was the number one party school. I was 18 at the time and that’s all that I cared about [Laughing]. I decided to try teaching and realized that I’m not very good with kids so I went into print journalism. My friend was a broadcast major and said “Well, you’re not completely busted – You’re not ugly or anything. Why don’t you get into broadcasting?” So I thought – okay, I’ll try this out. I studied television journalism and that’s what I graduated with my degree in. I interviewed for internships with WBOY and WVAQ, but WVAQ was the first to get back to me so I started interning with them in 2009.
JU: So broadcasting was natural for you then?
KR: Yeah, it’s really odd how things kind of progressed. They say “Don’t worry about it, you’ll find your niche. Your path will find you” – mine really did!
JU: What’s your favorite part of working in radio?
KR: It’s actually not being in the studio doing my live show, it’s definitely when I get to go out and do an event. That’s my favorite part.
JU: So you like to be out interacting with people one on one.
KR: Right! It’s so nice to interact – like when you’re playing a game or you’re giving someone a prize and you get to see the direct impact on their faces. You’re not getting that kind of gratification 6 months down the road with a rating.
JU: So do you get to talk to a lot of interesting people and celebrities from outside West Virginia?
KR: Absolutely! For example, four months after starting my full time job I was able to interview Chilli from TLC. I’ve also interviewed the guy who does the voice for Winnie the Pooh [Jim Cummings] and that was pretty cool. Those were on-air interviews. Today I met the vice president of a record label in Pittsburgh [Chukky Okobi] – he actually used to be a former Pittsburgh Steeler. He even let me wear his super bowl ring and take a picture in it. I’m originally from Pittsburgh and I’m also a huge Steelers fan so that was like the crème de la crème of awesomeness for me!
JU: Did you ever consider taking on radio in Pittsburgh?
KR: Maybe somewhere down the road – I’m not in a huge rush to leave Morgantown like most kids are after they graduate. I like the community here; it’s so close-knit. As horrible as this may sound, I kind of enjoy being a big fish in a small pond. In Pittsburgh, you would definitely be a lot more anonymous which can be welcome sometimes. I’m actually going through this whole ordeal right now with a super creepy listener and I thought I was going to have to get a restraining order. So it would be nice to have a little bit of my privacy back. I know most people don’t really think about it – especially when it involves the radio because no one knows what I look like – but social media has opened a whole new floodgate [Laughing]. Some people try to become your friend to use you – or say they are hooking up with you even though you don’t even know who they are. It’s definitely a double edged sword.
JU: That brings up an interesting topic; I notice you were voted one of the “Top 50 Hottest Women In Radio.” How do you feel about that?
KR: Both 2011 and 2012! Honestly, I’m flattered and I’m happy to be recognized for the way that I look – but I’m more focused on my career, how I sound, and how I’m perceived in the community than my appearances. I feel like that’s something a lot of women have to deal with in their field. I don’t want to be pegged as just another skirt in the office.
JU: Are there any challenges with working in radio that you’d like to share?
KR: There are a lot of challenges – a lot of people don’t really understand how radio works and that’s one of the biggest issues that I deal with. One of the things that come up a lot is “Why does the radio repeat songs so often? Why aren’t you playing this song on this station?” There are a lot of issues and technicalities that are backed by research, but why would a person care enough to go online and research how radio stations work? That would be a waste of time for them. They just want to be able to turn it on and listen. We’re the only media in the world which is used by 94% of people – not even television has that type of viewership. Revenues are generated by commercials; we aren’t paid by record labels to play songs. Research is done to prove the station has an audience and that’s why Rush Limbaugh is so polarizing. The record labels claim they are not generating enough revenue, which I personally find hard to believe since they pay $1 million to create a Rihanna song and then tax the radio stations for freely promoting their product. That just doesn’t make sense! That would be like Comcast paying their sponsors – they just wouldn’t do that.
JU: I’ve heard you like to take on DIY projects. What sort of stuff do you like to do?
KR: Okay, honestly I’m a selective, cost-conscious person. I’m a radio DJ, no one in the media makes that much money and if tell you they do – they’re lying [Laughing]. Which that’s fine; it’s something I’m willing to trade for the other benefits of my job. I had some old furniture from college which was pretty disgusting. I threw maybe 50 million house parties so it looked like it had been beaten in some type of rave or something [Laughing]. I just spent a lot of money to build a new house, so I wanted to hold off on getting brand new furniture. I saw this stuff on Pinterest all the time about people refinishing furniture so I decided to do it with my old living room furniture. It was a fun project which I did over a couple of weeks. I’m actually not an active person when it comes to building things – this is the first project I’ve ever done. I enjoyed it; I thought it was fun seeing the results. I’m definitely a results driven person. My husband showed me how to use the sander and I did the entire project by myself.
JU: So do you consider yourself more of an outdoors person?
KR: Well…..no [Laughing]. I’m definitely a city slicker. I grew up in the country which makes zero sense; you’d figure I would enjoy that lifestyle like mud-bogging and that type of stuff – definitely not. I hate bugs and I hate getting dirty. I like to go out with my friends and try different restaurants. I don’t mind sitting outside on the patio and having a BBQ with friends, but that’s about as far as it goes outside. With fleshing eating viruses and stuff like that I’m just not willing to take the risk [Laughing].
JU: What about hitting the range?
KR: Well, I guess that’s kind of outdoorsy. My husband is a huge gun fanatic and I was super-opposed to guns before him. I’ve had several friends and acquaintances commit suicide, so I hated guns. But he showed me how they could be fun. We shoot skeet sometimes and we do a lot of target shooting. We used to go out to the public range in Pursglove, but they recently closed that down. So we just do it at whoever’s house has a lot of property. We’re not hunters or anything.
JU: So what is your favorite make and model to shoot? Do you prefer a rifle, a shotgun, or pistol?
KR: I really don’t have a favorite. Obviously, a .22 is the easiest to shoot because there is no real kick back with it. I do enjoy some of my husband’s larger handguns like the Glock 40. You feel like Angelina Jolie in some crazy spy movie when you shoot it because it’s such a massive gun. There’s so much power when you pull the trigger.
JU: So how do you feel about cooking?
KR: Actually, I hate cooking. I eat take-out all the time – that’s actually my biggest dieting downfall. If I cook, it has to be something that I like to eat. I always look up recipes online but I don’t cook on a regular basis – I might cook once or twice a week. I’m never really home to cook.
JU: What sort of movies do you like?
KR: This might surprise you a little bit but I really don’t like to watch movies. If I’m going to watch movies, it has to be a comedy. I hate scary movies! I’m that person you hate in the movie theatre that screams and jumps at every little thing during a scary movie.
JU: What sort of things do you like to do in your spare time?
KR: I like to do social things. If the station is having an event or a party – even if I’m not the person broadcasting – I’ll try to make it out. I also like going to concerts. I went to see 311 at Stage AE in Pittsburgh and it was a lot of fun! I also like to DJ on the side. [Editor's note: Katie regularly DJs at Bent Willey's, one of Morgantown's hottest night spots.]
JU: You work for WVAQ, so obviously you work with a lot of “Top 40” hits. Who is your all-time favorite artist? What is your favorite personal genre?
KR: My favorite artist since 1999 has been Britney Spears. [Pause]. I know! [Laughing] I can’t even be embarrassed about it because of how much I like her. I’m one of those weirdos that would make one of those “Leave Britney Alone” videos.
JU: …That’s not bad.
KR: [Pause] Well I’m glad that you don’t think it’s bad [Laughing]!
JU: How about hip-hop?
KR: I listen to rap music too, but if I had to list my favorite artist it would definitely be Brittany Spears. I can’t really put a label on what my favorite genre is. I even like a few country songs, which honestly isn’t my first choice. I like electronic, classic rock, classic hits – anything. I even worked with U92 for a short time so I enjoy Indie music.
JU: Is anything exciting happening at VAQ right now?
KR: We’re actually in the running for a Marconi award tomorrow which is like the Grammy Awards of radio – it’s a huge deal. We are competing for the “CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio) Station of the Year”. The ceremony is tomorrow night in Dallas My general station manager, Gary Mertins, and programming director, Lacy Neff, are there right now. We won’t find out until tomorrow night. So I texted them today and said “you definitely need to text me the second you find out.” I get really impatient and anxious when I’m waiting for a rating or a big award [since the interview they won the award; pictured above].
Make sure to tune into Katie’s show from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM EST on WV’s hit music station – 101.9 WVAQ or online at http://www.wvaq.com. You can also follow her on Twitter here. I’d like to thank Katie for taking the time to interview with us and we look forward to tuning in to your show and your future endeavors!.