When Katrina Cravy signs off from FOX 6 on Oct. 12, it will mark the end of a 20-year chapter in her life. But another one is about to open.
While the 46-year-old Emmy award-winning anchor, reporter and host has been a fixture at her station for almost 18 years, she’s preparing to embark on a career as a media relations consultant, speaker and author. Her first book comes out next month.
Many colleagues and viewers were surprised to see that Cravy is leaving television, but for her, it’s been a process several years in the making. She sees a need for businesses to learn how to pitch themselves to reporters like Cravy, and she’s ready to hit the ground running. Her new book, "On Air: Insider Secrets To Attract the Media and Get Free Publicity," is available for pre-order now.
We caught up with Cravy in this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee: Last time we did a Milwaukee Talks, I sort of expected you to stay at FOX6 for the rest of your career. Did you, too?
Katrina Cravy: I did. It was a couple years ago, and a women's group asked me to come speak to these women entrepreneurs. Everybody asked me, "How do I get on your show, and what do I need to do to be an expert in one of your stories?" I gave that talk that night, and out of one 150 women, I think 30 stayed behind to stand and wait for me to look at their product and tell them what they needed to do.
The husband of the woman who organized this told me, "You have information that people need." He just planted that seed, and then I started writing a book and that started three years ago so in my spare time. I just started writing, and now it's like 160 pages.
Was it at that point that you thought there might be a life after TV?
It sort of evolved. I enjoyed seeing the spark and the entrepreneurs.
There are an bunch of people who leave TV and go into PR or communications. Is this a risky move for you?
I think anyone who starts a new business, it's a risk. I have a business plan, but that doesn't mean that anyone's going to buy anything. The way that I've structured this is I do professional speaking, and I've got six different topics that I can talk about. Women's groups and that kind of stuff. I even say that my husband is not invited to this … and neither should yours.
I've got some other topics, because I've got a wealth of information as far as consumer news and that kind of stuff. So it's public speaking, it's one-on-one coaching, it's group coaching and the audio book … and then eventually there'll be a video training course, as well.
Do you have some clients lined up?
I got my first client the day after I announced. Town Bank hired me, and they are going to have me as a guest speaker to get new clients in, and they are buying books for everybody who comes. So that's amazing.
Will this be your full-time job?
I'm going all-in on this. The thing is that I honestly believe it's going to work, and if it doesn't work, that's OK.
I find it interesting that you’re leaving at the at the top of your game in Milwaukee TV.
FOX 6 gave me every opportunity. They gave me the main anchor job and then when I said, "My kid is going to school, I can't do the night shift," they gave me "Real Milwaukee." They started "Studio A," and they gave me that job. I've got all the fleeces and the coffee mugs; there's nothing more for me to do here, I've got to go start my own business.
How's that last day going to feel?
Oh, I'll cry. I've already cried several times. You can't go through a big transition like this without emotion. My mom said, "Whatever you do, don't just full-out blubber." I love all of my colleagues and not being in front of the camera is going to be interesting, and I'm going to see how much I enjoy helping people get in front of the camera. I've done it for more than 20 years. Now I want to have it be your turn. What can I do help you do your best when that camera light comes on?
Have your co-workers been supportive?
Yes, they've been really supportive. I think more people were in shock. If I hadn't done it, I would always be going, "I should have tried." I can't be that type of person, and I don't want my son to be that type of person. I want him to always say, "Hey, you got to always love life, love learning, sometimes that's about taking a risk."
Did you ever expect to be an entrepreneur?
I started my own company after college. We were going to do videos for small businesses. I picked up all the equipment in downtown Los Angeles. The Rodney King verdict had just come down. I had $5,000 worth of equipment and we said, "This is not the right time to start a business – we better get a real job." And we went and got real jobs and now, more than 20 years later, I am coming back and starting it.
Are you looking forward to a more normal schedule?
What is normal? I am going to guest host at WKLH for a couple mornings. I hope that I will get the chance to come back and guest host on "Real Milwaukee" sometimes. I think you'd have to give it a little while, but I don't see myself going back on TV.
Tell me about this book that’s been three years in the making.
It was in all my off-time. That's why it took so long. I don't want it to sound like "War and Peace." It’s about 160 pages, and it's just great information about how to write the killer emails to the stations, what you have to do to have it in the subject line, how big does the email need to be? How you make the phone call, who do you call? What does a producer do?
What about actually being on TV? Does it prep for that, too?
Yes, how you dress, what you should wear, what your table display should have.
So everything you have learned rolled up into one book.
Right. I try to make it funny. I have a weird sense of humor, but I'm always throwing those kind of things in there.
When does it come out?
My last day at FOX 6 is Oct. 12, so it will drop somewhere around there and the start of the business will start there, too, when the website design is done.
Do you hope to get a little more mom time now?
Billy thinks it will be more mom time because I think we will be able to schedule being home in the afternoons when he gets off of the bus in the afternoon, so he thinks it's pretty cool. I asked him, "Are you going to be OK?" because he's been a little celebrity in his own right in our little community.
Being the son of Katrina must come with some recognition.
This is something I've been doing since I was 17. I got an internship at a station when I was 17. I said, "Are you going to be all right? Mom's not going to be on TV anymore. You got this?" And he said, "I don't care."
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.