By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Nov 02, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Katrina Cravy isn't from Milwaukee, but it's as good as home for the California native. It was a job that brought her here, and it also took her away. The FOX 6 anchor and reporter will also admit that it was a man who convinced her to come back to Wisconsin, but ultimately, meeting her husband (and then coworker) is what kept her here for good.

Cravy, 41, is one of the hosts of "Real Milwaukee," the locally-produced morning show on Channel 6. Even though motherhood helped her decide to step away from the evening anchor desk, she also serves the station's consumer investigative reporter through her role as the "Contact 6" point person.

Recently, we caught up with Cravy over lunch to discuss her changing job and the industry as a whole, but also what it's like to share (and avoid "oversharing") details of her life in an increasingly personality-driven business. Enjoy this latest Milwaukee Talks. Usually, when we do a Milwaukee Talks interview with someone in the media, we're revealing a side of him or her that the public doesn't always see. But you, with "Real Milwaukee," are already putting most of it out there, right?

Katrina Cravy: It's different, because I was afraid that no one would care once I put it out there. I'd be doing the news for years, but did anyone care about my personal life?

OMC: Apparently they do. Why do you think so?

KC: In some ways, it's building that commonality. A lady called me the other day and left me a message saying that she used to think I was really uptight, but then she saw me with my neighbor on the first day of school, drinking champagne and Skyping into the show. She said, "Now I know you're really cool." I don't know if I'm really cool, but at least I'm not uptight!

OMC: "Real Milwaukee" must be a pretty dramatic shift from what you did the first part of your career.

KC: It is different. I couldn't have any opinions at all. I was supposed to be unbiased. Then, when they gave me "Contact 6," which I was not expecting when Tom Hooper retired in '99, I thought they were crazy. I was 28, and Tom Hooper had opinions. I thought, "I get to have an opinion now?" Now, they put me on a show where they want my opinion every day.

OMC: Even though you're still young, you've really seen the local news landscape change, right?

KC: It has. When I started at FOX 6, they used to come around and hand us our e-mails on paper. We only had one e-mail address. Now, my e-mail is the bane of my existence. It's great, you want a lot of feedback, but sometimes it's a little much.

OMC: What do you like better? Reporting or the personality-driven stuff?

KC: I like them differently. I like researching, so I like "Contact 6." "Real Milwaukee" is different because I like the producing of it because it's the itty-bitty nuances that can take the conversations somewhere. I have a list of things called "nothings" that will keep us going.

OMC: Are you the official "quarterback" of "Real Milwaukee" or did you just sort of fall into that role?

KC: When the show started, Nicole (Koglin) and Rob (Haswell) were still doing "Wakeup" and were busy up until the start of the show. Cassandra (McShepard) was new to television, and I was the one with the producer in my ear. But after a while, the show kind of morphed, and we realized that it's bad for me to just give out the information and react. Now everyone is bringing stories to the group. We all have different backgrounds and ages.

OMC: Do you ever feel like you're sharing too much of your private life to the viewers?

KC: It is a weird feeling, and something that Scott, my husband, and I talked about. When Billy was first born, I was concerned about it a lot. My husband has been really great, and he was our live correspondent for the Brewers (this year).

OMC: You guys used to work together, right?

KC: Yeah, he worked in creative services at FOX 6. Our promotions director at the time told me that he had the perfect guy for me, and if you get a couple of beers in him, he's really funny. He got us together, and we were married within a year and four months of our first date.

OMC: You're from California, but you came to Milwaukee, left, then came back. Explain the Katrina Cravy story, please.

KC: I worked for Channel 4 and I was "non-renewed."

OMC: That's not the same thing as being fired ... or is it?

KC: They said I wasn't their first choice to go but I was the first contract to come up.

OMC: This was your second job out of college?

KC: I had only done one year in Parkersburg, West Virginia. I got to Milwaukee, was riding high, then (let go and) I was like, "Oh my gosh, what happens when you're not working?" It was scary, but looking back on it, it was a really good experience for me.

OMC: Where did you go after that?

KC: I went to Portland (Oregon). It was awesome. It was a bigger market, top 20. I was a weekend morning anchor and weekday reporter. That was super good.

OMC: So why did you come back to Milwaukee?

KC: For a guy. It didn't work out. I left my awesome job near my home with my apartment looking out at Mt. Hood. But I ended up meeting my husband at FOX 6 and the rest is history.

OMC: Did you like Milwaukee then? Do you like Milwaukee now?

KC: All of my really good girlfriends from Channel 4, I loved them to death. So I had come back, and I thought I never would, but I had it as an out in my contract. I sent my tape to Channel 6 and they called me within a week.

OMC: All these years later, do you feel like a Milwaukeean?

KC: I do. I go home once a year, and my parents come here once a year, but it's hard to travel with a little kid. FOX 6 has been terrific to me. It's so unusual when you're the main female anchor at night to come to them and say, "My son's about to go into kindergarten and I can't work this shift anymore," and they say, "OK, we'll figure something out."

OMC: You're talking about "Real Milwaukee?"

KC: It just so happens that they're creating this new show that they haven't had in like 30 years with perfect timing for me to move into a morning shift so I could be home with my kid in the afternoon. I mean, the show was not made for me, it was already in the works. But it just goes to show that you should never worry about anything in your life. I'm a really firm believer that God's got you covered. I don't know why I worried all that time because it worked out so well.

OMC: And it has worked out well. Your show is cleaning up in that time slot, right?

KC: We're doing well; what we're doing well at is having fun. I don't look at the daily numbers, though I hear about them later on.

OMC: What are you doing when you're not on TV?

KC: I never watch TV, because I have to go to bed, because I'm up by 4:30 a.m. Right now, I'm remodeling my bedroom. We still have Scott's college furniture, and I'm going to be 42. Time to upgrade. I'm pulling wallpaper off the walls, and I'm doing it with my mother-in-law while I'm drinking.

OMC: That sounds like either a recipe for awesomeness or a recipe for disaster.

KC: Doesn't that sound like a party? A little RumChata and wallpaper removal! Life is good. When you can come in, work, then be with your kid, it's good.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. 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 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.