Kathy Romano is a mainstay in the Philadelphia radio industry. This fall, she celebrates 20 years as an on-air personality for “Preston & Steve,” a show on 93.3 WMMR. She also hosts her own weekly show, “Her Story” on 95.7 BEN-FM, spotlighting female voices making a difference in societies around the globe. On top of that, she runs a successful jewelry business called the Kathy Romano Collection.
We sat down for an extended conversation about her career and role in the Main Line area community.
Kathy Romano: So I actually was not in radio, I was in television, and I sort of just fell into radio. I was working for NBC-10 at the time and I was on the air there doing traffic and I was just a fill-in traffic reporter and the girl that I was filling in for, she came back. So I was off the air then at that point and Preston and Steve were doing their show at Y100 (WRNB) at the time and they had mentioned me.
They’re like, “What happened to that girl? Where’d she go? The girl that was doing traffic?” And I got a bunch of messages from people saying, “They’re asking about you.” And I, again, was just a fill-in traffic reporter. I didn’t have a full-time job, so I sent them my resume through mail at the time, put it in an envelope, sent it in the mailbox to them and they called me and they said, “Do you want to come in?” So I ended up sitting in on their show for a couple of months. And then eventually they offered me a job.
I was probably about 10 years in when I realized, “Oh wait, radio is my career.” I was like, oh, I fell into this job. We’ll see where it goes and see how long it lasts. And 10 years in, I was like, “Oh yeah, radio is my career.”
Romano: Yeah, so the “Preston & Steve” show is pretty much everything. We will do anything and everything. There’s only one topic that we stay away from, and that’s politics. We never talk politics. We give the people a break from that. They hear it all the time on television, on radio, on social media. So we’re sort of the outlet where you can come and we’re not going to talk politics. We rarely get into it. It’s kind of an unwritten rule. We just don’t talk about it, but we’ll talk about everything else, everything from entertainment [to] bizarre stories. We do a little bit of news in the morning and sports, we recap what’s happened the night before, things that happened to us, our experiences throughout the day. We’ll have a list of topics that we want to talk about, and we just choose from the list. But yeah, we’ll pretty much cover anything. We play very little music in the morning, probably about a song or two per hour, and that’s it.
And then on “Her Story,” that’s a show that I started…five or six years ago, and I focus on influential women. It started with influential women in the area, local women, which I still do a lot of, but the one good thing that came out of COVID was that I couldn’t have people in the studio, so I had to do phone interviews. I started to interview women who were in other states, and then I actually interviewed a few women who were in other countries. I realized that I could grow this if I didn’t have them right here in the studio with me. So now it’s people across the world. I’ll interview women doing different things in this world, making a difference, working for nonprofits, traveling across the world and doing interesting things. [I look for] somebody that has a story to tell or sometimes it’s, you know, I spoke to a mom who had to quit her job and stays home with her child. Her child was diagnosed with a rare disorder and she stays home with her child to try to help her kids. So it’s just a woman that has a story to tell, and that’s who I talk to.
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Romano: “No, no, it’s not daunting at all. We’re a family. So would you consider your family daunting? No, it’s a family. There’s issues, there’s problems and you argue and then you get over it. Some of the greatest times that we’ve had have been together in the studio during the show. We’ve traveled, we’ve gone overseas, we went to London together, we went to the Caribbean together, we’ve gone down to Florida together, we’ve gone to Chicago together. We’ve done pretty much everything and we’ve been through a lot, you know. We’ve been through cancer together.
“One of our members of the ship, Steve [Morrison], had cancer a few years ago. [Producer] Nick [McIlwain] went through a divorce. Preston [Elliot]’s got three kids. [Executive producer] Casey [Foster]’s got three kids. I’ve got one, Nick’s got one. You know, we’ve been through everything together.”
Romano: I mean I started as a production assistant for NBC-10 in the the newsroom and I sort of worked around the newsroom [doing] all the different aspects that a production assistant could do. And then I eventually ended up on air at NBC-10 reporting traffic. I did a few other news shows. I did one for UPN-57. I had a couple of packages that aired, and then I started working with Comcast Sportsnet and I did an Eagles pre- and post-game show. And then I also did a show called Monday Night Live, and that was great. That sort of entered me into the sports world and kept me in the TV world for a while. And then I did a couple of films.
I had my headshot and I would go to the different casting calls and I would get called to come in for auditions. And so I booked a few small roles, you know, nothing major, [except for] It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I did the movie The Nail, Mighty Max, things that were all local and filming here.
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Romano: We’ve known those guys for years, since season one. When they put out season one, they came to us and they said, “Hey, we have this show.” We looked at it and we were like, “Wow, it’s really funny.” And Philadelphia’s in the title, so of course we’ll interview you guys. So we’ve been friends with them since day one. I think I was in a few seasons and I did go to the audition. I did have to audition for it. But my guess is they probably saw it was me and they’re like, “Oh yeah, let’s put her in.”
And it was cool. It was great. I mean, it’s a real-deal production. It’s a real-deal show. It’s a real-deal set, everybody’s there and ready to work. But it’s great, it’s funny, they laugh. I saw some of the outtakes. We hung out on the set even after my 10 seconds of walking down the street. And I think it was calling Charlie a pedophile. I think that was my line. No, it was Dennis, I think. And so I walked down the street and I call him a pedophile. It was really nice see how it works and see how well they work together. Danny DeVito was on the set. He was great. Him and Kaitlin [Olson] have a great rapport; they all do. But yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Romano: In 2019, I teamed up with a local jeweler. She’s out in Bucks County. She’s amazing and I was like, “This is something that maybe I want to do. Can you give me some advice?”
And she said, “Why don’t we do a collaboration? I’ll make the jewelry and we’ll put your name on it. And so that’s what we did, and it did so well that she obviously had her business to worry about and so she kind of pushed me to do this on my own because she said, “You’re doing well, so you might as well try it out.”
So I did. I ended up taking some classes. She taught me a lot and I just did it on my own, and it’s still going now. You can find it in a bunch of local boutiques, mostly in Pennsylvania. I have some down the shore, a couple in New Jersey. But yeah, it’s just a jewelry collection, [it’s] sort of something that I do on the side. It’s kind of relaxing for me. It can be a lot of work during busy times, during the holiday because I am assembling all of the jewelry myself, but I sit in a room by myself and I have the radio on and I have my lights set up at my table and I just put the jewelry together. And then [when] I see it all finished, it’s pretty rewarding.”
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Romano: Yeah, it is. That’s sort of my way to relax. I don’t relax much.
After the show, when I get up from my seat in the studio, I don’t usually sit down because if I do, I’ll fall asleep, because we get up at 4:15 a.m. in the morning. So I don’t usually sit. I really don’t. I go all day long, and so if I’m sitting, if I’m doing the jewelry, obviously that’s keeping me awake. So it is a little bit relaxing for me.
Romano: I always tell them the same thing because I really think that it’s important once you have the opportunity in your school to go do an internship. You should, and you should do multiple of them. It was something that I wished I had done more. I did an internship at the end when I was a senior, and now we have interns. Whenever you can start an internship, I would recommend doing it and doing multiple internships. If you can, go to different places or, even if you’re at, say the same station, you can do an internship in different departments just so you see how it all works. And it’s really, it’s not just for radio, it’s for TV and it’s for any profession. If you can get in there, do an internship, and do more than one.
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