Jeff Katz left Boston, the 10th-largest U.S. radio market. Photo by Jay Paul;
If radio station WRVA was a house, Jeff Katz would be downsizing. After two decades of hosting his own show in larger media markets, Katz brought his right-of-center schtick to Richmond in December — making him the station's fourth afternoon-drive host in six years.
A radio nomad, 48-year-old Katz has hosted a talk show on stations in Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Miami and San Francisco. Prior to coming to Richmond, Katz's show aired on Boston Herald Radio, an online-streaming venture.
So why did he leave Boston, the 10th-largest radio market, for our fair city, ranked No.55 by Nielsen? Katz says he and his wife, Heidi, made a lifestyle choice, praising Richmond as "an intimate city with a real sense of community. No disrespect to the larger markets where I worked, but Richmond just feels like home." The couple has three school-age children: Harry, 12, Julia, 10, and 9-yearold Joe. "We wanted our kids to have a sense of stability and community," Katz adds.
The Jeff Katz Show debuted Dec. 2 and airs Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The format mostly tackles topical issues that affect Richmond, "but we'll take on national stories when appropriate." Katz holds conservative positions on most issues, but he's no troglodyte. His libertarian leanings emerge in his views on legalizing marijuana and gay marriage: "I don't lose any sleep over those issues." He sends verbal barbs across the political spectrum, but not without a sense of humor.
He made his on-air debut at WFPG, a small station in Atlantic City — but only after failing spectacularly as an airtime salesman. "There was an opening for the overnight shift, and I asked the program director to give me a shot. He took one look at my sales record and decided he could spare me."
WRVA Program Director Jimmy Barrett hopes Katz will bring much-needed steadiness to the plum time slot, which has been something of a merry-go-round of late. Katz's predecessor, Leland Conway, spent less than two years at WRVA before returning to his native Kentucky to work for WHAS-AM. Preceding Conway was Doc Thompson, who took over for Mac Watson in 2007. "For a lot of hosts, Richmond is a steppingstone to a job in a bigger market," Barrett says. "With Jeff, we took a different approach. We wanted someone who's worked in a big market and already gotten that bug out of their system." Katz should also appeal to WRVA's target listener: working suburbanites aged 25 to 54, married with children. "That's Jeff," Barrett says.