Virginia Currents radio is a locally produced program which benefits directly from listener contributions. Every Thursday, this weekly segment brings listeners unique stories about the people, places, and personalities in Virginia.
While we learn a lot about the community through Virginia Currents, we thought it would be fun to turn the table and get to know the woman behind the stories. We asked the producer Catherine Komp to share a little about herself.
You can grab a coffee with Catherine and get to know her more on Wednesday, April 27 from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at Urban Farmhouse in Shockoe Slip at one of WCVE’s “Mug Stops.”
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a reporter?
Catherine Komp: When I was 19, I heard a story on NPR about this man in Idaho known as Dugout Dick. He had been squatting on a mountain side for decades, hand building these caves he'd rent out for $1-2 a night. So, I did what any journalist-to-be might do - got in a car and drove west. This was long before cell phones and googling, all I knew was he was somewhere south of Salmon, along the river. A local gas station provided directions and we pulled in after dark, after Dugout had gone to bed. The person who approached us in the pitch black night was pretty intimidating. But, we made it through the night and met the man behind this place, Richard Zimmerman, the next day. He was a genius, shy but so friendly and kind and rightly proud of his caves. He invited us into his personal cave to show his preserved food and a tattered article about him in National Geographic. He played us music on his guitar and showed us how he used recycled materials, like old windshields, when making the caves. At the time, I didn't know I wanted to be a journalist, but a seed had been planted.
Q: What Virginia Currents radio story still sticks with you?
CK: There's a lot of them really. And because I often listen to my recordings over and over, I really get to know people's voices so things they've said to me often come back, sharp and clear. One of those voices is Eileen Rowe, an extraordinary woman who passed away last year. She and her daughter Blythe were featured in a story we did on cancer and caregivers. Eileen was a teacher and loved books. I often hear her reading this quote from the novel Cutting for Stone: “Another day in paradise’ was his inevitable pronouncement when he settled his head on his pillow. Now I understand what that meant: the uneventful day was a precious gift.”
Q: What do you do for fun?
CK: Garden. My father was an avid gardener, both wildflowers and vegetables. He made sure all the kids had their own tiny plots in our small backyard. After all this time, I think I'm finally getting the hang of it and striving to be able to pick something from the yard all year round. And this winter, I was still harvesting cilantro, so progress!
Q: Since you like to garden, do you have a spirit plant?
CK: I'm not sure what this is, but maybe kale? It's so good for you, hearty, and there's this magical thing that happens when you wash it. The water converges into big drops that glisten and magnify the veins in the leaves. It's pretty mesmerizing.
Q: Is there a funky fact about you that you don't mind sharing?
CK: I'm not sure if this qualifies as a funky fact, but after seeing slackliners at Richmond's Riverrock last year, I discovered a new goal. (Haven't tried it yet)
Q: What do you love about public broadcasting?
CK: I love that public broadcasting devotes substantial time to in-depth journalism, especially seeing all of the cuts that have happened at newspapers. And I love the investment in local coverage and local storytelling, which is so essential to solving problems, connecting people and supporting a thriving community.
Q: Last question, how do you take your coffee?
CK: First cup has a tiny bit of sugar and whole milk. Second is black.
Meet the people behind the voices of 88.9 WCVE at one of our Mug Stops.
Listen to Virginia Currents Radio stories: ideastations.org/news/virginia-currents