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Good Talk: Larry Richert, NA ’76

Meet the Distinguished Alum who is now the Voice of Pittsburgh

Local+radio+celebrity+Larry+Richert+holds+many+distinctions%2C+among+them+the+fact+that+he+joined+NATV+the+year+the+studio+was+created+back+in+1976.
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Good Talk: Larry Richert, NA ’76

Local radio celebrity Larry Richert holds many distinctions, among them the fact that he joined NATV the year the studio was created back in 1976.

Local radio celebrity Larry Richert holds many distinctions, among them the fact that he joined NATV the year the studio was created back in 1976.

photo by Audra Sapp

Local radio celebrity Larry Richert holds many distinctions, among them the fact that he joined NATV the year the studio was created back in 1976.

photo by Audra Sapp

photo by Audra Sapp

Local radio celebrity Larry Richert holds many distinctions, among them the fact that he joined NATV the year the studio was created back in 1976.

Jonathan Ross, Reporter

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First of all, congratulations on your distinguished alumnus award.

Thanks.  You know, I was pretty surprised after all these years, but I feel humbled, looking at the bios of all the other nominees

Yeah, actually I’m glad, given all of the other STEM nominees, that the flipside got some attention. At a place like NA, there’s a lot of pressure to go into science and math.

I agree, I appreciate that, and I think it’s important because there’s a role for everyone. We can’t all do the same thing. We don’t all share the same talents. It’s really important to find what you feel passionate about. For me, it was really different; I don’t think I would be capable of being a surgeon or a lawyer, but I was passionate about doing radio and television and, from that, I became a connection to the community. I started going to these charity events and it started out slow, but next thing you know, I’m doing 100 charity events a year. And that all started with being the weather guy on TV. Over time, you meet a lot of impassioned people who are doing the right things, and when you are with those people you think, “Wow, these are really great people,” and you want to help them more. Over the years, I ended up doing a lot of community service that way, through relationships.

Actually, I’m glad you mentioned finding your spot in the workplace. I wrote an article earlier this year about the constant pressure on students to take AP classes. I was wondering what your take on balancing your interests and challenging classes.

That’s a great question, because, again, the mold doesn’t fit everybody — and I know the demand to be that perfect student. But, in reality, I was a B student. Even if I had applied myself more in other areas, I still don’t know if I would have been a 4.0 student. There’s a place for everybody, so I wasn’t discouraged. I didn’t realize until after I left that I should have done more, but too late for that. I was fortunate to find something that I was interested in and I put the time in. When other people were doing other things, I was on the radio. I didn’t join a frat or do other activities because my passion was my activity. Besides, no one ever really asked me for my grades after a certain point. There’s a big world out there with employers looking for quality people who are honest and hardworking. That’s where success is.

It’s funny you say that; the journalism class was just in DC, where they met with all kinds of journalists from The Washington Post, CNN, etc. But the commonality among them was their advice of “don’t be a jerk” and that they didn’t really have a clear path in life when they were younger. I think a lot of my classmates, including myself, don’t really have a path, either. Did you find in your trip through Clarion that everything fell into place?

Even when I went there, I didn’t think I would make a living out of communications. Radio was just really fun for me, and it had my interest. Again, I was a 3.0 student in college — I’m a B kind of guy. Still, I think it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t force deciding exactly what it is if it doesn’t feel right.

So, I know you’re widely regarded as an ambassador for Pittsburgh. You won the Vector’s award for your work here. I was wondering, if you had to pitch the city of Pittsburgh to a high school kid who wants nothing more than to leave, what would you say?

Well, Pittsburgh is growing. It’s becoming more attractive for younger people because there are more opportunities in their fields. There’s a huge expansion of medicine and technology. It’s friendly to the younger crowd. We have hipster places like Lawrenceville — it’s really not just a group of “granddad’s houses.” But I would also suggest that young people always travel. Travel takes you wonderful places. Pittsburgh is great for family and settling down, but there are other places, too.

So I imagine you’ve met a lot of people on your travels during your career.

Yes, I met Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump — at WWE before he was running for president. It’s cool because you realize that they’re just people, too.

I have to ask: does your perception of someone you’re interviewing ever change based on your personal opinion of them?

Yes, of course. Meeting someone like Barack Obama can be very intimidating. Bill Clinton was very intimidating too, because you don’t want to say anything stupid or ask any stupid questions. You want to make sure you’re prepared; a little preparation goes a long way.

Well, thank you for talking to me today; it was a pleasure to sit down and talk to someone who’s such a legendary character in Pittsburgh.

I appreciate having a chance to sit down and talk to you and to the class. You never know what affect it can have on someone’s life. It’s a great time of your lives with a lot of opportunity, but there’s a lot of uncertainty, too.

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Good Talk: Larry Richert, NA ’76