When Tom Kraeutler ’82 talks, millions of do-it-yourselfers listen. That’s because he is the creator and co-host of “The Money Pit,” a home repair show that airs on 200 radio stations nationwide, as well as on XM satellite radio.
Tom graduated with a BS in industrial arts education and worked briefly as a teacher before trading the classroom for construction sites. The former Teacher of the Year, however, missed imparting wisdom and a friend suggested he look into the home inspection business. “Home inspectors evaluate homes and protect the buyers from getting into a situation where the home has major problems,” he noted, “so the inspection process is an educational one for the prospective buyer.”
It was the perfect fit for Tom—a profession blending his love of teaching with his vast knowledge of construction.
Tom’s efforts to promote his home inspection business steered him into the world of mass media. He began writing how-to columns for newspapers. Soon after, a fellow TCNJ alum, Sheetal (Desai) Werneke ’93, gave him his break in TV. She scheduled him for an interview on a local station. “We ended up doing segments together at News 12, MSNBC, and even for the Today show. Long story short, she now works for my company and is the executive producer of our program, ” Tom said.
As for “The Money Pit,” Tom calls it his own “major ‘do-it-yourself’ project.” The show started modestly 10 years ago as a local radio program called “HomeChek.” Since then, the name has changed, the show has become syndicated, and now reaches over 4 million listeners. Tom and his co-host, Leslie Segrete, are a hit with listeners, and were named among “America’s 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts” by Talkers magazine.
Tom is also the home improvement editor for AOL online and regularly appears as a “how-to guru” on CNN, MSNBC, The History Channel, HGTV, and the DIY Network. In addition, he’s working on a book that is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2008. Tom lives with his wife, Susan, and three children —Thomas, Sara, and Trevor—in central New Jersey.
Tom still looks back fondly on his college days, especially his association with Phi Alpha Delta, the industrial arts/engineering fraternity. “Dr. Weber was our frat adviser, and we spent many fun weekends working with him repairing and rebuilding the camp TSC owned in North Jersey (Camp Mohican). Dr. John Hutchinson, my academic adviser, once told me that you never have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life —you only have to decide what you want to do next. I’ve been following that excellent advice ever since.”
Tom says his curriculum perfectly prepared him for the unusual job he holds today. “I was trained as an industrial arts teacher and, in many ways, I still am. Except that I deliver my advice to a very big classroom over the radio each week.”