Teaching a class of 4,000,000+
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 Kraeutler ′82
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.”
Tony Marchetti ’96, ’02
Alan Meinster ’86, owner/operator of Marsilio’s restaurant in Trenton, and wife Denise Didonato ’86 now chew the fat with Mercer County’s top businesses. That’s because their restaurant, a local landmark and hotspot for the political crowd, has been enshrined in the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame.
Alan Meinster ′86
Marsilio’s is the first restaurant to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, according to Meinster. The restaurant has also received top reviews from The New York Times, The Times of Trenton, the Star-Ledger, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Zagat. Author Janet Evanovich even mentions Marsilio’s in her series of books set in the Trenton area.
What does it take to get such recognition? “Don’t pick your head up,” said Meinster, who has been the owner of Marsilio’s since October 15, 1986, just after his graduation. “Keep working hard, and eventually someone will come and tap you on the shoulder.”
Meinster decided to return to his roots after college—working in the restaurant business. While growing up in Freehold, and during his time at the College, Meinster worked for several restaurants and loved the experience. Fortunately, Meinster ’s father-in-law, a real estate broker, was able to help Meinster get his foot into the restaurant business and bought Marsilio ’s, which was established in 1951. Meinster is now chef/owner of the restaurant, and, along with Denise, hosts alumni events at Marsilio’s while both serve as alumni class agents.
“It’s enjoyable and fulfilling to associate and participate with an institution that heightens your career, ” said Meinster. “It’s important to always respect the opportunities that are afforded us.”
Melanie Weiss ’07
After the spring magazine had gone to press, we learned that Marsilio's restaurant is scheduled to close in fall 2007, although Meinster plans to run a catering business from the site. For more information, see the story that ran in The Times of Trenton.