The interviewer becomes the subject in this week’s Cold Call, as Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Kate Lewis finally turned the tables on Katie Peek, Cold Call Interviewer Emeritus.
KL: Lets start with your family. I’m told that you come from a formidable republican powerhouse. What do your parents as siblings do? Does the apple fall far from the tree?
KP: Replace formidable with fevered and you’re probably closer to the mark, but it is true that my mom, who let the record reflect is unbelievable in every way, did 20 years on Wall Street before embarking on a second career as a political journalist. The most interesting piece of that has been the vicarious look at how online journalism works; the day she discovered that less provocative headlines (“Obama’s Judgment Questionable On Healthcare Timing”) typically did worse than those that were a little closer to the line (“Obama: OFF HIS MEDS?!?!?!”) was kind of a turning point. Otherwise my older brother’s worked for a couple of Republican senators and my little sister was like head of Brearley Young Republicans (club membership: one) or something so yah, the fact that I voted for Obama definitely made politics a no-fly zone at Casa Peek for a while.
KL: You’ve been a consistent contributor to the Harbus during your two years here, through your Hapless Harvardite column and of course the illustrious Cold Call column. Tell me about your love and knack for writing. When did it start?
KP: Like a lot of childhood passions it was probably initially born of the fact that my family dramatically over-indexes writing as an Critical Life Skill- my maternal grandfather was a writer for the New Yorker so we grew up steeped in the notion that to be Called as a writer is a lot like being Called as the pope, but just like marginally a little better. That (and the fact that it was the only thing I was better at than my big brother) led to a lot of unbearable treacle in my high school lit mag, a bunch of magazine work during high school and college, the world’s most poorly-disguised roman à clef as my creative thesis at Princeton and then a copywriting gig after school. I
KL: And going forward?
KP: I’m not looking at any strictly-creative roles, so I think probs I’ll stick to my preferred media of all-caps emails and emoji. I hear Faulkner was a huge texter too!
KL: What was your favorite cold call interview? Have you gotten any dates from n the exercise?
KP: Bob and Tom were the obvious win here—candid, cheekbones for days, and willing to sledge the hell out of each other in the name of Harbus comedy. Despite however their crack efforts to recruit only the brightest stars of the RC class for the Harbus spotlight, this year’s Cold Calls remained (weirdly!) immune to my charms, which seemed a lot less weird once I went back to transcribe the interviews. Having to actually listen to my ham-fisted flirting with unsuspecting interviewees, and their complete lack of response to the same, gave new meaning to the term mortified. More than once I had to take my earphones out and go walk around the block to regain my composure. Sorry gang!! I’ll be less awkward next time.
KL: Do you have plans for next year? What would be your ideal job?
KP: I’m still negotiating next year’s jam, but looking at a couple of roles in media with various degrees of content creation and oversight. The dream job is probably still to be the next Tina Brown, but considering the way the industry’s going (namely, so badly that Tina herself could be like two more rounds of layoffs away from freelance copywriting for Uniqlo catalogs) something a little more strategic is I think a safer, and in some ways more educational bet.
KL: Print media: love it or leave it?
KP: LOVE it. My greatest liability in the aforementioned hypothetical strategic role will definitely be my fervent love of print media and hard copies in general, and resultant sneaking suspicion that this whole internet/online media thing is pretty much a fad. Related concern: I may be terrible at strategy.
KL: And finally, your favorite periodical?
KP: HARBUS FTW!!
KL: Good answer.