It's a busy day in the studio for Kathy Hart. Actor Tim Robbins
calls in for a chat, musician James Blunt walks into the studio for
a performance that steals her breath away and work pals Eric and
Melissa are trying to find her a new best friend.
But she also has other things on her mind. Hart, famous in
Chicagoland for her no-holds-barred on-air banter weekday mornings
on 101.9 The Mix for the past 10 years, is thinking about life and
Her kids, 8-year-old Xander and 5-year-old Annika, are home
getting ready for school, probably listening. So far, she hasn't
said anything this morning she'll have to explain later. Sure she
laughs now, but it wasn't so funny when, after singing Madonna's
"Like a Virgin" at the station's Christmas party, she had to go
home and explain "what a virgin was and why mommy was like a
The man of her life, Bert, doesn't listen to the show. Sometimes
things get back to him, with a few untrue twists. "So a lot of
times I have to explain myself and tell him the real story," Hart
says with a smirk, "but most times he just shrugs it off. He gets
He has to.
By the time he met Hart, a self-admitted scrapper, she'd already
learned tough lessons about staying true to herself as others
sought to change her.
The pair met in a karate class in late 1995. As Hart begins the
love story, she starts to laugh and says she has to be careful in
its retelling "because it tends to be a little obnoxious."
"We were actually in the mount position in karate class," she
says with a huge laugh. Bert was the teacher, Hart the student
learning the proper technique for dismount. "When he was going
through all these instructions on what to do, I wasn't listening.
All of a sudden it's wow, he's sitting on top of me ... I think I
kind of like him."
Bert was balding, a little pudgy. "He didn't look like my
perfect man, but once I got to know him I realized he was all about
my perfect man."
Kids came pretty quickly. They figured on three, but got caught
up in the first two, her skyrocketing career and then Bert, a
stay-at-home dad to Hart's crazy hours, bought a karate school.
"Life got a little crazy," she says.
Hart's job has her up at 3:30 a.m. She checks on the kids to
make sure they are still covered and little Annika usually gets up
too, sitting on her yellow ducky stool in the bathroom watching mom
get ready, waiting to pick out her jewelry for the day. (Hart
confides she's learned to have some backup jewelry in the car, just
At work by 4:45 a.m. and on air at 5:30 a.m. for more than
375,000 listeners, she yaks it up with Eric Ferguson, Melissa
McGurren, with a little Barry Keefe thrown in, for the next four
and a half hours. With meetings, movie screenings and other
production responsibilities, she doesn't make it home before Bert
leaves for the karate school. And he won't be home until well past
"Kathy turned into Mommy Dearest a little bit at night. It got
to be like 7 p.m. and I have to watch The Bachelor," Hart says with
a little bit of drama. "[I was] making dinner, picking out clothes,
reading them a story, taking care of the dogs. … For the benefit of
the kids, mostly to have Happy Kathy around, we finally broke down
and got some help."
She and Bert mostly see each other just on weekends-and they've
decided that's OK.
When they realized life wasn't about them anymore, she says they
had a serious talk. " 'Are you comfortable with this?' " she
remembers asking him. " 'The kids pretty much need us right now,
you just opened a business, I have a pretty demanding job. Are we
OK with not being number one in each other's lives right now?' It
took so much pressure off of us, individually and as a couple
dealing with day-to-day challenges of a marriage."
Waiting for a baby
The mom in Hart, 42, wants more.
With room in her heart for another child, she began thinking
about adoption. But would Bert go for it? As soon as she brought up
the idea, she says, he admitted he'd always wanted to adopt too,
"which made him even more my perfect man."
They decided to adopt an African-American baby after seeing so
many children in Chicago needing loving families. Working through
The Cradle, they hope their dream baby finds them soon.
Still, they have taken their time with the process. "I truly
believe it's for that baby that was meant to be with us," she
Annika wants a girl. Xander wants a boy. Hart just wants another
someone to love.
"I have one friend who thinks I'm the perfect mom. Oh good lord
no," she says. "I live through the guilt of not being at ice cream
social night because I'm with Sister Hazel at After 5 Live and
there are times where I can't be there as a mom and of course, have
guilt. There are times I make the wrong decision and live with the
guilt of that.
"We all have challenges in our day-to-day life to keep us from
being a perfect parent. In my opinion, it's impossible. As long as
your kids are happy, that to me is being a perfect parent."
Kathy Hart on …
"I immediately think about how the marriage I'm in right now is the
best. While I think there are things that could make it better,
there are certainly things that could make it worse and
not successful. I'm blessed with the best husband ever.
I got so lucky."
The first time around, though, she admits she wasn't so lucky.
"Marriage, it meant something entirely different to me when I was
younger and after I filed one off, then I realized how finding that
right person means everything."
"It's the best thing that ever happened to me … It's a love so
amazing and powerful and unconditional. I love it."
"What?" with a huge laugh. "That would be my answer. If I had to do
it in one word, it would be 'quickie.' "
Being in the spotlight
"It's fun. My mom always said I was the one in the family that
needed the attention and she was right."
"Lucky, if I had to say it in one word. Taking full advantage of
it, without a doubt."
Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy is the editor of Chicago
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