On Sept. 11, 2001, Kasie Hunt was just starting her junior year at Conestoga High School. “We were on the cusp of adulthood, and everything changed,” the NBC Capitol Hill correspondent said of herself and her classmates, as she recalled the beginning of a journey that led her to study international relations in college, deepened her interest in politics, and eventually took her to Capitol Hill, where she reports for NBC News.
Starting Monday, Hunt trades her Sunday night MSNBC show for a weekday gig anchoring Way Too Early with Kasie DC, a 5 a.m. lead-in to MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
We spoke with Hunt, who grew up in Wayne, about setting an alarm, why covering the Hill is better than covering the White House, and how she came to be known as Kasie DC. This interview has been edited and condensed.
So, are you a morning person? I ask because there’s a screenshot of you on Wikipedia from “Morning Joe” in which your expression suggests that someone just offered you the chance to be on live TV at 5 a.m. every morning.
Well, I didn’t pick the photo on my Wikipedia page. I’m sure I could figure out what I was responding to on Morning Joe, but I am, I would say, a learned morning person. I started doing morning TV with Joe [Scarborough] and Mika [Brzezinski] when I first came to NBC News and found out I loved it. So I’ve been getting up early with them for a while now.
And this is the earliest, and the most frequently, I will be waking up early in my career, but I’m excited about it. I always find that when I do get up really early, I have a better day. And I also have a 1-year-old. So, you know, our lives have shifted earlier, regardless of any job change for me.
When will your alarm go off?
I’m going to start setting it for 3 a.m. at the beginning, and then if I can get away with creeping closer to 4 a.m., I might try it. Obviously in times of COVID, we’re all figuring out new ways to do it all. I’m going to start out broadcasting from home and doing all the hair and makeup myself, figuring out that whole routine.
Will you still be reporting on Capitol Hill?
Several of my colleagues have pioneered this. Andrea Mitchell has been doing her show every day on MSNBC for many years, and also serving as our chief foreign affairs correspondent. Hallie Jackson covers the White House and also anchors on MSNBC. The schedule is a little bit of a challenge, and we’re going to have to work that out.
I think it’s really important to make sure I’m still covering the beat and that the lawmakers that I’ve talked to and work with every day are seeing me in hallways.
A lot of people think White House correspondent is the more glamorous job but isn’t covering the Hill better?
I think covering Capitol Hill is the best beat in Washington. I might be biased because I’ve been doing it on and off for 10 years, alternating back and forth between Congress and campaigns. I’ve done a little bit of work at the White House.
But I just love that you work every day in a building that’s got 535 sources just wandering around, who all have various degrees of interest in talking to you. You have a lot more freedom than you do in the White House press briefing room.
Before this, you had a Sunday show called “Kasie DC.” Is this your nickname? Who came up with it?
When we started the show, there was a lot of brainstorming [about the title] and a weekend producer put it on a list that was e-mailed around. At first I thought, “Oh my God, I could never say that.” But I talked to Mika and Joe about it. I forwarded them the whole list and they called right away and they said, “You absolutely have to call it this. It’s a great name. It’s sticky. It’s a brand people will remember.” And they were totally right.
Folks that I work with on the Hill who watch a lot of MSNBC, I feel like they’ve forgotten what my actual last name is.
You interned at NBC News during college and worked for Politico and the Associated Press before returning. Was TV news always the goal or was it news in general?
My goal was always to be a reporter first. I’ve written for newspapers, magazines, news wires, obviously television. I’ve done live cable, I’ve done network TV, I worked for a fax newsletter, on the Hill. I studied international relations at GW [George Washington University] and I considered trying to work in national security, partly for this reason. I find the intelligence community interesting.
The TV thing happened a little bit out of thin air. I had an executive at NBC notice one of the hits [an MSNBC appearance] that I did one day when I was a reporter for the AP covering [Mitt] Romney’s presidential campaign and basically say, “Hey, have you ever thought about being a TV correspondent?”
He took a leap. I started as an off-air reporter and producer in 2013 and worked my way up to doing more on-air stuff. I’m so lucky to have so many amazing colleagues at NBC to learn from. Many came up through local news, [but being on air] was something I really had to learn from scratch. It’s not as easy as they make it look.