Katja Burkard in an interview over 30 years on RTL
Katja Burkard over 30 years at RTL
“I used to think: TV is obsession with youth without end”
Katja Burkard already had a contract with a magazine – and then decided on TV. On the occasion of her 30th anniversary of service at RTL, the moderator tells how it came about – and why she made her peace with the language defect.
Ms. Burkard, on April 1st you will be celebrating your 30th anniversary at RTL. You initially worked behind the scenes as an editor. How did you come to be in front of the camera?
I did an internship at RTL in 1991. On my first day of internship, Hape Kerkeling fooled the whole world as Queen Beatrix. And I had to spontaneously go to them camera. Apparently they saw potential in me and advised me to do a two-year apprenticeship at the production company Teuto Tele. After that I could come back to Cologne.
Did that fit into your career plans?
No, at that point I had actually already signed a preliminary contract as head of department in the medical section of the women’s magazine “Freundin” in Hamburg. With a great place and a lot of money. I had to go to Bielefeld for the training at Teuto Tele, only got half the money and was not the boss, but the apprentice. I did it anyway and learned the craft from scratch.
You really turned down the secure, better paid job in Hamburg in favor of an uncertain future at RTL?
TV was something special back then. I didn’t have to think for a second. And I soon had to prove myself. In October 1991 I was on weekend duty when the Höxter police murdered. That was when I had my first live broadcast on the RTL news. After that I was allowed to be in front of the camera more often. They then kept their word at RTL: I was brought to Cologne in 1993 and was initially included in the reporter pool.
Was it your big dream to get into television?
The dream was so big for me back then that I didn’t even dream it. There was no plan. I just applied and it worked. I’ve never had a big plan in my life. Things just went that way.
You rose quickly in front of the camera and got more and more broadcasts. What do you think is the reason for your popularity?
As we both know, I have it speech impediment. And, of course, looks play a role. I’ve been told I’m telegenic. I was also resilient.
Ever had doubts that your mild speech impediment could be a problem?
In any case. I was taking speaking classes at the time. But I’ve had several sudden hearing falls in my life and thus a weakness in the high-frequency range. I myself do not hear my S error at all. So I couldn’t work on it at all. Luckily, my bosses stood behind me and said: That’s the way it is.
At first there was mockery. Did that hurt you?
Naturally. That hit me then. But on the other hand it also contributed a lot to my notoriety. I’ve been fine with it for about ten years. Since then nobody has spoken to me about it. Now I say: It belongs to me.
They are also active off camera. Among other things, you are strongly committed to health education, for example with your book “Menopause” and the podcast “Whoever breathes in must also breathe out”. Where does the interest come from?
After graduating, I volunteered for the magazine “Goldene Gesundheit”. I was dating a doctor at the time and did a lot of reporting from the operating room. My secret hobby is actually medicine. If I had more time, I would definitely be a biohacker.
Do you get a lot of feedback on your commitment to making the topic of menopause public?
I get emails or questions about it every day. Also from the private environment. I wanted to give an impetus with the book. So that we can finally talk about menopause and no longer keep it silent. Around 14 million women in Germany have the topic right now. But for decades in Germany we acted as if it didn’t even exist. I didn’t know anything about it myself either. It’s high time we talked about it openly.
You recently attended an event on HPV vaccination with your eldest daughter Marie-Therese. Will the next woman in your family be in front of the camera soon?
My daughter is studying Economy, Politics and International Law in Madrid. Journalism appeals to her, which isn’t entirely unreasonable when it comes to her parents. But no decision has been made yet.
You have now been working for RTL for 30 years. Will we still see you on TV in 30 years?
I used to think: TV is obsession with youth without end, when I’m 40 they’ll throw me out. But RTL signals us longtime moderators: We want you. It’s still great fun for me. There hasn’t been a morning that I didn’t enjoy going to RTL.