In 1991, Tracy Romine had a rooftop revelation that propelled him into a fast-paced and successful radio career. Over the ensuing 20 years, Romine (’91) worked in a variety of roles at leading stations across California, where he interviewed everyone from movie stars to U.S. presidents to Billy Graham. In 2003 he left his radio career, moved to Texas and became the worldwide consumer support product manager at McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated security technology company.
He designs the type of support McAfee offers and makes sure customers are satisfied with their security software. Romine lives in McKinney, Texas, with his wife, Martha, and their three children, Sam, 15, Jonah, 12, and Sadie, 7. He recently shared his story with Biola Magazine.
Biola was a personal and professional launch pad for me; some of the greatest years of my life.
The communications department at Biola, and most notably my journalism classes, led by guest-professor Rich Buhler and others, spawned my interest in the field of news journalism.
After doing a few stints as a news guy on the Biola radio station, I was both horrified and irresistibly intrigued. It was a challenge that I knew I wanted to conquer.
Still not completely clear on what I wanted to do after college, I sought employment in a job that I knew I didn’t want to do forever: construction (roofing). While working on roofs throughout Orange County, Calif., I began listening to news talk radio. One day it struck me that I would like to pursue a career in radio journalism. I climbed off a roof in 105-degree heat, and a week later began an internship at KFI-AM in Los Angeles.
My career path started with my unpaid KFI internship, which eventually became a paid job, as a board operator for several talk shows at KFI, including Laura Schlessinger, Bill Handel and others. From here, I slowly climbed the professional ladder, working as a radio news reporter and talk show host throughout California. I began covering news in the Napa Valley, at a tiny radio station — working split shifts, opening the station every morning and closing it at night.
This led to a significant stepping stone, working at the state capital’s most popular station, KFBK-AM, Sacramento, where I covered the state legislature, daily. At this time I also began simultaneous employment with Associated Press, for whom I filed news stories daily for about eight years. From KFBK, I jumped to the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, KCBS-AM 740, covering all kinds of stories — including the trial of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski in Sacramento.
The dot-com boom reawakened an interest in technology, and I jumped to a syndicated radio job at CNET Radio, reviewing products, interviewing business leaders and covering all aspects of technology in a daily three-hour news/talk program.
During my time in radio I interviewed countless politicians, including three U.S. presidents (Bush, Clinton and Bush), and more movie stars, musicians, activists and heads of industry than I can remember.
One of my personal highlights was an interview with Billy Graham before a crusade appearance in Sacramento. Mr. Graham’s humanity really came through when I asked him if he has had any regrets. He said, “One of my only regrets is that I wish I had spent more time with my children. I know it was hard on the family with me being gone so often.”
As the Romine clan began to grow, I realized that a career with more regular hours and higher pay was needed. A fellow Biola alum (Michael Connolly, ’84) was a vice president of tech support at McAfee at the time, and offered me a position that was unlike anything I’d been doing in radio.
I left CNET Radio in 2003, and have been at McAfee ever since.
I am a creative, artistic person by nature. I most enjoy the creative process of designing things from the ground up. In the case of McAfee, that would be support portfolios and premium technical services, like virus removal service. Everything starts with a blank sheet of paper. It’s gratifying to see it become a real product, helping customers while building our business.
My most exciting project these days is the Nov. 7, 2011, launch of “McAfee TechMaster.” Think Geek Squad, minus the geek. Replace the geek with a Samurai warrior who knows how to fix anything, on any device. It’s awesome.