There are metal detectors at every door. Broadcast alerts regarding suspicious packages and evacuations for incoming aircraft are common. The maze of underground passageways that connect the building to Capitol Hill is difficult to navigate. And outside it's worse: Winter in Washington D.C. is about as much fun as black ice mountain roads.
But for Antrim, her journey over the past few months has included frequent stops at the office building that houses the staffs of many U.S. Senators.
It's a long road from Pleasanton to the nation's capital and that trip has taken Antrim on the ride of her life. Two years ago, Antrim and her husband, Jeff, were active socially, hosting many charitable events at their home in Ruby Hill. Antrim was promoting her first book, a fictional political thriller, "Capital Offense," and was launching a monthly political column for the San Francisco Examiner.
About a year ago, Antrim's adventure took a hard turn right, politically speaking. Her column in the Examiner offered its readers a rare conservative voice on national political events and caught the attention of the weekday morning talk show team of Melanie Morgan and Lee Rodgers, who broadcast on KSFO, 560 on the AM dial.
Morgan and Antrim struck up an e-mail friendship and Morgan was impressed with Antrim's breadth of knowledge on national political issues. After several weeks of correspondence, Morgan invited Antrim to provide commentary on the morning program.
That first appearance went well and led to another. The audience liked Antrim's style and her voice was well suited for radio. Eventually, she landed a regular guest spot during the popular drive-time radio morning program and embarked on a new career as a political pundit.
"The thing about Kathleen is she is fabulous at everything she does," said Morgan of their frequent guest. "She has tremendous impact and it's like she's been doing radio forever."
Her career as a political pundit is still gaining speed. In addition to KSFO and the Examiner, Antrim is balancing weekly appearances on "Battle Lines with Allen Nathan," contributing news stories for News Max magazine and attending briefings as a member of the media with high-ranking government officials on topics as diverse as the War on Terror and Illegal Immigration.
In hindsight it all makes sense, but Antrim admits her path to this point has been full of hidden curves and exciting twists. For Antrim, a political news junkie since high school, her current career is the realization of a dream that started in college. While pursuing a communications degree from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, she worked for a Political Science professor and that experience sparked an interest in politics.
"My interest has always been at the national and international level," said Antrim of her passion for politics.
However, she shifted her career into the slow lane while her family's needs and husband's business dominated her time. During those years, she religiously followed the news in several newspapers, periodicals and television news stations. And if she wasn't reading or watching television news, she was listening to radio talk shows.
All this hard work is paying off for Pleasanton's hometown pundit and today it's paving the road to her success nationally.
According to Morgan, part of Antrim's appeal is that she is knowledgeable about a breadth of political topics.
"You just can't stump her," said Morgan.
Her latest project may send her career veering in yet another direction. She is currently working on a biography of U.S. Senator George Allen, R-Virginia, one of the names topping the list of potential candidates for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008.
As with her political pundancy, her career as a biographer is the result of an unexpected detour. Immediately after the last election, people began asking Antrim to speculate on the candidates for 2008. With no heir apparent in either party, Antrim recognized this as a rare point in history and began asking her political contacts for their thoughts on potential candidates.
One name kept coming up in political circles: George Allen of Virginia. Antrim was intrigued and wanted to learn more. She started questioning her sources and reading up on Senator Allen, eventually landing an interview with the Virginian for a news story.
"Bottom line--I was curious," said Antrim of her initial interest in Allen. "The more I learned, the more interested I became. Like any other story, I pursued it to get answers. When I get intrigued about a story, I'm like a dog with a bone. I don't let up until I've got what I want-ˇanswers."
After the initial meeting, she was impressed and deepened her research on the potential candidate. As her research file thickened, she realized she had a rare opportunity to witness history and approached Senator Allen about writing a biography.
Today, Antrim is traveling side-by-side with the Republican Senator from Virginia and his staff to chronicle his life and rise to power. With many insiders touting Allen as a presidential hopeful in 2008, Antrim may have a front seat on the bus to record history in the making.
While Antrim is pursuing her first non-fiction project full time, she is spending a couple of weeks a month in Washington. She's interviewing people from Allen's life and structuring a biography to tell the story she sees as the "birth of a great leader."
While the road map for a career after the completion of the biography is still unfolding, she sees her future as continuing on the pathway to political pundancy. Her second novel is drafted, but, "It's going be a while," said Antrim. "I have no idea when I'll be getting back to it."
Antrim has also temporarily put the brakes on her old life that was filled with local charity events. She is enjoying the ride, but misses her family terribly and does her best to find her way home as often as possible.
While Antrim is blazing a new trail, Jeff, the founder of Antrim Engineering and Construction, is taking care of things at home. Their daughter Katie, 18, a senior at Amador Valley High School, is preparing for graduation and daughter, Taylor, 12, a sixth grader at Pleasanton Middle School, is readying to move up another grade in June. Antrim's extended family is chipping in to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Antrim sums it up: "It's been a little crazy, but I'm having the time of my life."
Looking to Tune In?
Kathleen Antrim's commentary is on Talk Radio 560 (KSFO) every other week. Her next appearance is scheduled at 8 a.m. Monday, April 10
Every Monday at 3 p.m. Eastern time, Antrim co-hosts Radio America's "Battle Line with Allen Nathan." For information on how to tune in this satellite broadcast show, visit www.radioamerica.com.