By Judith Salkin
As a little girl, the MIX 100.5’s Valerie Kattz loved listening to “the people in the radio.”
And somewhere along the line she decided she wanted to be one of them.
“As a kid I would play radio,” she says. “I had a Fisher Price recorder and I used it to interview my friends.”
She got herself on the radio, in her hometown of DeRidder, La., as a teen when she called in a song request to a local station. “I waited by the radio to hear it and when it played, I taped it!” she said. “And it was so exciting.”
But a small town in southwest Louisiana couldn’t hold her. Kattz was hooked on the idea of leaving town for the bright lights of New York City or California, as soon as she could.
“We’d go on family vacations and I knew I wanted to live some place that was bigger than my little town,” she says.
At 19, Kattz got her first on-air job at a Brawley radio station, Kattz headed for Cali, with her dog and cat for her first trip west of San Antonio, Texas, in her 1986 Mustang. But she didn’t find what she expected.
“In my mind the Hollywood sign stretched from San Diego to San Francisco and you could see it from anywhere in the state,” she recalls. “Brawley wasn’t anything like that and I thought I’d moved to the DeRidder of California!”
It took about a year before the old Power Radio General Manager Mike Keene called and offered a skeptical Kattz a job in Palm Springs. Told that he’d like to consider her for a midday spot, Kattz was sure it was a prank call.
“He told me to call the station if I didn’t believe him,” she says with a laugh. Luckily, Kattz decided to make that call. She moved to the Coachella Valley and blossomed.
By then, Kattz’s car had taken a dump and she made the move via Greyhound. Amazingly she spent her first couple of years in the valley without a car. It was a little tricky when it came to getting around, but worth it.
“When I got here I thought, ‘this is more like it’,” she said of the more sophisticated area. It gave her the time to acclimate to the real California lifestyle. By the time she got a car and ventured out to places like L.A., it was more of shock to her system than she wanted to take on.
“The traffic in L.A. scared me,” she says. “I wasn’t used to a place that was so big.”
Instead of looking for a gig along the coast where she first thought she wanted to go, Kattz stayed put. And over the years she took on other positions at the radio station along with her midday gig. She’s learned the radio business in all aspects with positions as assistant production director, promotions director and selling air-time for RR Broadcasting.
Now she juggles her on-air gig and being the marketing manager for all five of RR Broadcasting’s Coachella Valley radio stations. “That includes doing all the social media,” she says. “(The listeners) are probably wondering what happened to me,” she says after not posting on either for about 45 minutes.
While she loves the music she plays on air, Kattz claims that she’s an ‘80s girl. “I love Journey and Duran Duran,” she says. “But really, there’s not a lot of music I don’t like.”
Kattz truly loves her job. In addition to her 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily slot and 7 p.m. to midnight Saturdays nights (she recently won CV Weekly’s “Best Radio Personality” Award for 2013), she tried out television with a two-year gig as the host of the local show “The Hot 5 Video Countdown” and hosting the “The Star of the Week” segment on Patty Daly Caruso’s “Valley Views.
A true animal lover, Kattz shares her life with Bella and Buster, two Boston terriers who are “my kids,” she says. “They’re the only babies I’m ever going to have.” She’s so close to Bella and Buster that she has their paw prints on her wrist and ankle, “so that they’re always with me.”
To give something back, she volunteers with Loving All Animals and hosts a LAA Pet of the Week segment on TV on CBS Local TV2 on Wednesdays, donates her time to other local charities and writes an online pet column, and has done voice-overs for more than 3,000 radio and television commercials.
To all that, Kattz finds time to fit in work on movies that shoot in the Coachella Valley, like her co-starring role in Brad Mercer’s dark comedy, “Sushi Anyone?”
Aside from her boyfriend who lives in Hollywood (she’s gotten over her fear of L.A’s freeways), last year Kattz came up with a bucket list that she’s working on.
“I decided to give this new decade a name and called them my Fearless 40s and that it was time to conquer some of my fears,” she says.
Kattz strapped on skates, became a roller derby girl and joined Bombshell Bettys (psbombshellbettys.com), a local roller derby team, where she’s known as “KattzScratch.”
“We had scrimmages, but haven’t had a bout yet because not everyone on the team is (certified), but it’s so much fun!” she says.
While she says she paints “like a six-year-old,” she’s a collector of art supplies. To use said supplies she hosts art parties “with a group of friends,” where she supplies all the materials and the wine, and then uses her friend’s work to decorate her home.
“I looked around one day and realized that I had more art supplies than Picasso and I’d never use them in my lifetime,” she says of the parties that can last until dawn. “It’s just the best time.”
This article originally ran on July 4, but had several errors so the writer, Judith Sulkin, has redone the article with the corrections. CV Weekly apologizes to Valerie Kattz for the inconvenience.