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.
“I would play the radio,” she says. “I had a Fisher Price recorder and it used to interview people, then I’d try to get my interviews on the radio.”
She got her first interview on air as a kid, and by the time she was a teenager she had a spot on her DeRidder, Louisiana station. But the small town in southwest La., couldn’t hold her. Kattz was also 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, with a job at a Brawley radio station, Kattz headed for Cali, without a car.
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 didn’t look anything like that. I’d moved to the DeRidder of California!”
It took about a year for the old Power Radio General Manager Mike Meenan 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, she decided to make the call. She moved to the Coachella Valley and blossomed.
“When I got here I looked around and I thought, ‘this is more like it’,” she says. It gave her the time to acclimate to the real California lifestyle. By the time she got a car a couple of years later, L.A. was more of shock to her system than she wanted to take on.
“The traffic scared me,” she says. “And it was so big; I wasn’t used to a place that was so big.”
So instead of looking for a gig along the coast, Kattz stayed put. In addition to her midday gig, she also worked as the assistant production director, promotions director and selling air-time for R&R Broadcasting.
Today she juggles her time on-air and as the MIX’s marketing manager. “Which includes doing all the social media for the station,” 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 really 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 what she does. In addition to being on air from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight, she had a two-year gig as the host of the local show “The Hot 5 Video Countdown,” in addition to hosting the “The Star of the Week” segment on Patty Daly Caruso’s “Valley Views.”
She’s an animal lover, with two Boston terriers who are “my kids,” she says. “They’re the only ones I’m ever going to have.” To prove it, Kattz has Bella and Buster’s paw prints on her wrist and ankle, “so that they’re always with me.”
To give something back, she hosts a weekly radio animal segment, volunteers with Loving All Animals, donates her time to other charities and writes an online pet column.
And she still finds time to fit in extra work on movies that shoot in the Coachella Valley, like 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 young roller derby team, where she’s known as “KattzScratch.”
“We haven’t had a scrimmage yet because not everyone on the team is (certified), but it’s so much fun!”
Kattz, who claims that she paints “like a six-year-old,” also likes to hold once a month art parties “with a group of girls,” 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.”