Regular listeners to KROQ will be familiar with the enthusiastic yet dulcet tones of Kat Corbett. As well as hosting middays, she is responsible for choosing the bands for and hosting the popular and important Locals Only show. The likes of Billie Eilish, Silversun Pickups, Young the Giant, and Fitz & the Tantrums all received early airplay there, cementing Corbett’s voice as vital for L.A. music.
She got her start in radio at sadly-defunct Boston station WFNX after interning at, surprisingly, a gospel station.
“It was really interesting because it was run by ministers and I’m an atheist,” Corbett says. “But they were lovely and I learned how to edit. I got sick of the snow in Boston and drove out to L.A. to try my luck.”
Escaping the cold for this warmer climate and to try one’s luck in the entertainment industry isn’t an uncommon tale. Of course, not everybody makes it. After arriving in SoCal, she co-hosted a morning show on Y107 with Chris Hardwick and Courtland Cox before everyone was fired and that station went under.
“I like to believe I’m not the reason these stations have gone under,” Corbett says. “We all got fired, and I was happy because I was so done. I kept bugging Kevin Weatherly at KROQ. Radio is a really hard nut to crack. There’s a finite number of positions and they’re always full. You literally have to wait for someone to die. It goes along with the local thing — you build a rapport with the audience. You should feel like I’m riding shotgun in your car. So I hounded him until he gave me an audition.”
Eventually, Weatherly did open the door a crack and, with her foot in there, Corbett gradually squeaked through, first with the occasional weekend set and then, finally, her own shows, including Locals Only. KROQ has a rich history of breaking local talent, from Rodney Bingenheimer to Zeke Piestrup’s Music From Your Own Backyard.
“I wanted to take it on but there has to be a slot that opens up,” Corbett says. “The secret of L.A., I think, is who can hang on the longest. I didn’t want it to be after midnight, so we waited and then finally a slot opened up before Loveline.”
For Corbett, seeing bands that she championed on Locals Only break big and pass into regular KROQ rotation, appearing at events such as Almost Acoustic Christmas, is what it’s all about.
“I’m looking for stuff that will get into rotation that a lot of people will love,” she says. “When Billie Eilish is on Almost Acoustic Christmas, I’m like, yay. In 2016, when I was telling everyone about Billie Eilish, there was crickets. The Interrupters, Silversun Pickups, Young the Giant — the list goes on and on and I have a good track record.”
She absolutely does. Corbett also highlights local bands and businesses on KROQ’s Local Commute, as well as the wonderful work done by animal shelters on KROQ to the Rescue. What would L.A. do without her?