Cathy is a born and raised Seattleite. Her love for music started early with piano at age five and flute lessons at age eight. She was fascinated with her mother's love for Elvis Presley and her father's love for The Beatles and CCR as she enjoyed their record collection while radio listening was mainly KING-AM or her sister's favorite, KJR-AM. In the late '70s, Cathy discovered KISW and her world was about to change forever… And she was only in Jr. High. Evenings were spent listening to Steve Slaton and saving babysitting money to buy albums from Zeppelin, AC/DC, Scorpions, and Pink Floyd. A trip to the Squire Shop was required to get a Rock Sticker and Rock Shirt. Cathy was even lucky enough to get her request for "The Zoo" by the Scorpions played on Slaton's show. "It may sound cliché, but there was no better feeling than getting your request played on the radio," says Cathy, "I always tried to remember that feeling every day when I went to work behind the microphone."
During her freshman year at University PrepHigh School (www.universityprep.org), she had to interview someone in media for a class assignment. The choice was easy: Steve Slaton. Chauffeured by her mother, Cathy visited Slaton at the Stewart Street studios of KISW armed with an arsenal of questions worthy of a presidential debate. Upon receiving an "A" for the assignment, she utilized this opportunity to do a class internship for two weeks during Slaton's show. "I believe my work consisted of answering phones, job shadowing-type stuff, getting coffee or a Dags Deluxe at the burger joint next door. That fateful internship somehow continued several months during Slaton's shift for roughly 10 records a week. Cathy reflects, "As long as I got my homework done, Mom and Dad would let me work at the station. It was truly 'un-cool' to be dropped off at KISW by your parents, but I am forever grateful they supported my interests." In 1982, Program Director, Beau Phillips hired Cathy as Slaton's assistant for $3.25/hr.
With mentors like Slaton, Phillips, Crow, West, Maynard and Erickson, as well as Jim Kampman in the production department, Cathy tried to learn everything she could about the day-to-day operations at KISW and always offered to help at station promotions and concerts. Cathy desperately wanted to be on-air but was informed that KISW was a major market radio station and "you don't START at KISW." "I knew that if I left to start my radio career at a smaller market, everyone at KISW would always remember me as a 15- year-old and quite possibly I would never be able to work at KISW again," says Cathy. "So I dug in my heels and waited until I was needed. The first call came at 2:00am. My dad answered the phone to find KISW needed a shift covered. Everyone at my house jumped to… And my folks drove me to my first air shift on KISW. I was 17."
Cathy's big "break" came in 1986 with the infamous mass-exodus of KISW staff to the ill-fated KXRX, ultimately securing the full-time 10:00pm-2:00am timeslot. "At a time when my career got the ultimate opportunity, I felt like my radio family was being torn apart," recalled Cathy. Over the decade that followed, Cathy slowly but surely worked up the Rock ladder. In 1991, Cathy was officially promoted as Music Director of KISW and weeknight 7:00pm-10:00pm timeslot, just as the Seattle music scene was beginning to explode globally. "KISW traditionally supported the local music scene so incorporating local artists in many aspects of our programming was almost automatic. The fact that we LOVED what we were hearing and many of the bands were our friends, made it mandatory!" says Cathy. "I was taught that KISW was a 'party looking for a place to happen' and that party was Seattle in a big way. Being there from the 'beginning' and then watching the feeding frenzy that followed was indescribable. If the attention that I received on my every move was any indication of the microscope placed on our local musicians, it's amazing that anyone survived." All you have to do is check out any local release during that time, chances are you will find Cathy Faulkner, KISW or another KISW staff member listed in the credits.
From 1991-1996, alongside the world's insatiable appetite for the Seattle music scene, KISW was also entering one of the greatest competitive radio battles since KISW vs. KZOK in the 70's. KISW, KXRX and KNDD (The End) were all fighting for their piece of the radio market and their part in Seattle music history. During that time, Cathy was not only unconditionally committed to KISW's success, but also was a national voice and advocate for Rock radio in the industry. "Alternative was the 'darling' format at the time, and the record industry was ready to leave Rock radio in the dust, even though many Rock stations across the country, like KISW, gave these "Alternative" bands their commercial start. The "Radio War" entered a cease-fire when KXRX went Young Country and KISW and KNDD came under the same ownership.
As a result of her on-air and musical savvy, Cathy received many accolades while at KISW. She was a three-time nominee for Music Director of the Year in Radio and Record magazine, four-time nominee for the same in Billboard Magazine, two-time nominee for Alternative/Rock Program/Music Director of the year for the Radio Music Awards and also received a personality of year nomination in Radio and Records along with nominations in other trade magazines and readers polls. Before she started feeling like Susan Lucci, Cathy was voted nationally as Music Director of the Year in Radio and Records in 1998 and 2000. Additionally, Seattle's Rocket magazine released their Rocket 100 - The Most Influential People in the NW Music Industry, ranking Cathy at #45.
In addition to her duties at KISW, Cathy began finding success in the world of voiceovers as well. You could hear her voice on a variety of radio and TV commercials or as that automated phone voice thanking your for your patience while on hold. Cathy also found herself hosting many national radio broadcasts through SFX/Album Network. Her national specials included Queensryche, Alice In Chains, Candlebox, Aerosmith, KISS, and Ozzy Osbourne
In 2002, Cathy made the difficult decision to take a step back and "retire" early from radio. Cathy states, "My mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the mid-to-late 90's and the disease had progressed to a point where traditional work schedules no longer fit into the equation. Family came first." KISW and parent company Entercom, along with the music industry, hosted a private "retirement" party for Cathy at EMP's SkyChurch. "I wasn't sure what the future held for me when I entered Sky Church surrounded by my peers while receiving unconditional support for my decision, but I was reminded again at that event of how truly fortunate I was to be part of something so special. Not just KISW, but the people I worked with at the station, those in the music industry I had the pleasure to work with, compete with and against, and those who mentored me along the way, not to mention the amazing Seattle music community… This was my family in so many wonderful ways. Regardless of how people reflect on my 'part' in Seattle radio and musical history, I'm just humbled and proud to be a part of it at all." Cathy's mother lost her battle with Alzheimer's in June of 2005.
Cathy's post-KISW world has been anything but slow. Her business, Cathy Faulkner Voiceovers ( www.cathyfaulkner.com), is in full swing lending her voice to a wide variety of clients which include Microsoft, AT&T, American Express and Marriott, just to name a few. "KISW is a constant influence on how I do business to this day. Work from your heart, have integrity behind your decisions and keep it fun." Cathy's philanthropic efforts include a variety of non-profits that are near and dear to her heart, including serving on the Board of Directors and later Board President for the Western Washington Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association (www.alzwa.org).
The recent past has also included some time behind the radio mic at the now defunct Seattle's K-Rock (now Jack FM), nights at KJR-FM and most recently as the imaging voice for JetCitySeattle.com. With the 20th anniversary of "grunge," Cathy has been interviewed for a variety of articles, blogs, radio shows as well as a couple books focusing on the Seattle music scene. "It's hard to believe 'grunge,' if you want to call it that, is 20," Cathy says, "but more than that, having some hindsight on what happened here, how it permeated culture on a global scale and where music has evolved from that point - is pretty amazing. Bottom line - the thing that ultimately makes me beyond proud of Seattle and our musical community…is how down to earth it is. It's like a family, in and of itself. Just look at the Seattle Band Map (www.seattlebandmap.com) and you'll understand."
Cathy and her husband, Nels, are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary this year while their son, Trevor, just turned eight, and is now checking out Mom's music collection. To quote Trevor, "It Rocks!"