Heart-wrenching words from fellow DJs about the late Kate Reyes

14 November 2014 / 1 year 11 months ago

Eddino Abdul Hadi
The Straits Times
Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014

Teenagers in the 1990s remember former radio DJ Kate Reyes as the distinctive voice that read out their dedications on air on the popular programme Say It With Music.

But to those who worked with her and knew her on a personal level, she was a steadfast friend.

Reyes died of breast cancer recently, leaving behind a husband and two young children. She was 41.

Fans such as civil servant Don Shiau, 34, tells Life! that she had star power back when he was listening to the radio as a teenager.

"In the 1990s, radio deejays became more visible to the public. They appeared at roadshows and in magazines. I remember Kate and her Perfect 10 colleagues well because I could put faces to all their names. Listening to their shows after school was like listening to a friend on the phone."

Reyes, who graduated with a diploma in business from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, started out as a DJ at the age of 21 on the MediaCorp station then called Perfect 10. In 2001, she joined WKRZ 91.3FM, then a joint venture between SPH MediaWorks and NTUC Media.

Her last DJ stint was with MediaCorp's Lush 99.5FM around four to five years ago (2009-2010).

Married to fellow Perfect 10 DJ Glenn Ong from 1999 to 2003, she kept a low profile in the last few years.

According to people close to her, her family has asked for privacy and declined to provide details of her illness or to provide a statement. At the church where the wake was supposed to be held yesterday, there was no one there in the late morning and afternoon.

But there were two wreaths - one made out to Reyes and sent by her colleagues from MediaCorp and another made out to "Our Dearest Katie" sent by friends from the United States.

Reyes' funeral is set to take place today. Kiss92's assistant programme director Maddy Barber, who was her colleague at Perfect 10 in the 1990s, says:

"I remember that Kate was not an easy person to get to know as she was very private. But once I got to know her, she became a fiercely loyal friend with a wicked sense of humour and an honest streak I could always count on to give it to me straight. I'm privileged to have worked with her and call her friend in the last years before she passed."

John Klass, another of Reyes' Perfect 10 colleagues in the mid-1990s, tells Life! that he was shocked and saddened when he found out about her death.

"Kate was a highly ambitious talent. She had a one-of-a-kind radio voice which exuded a sultry and easy style. I always expected to hear her again someday on the airwaves, where she belonged."

Kiss 92FM DJ Claressa Monteiro, whose posting about Reyes' death on Facebook quickly made the rounds on Monday, tells Life! that she will always miss her late friend and adviser and her "amazing sultry voice".

"Kate the person and Kate the DJ were in some ways very similar. I came late to radio. When we first met, I was a radio rookie and she was already an industry veteran. She was generous with her experience and free with her guidance.

"She gave completely and unreservedly. It's what made her such a great DJ, what made her such a great person. She was one of a kind. Unique, irrepressible, impressive and oh-so-loving."

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