Literary and Media Stars

People who wrote the book on the literary and media scenes

Michelle Valles has become a local celebrity as co-anchor of KXAN's evening news. 'It is rewarding to be a good role model, especially with low-income kids,' says Valles, who started a $2,000 scholarship at her alma mater, Bel Air High School in El Paso.

The petite El Paso native with the blinding smile visits local schools, serves as mistress of ceremonies at charity events and volunteers with do-good groups all over Austin. Dear to her heart is the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which she has been involved with for seven years, hosting the Jerry Lewis Telethon in El Paso before taking over here.

"I wouldn't want to spend my Labor Day weekend doing anything else," says Valles, 30.

Valles also works with the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the Aguila Awards, which honor Hispanics in Texas. She's especially proud of a $2,000 scholarship she started for students at her alma mater, Bel Air High School in El Paso.

"I'm not looking for the highest GPA, and they don't have to be Hispanic," Valles says. "The only requirement is that they leave town for college. I want them to step outside their comfort zone."

Co-anchoring the news with Robert Hadlock gives Valles a degree of celebrity.

"It's a very strange power," she says. "You have to be careful and give the right message. But it is rewarding to be a good role model, especially with low-income kids. I tell them their disadvantages are advantages. When you've been given everything, you don't have that hunger for things to be better."

Valles comes from humble origins, too. Her father was a teacher who became an abusive alcoholic and left the family when Michelle was 9. Her mother went to work as a janitor.

Valles came to the University of Texas on a one-way plane ticket and worked at the Jalisco Bar to support herself. After graduating, she returned to El Paso and advanced from part-time reporter to weeknight anchor at the NBC station affiliate.

As for the future, Valles says she'd be "perfect on 'The View,' " but has no plans to leave Austin. She isn't longing for marriage and a family — and she feels guilty about that.

"I just don't know, but if I don't do those things, I better do something," she says. "So I really try to use my position to influence kids in a positive way."

Lidia Agraz

Time-Warner Cable

John Aielli


Sammy Allred


Sarah Bird

'The Flamenco Academy', Texas Monthly

Olga Campos and Kevin Benz

KVUE, News 8 Austin, Austin Junior League, March of Dimes, Girl Scouts

Fred Cantú


Gary Cartwright

Texas Monthly

Elizabeth Christian and Bruce Todd

Elizabeth Christian Associates, public affairs consultant

Bob Cole


Mary Anne Connolly

Austin Woman, Conspirare

Kevin Connor

Music & Entertainment Television

Monica Davis

The Davis Group, International Association of Broadcast Monitors

Zarghun and Eddaicsa (Eddy) Dean

Tribeza, Austin magazine

Jody Denberg


Dale Dudley


Betty Sue Flowers

LBJ Library and Museum

Bob Fonseca


Robert Hadlock

KXAN, CASA, Easter Seals

Michael Hall

Texas Monthly

Stephen Harrigan

'Challenger Park,' Texas Monthly

Mary Herman

Texas Book Festival

Donna and Steve Hicks

Stockton Hicks Laffey, Capstar Partners

Jim Hornfischer

Hornfischer Literary Management

Molly Ivins

Creators Syndicate

Brette Lea

UT Performing Arts Center

David Lindsey

'The Face of the Assassin'

Jill McGuckin

McGuckin Entertainment PR

Judy Maggio

KEYE-TV, Blue Santa, Children's Hospital of Austin

Libby and Bruce Malon

Professional Management Group, Austin Parks Foundation

Lance Avery Morgan

Brilliant Magazine

Jeff Nightbyrd

Acclaim Talent, Armadillo Podcasts

Joe Nick Patoski


Steven Phenix

Phenix Rising, Armadillo Podcasts

Cactus Pryor


Wayne Slater

Dallas Morning News

Jim Spencer

KXAN, Jerry Lewis Telethon (MDA), Helping Hand Home for children, ARC of the Capitol Area

Tom Spencer


Tom Staley

UT Ransom Center

Bart Stephens

West Austin News

Bruce Sterling

'Visionary in Residence'

Bill Stotesbery

KLRU, Hart InterCivic

Maury Sullivan


Kerry Tate


Sally and Bill Wittliff

Southwestern Writers Collection and Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern and Mexican Photography at Texas State University The New Yorker, CAST