My love of radio started at an early age. My mom never let us watch TV in the morning before school and we were never allowed to have TVs in our room. But every morning, we woke up to the living room stereo on and I don’t remember a time where we didn’t have at least a clock radio in our room. In my house, radio was king.
I’ve been a Kidd Kraddick listener from the beginning. From his night jock days at the Eagle (“Boogie check, boogie check – ooh ah”) to his start at KISS in ’92 as the new morning show, I was there. In 1992, I had just returned to the Metroplex after 2 years attending college in the country. I was a little uncertain about starting all over at a new college, but when I found Kidd back on the radio, everything seemed right with the world.
I will readily admit that I was (and will always be) the consummate Kidd Kraddick in the Morning fan. I listened before he hired Kellie. I remember when he hired Kellie. To be polite, she was not my first choice. Now she’s one of my closest friends. Funny how things turn out!
I know I’m not the only one, but Kidd made a major impact on my life. If you mention something that happened on the show, I can probably tell you where I was when it happened. And like many of his listeners, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning got me through some pretty tough times in my life. I’ve had the misfortune (or fortune, depending on how you look at it), to go through a few periods of unemployment. The last one occurred at the same time as the worst break up (and resulting depression) of my life. But no matter how bad things got, I always had Kidd Kraddick. And from 6-10am, I could laugh (or cry, depending on the day) and forget about my stuff and enjoy someone else’s. And then everything changed.
In the middle of 2002, I was working the worst job I ever held. After I was hired, I was moved into a completely different position and my boss was the epitome of “Bad Boss”. I was miserable every single day and I could feel myself slipping into that dark place that I had no desire to revisit. I was so unhappy that I literally prayed every day for God to give me anything … ANYTHING … that would allow me to leave. And then I got fired.
If you’ve ever been on unemployment, you know it’s not nearly enough to live on. If you’re lucky, it may be enough to cover your rent but for most it’s just a supplement. And with my savings quickly dwindling, I was getting desperate. Enter Kidd Kraddick.
After listening to the show for years, I had always wanted to be a KKITM contest winner. I loved the show so much that it didn’t matter to me what the prize was, I just wanted to be on the show and be a good winner. We all know how Kidd loved a good winner. But as luck would have it, things never panned out … until Kidd’s Krib.
The Kidd’s Krib contest was kind of a combination of MTV’s Real World and Road Rules with 7 strangers living in a high-rise condo for 2 weeks and raising money for Kidd’s Kids. There weren’t a lot of details going into the contest about what would be involved but 3 things about the contest appealed to me. 1. Raising money for Kidd’s Kids 2. Getting to interact with Kidd Kraddick in the Morning for 2 weeks and 3. The grand prize of living in that high-rise, rent-free for a year. Let me say that part again … RENT FREE FOR A WHOLE, ENTIRE YEAR!!! Yeah, I was in!
In the beginning, I followed the rules and submitted my entry online like everyone else. I hoped that my witty and entertaining persona would come across online. But when the deadline started to approach and I hadn’t heard anything, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
The last Friday before Thanksgiving break, I headed down to the Canal in time for Flush the Format with a huge poster that said “I wanna live in Kidd’s Krib!” I sat outside in freezing temperatures waving my sign during every break hoping and praying that someone on the show would notice me. That person turned out to be Big Al.
Big Al had come out several times during the show to flirt talk with me and finally, during the 9 o’clock hour, they put me on air. Kidd asked me a bunch of questions, like why I was still single (a question I also wanted to know the answer to!) and why I wanted to do the contest. I explained to him that I was the show’s BIGGEST fan and that I was currently unemployed and could use the free rent. We ended the interview with Big Al asking me for my phone number and me agreeing to give it to him with the understanding that there was no way in the world that I would ever, ever, ever, EVER sleep with him. Ever. (Take THAT, Taylor Swift.)
2 weeks later, I was officially a Kidd’s Krib contestant and 2 weeks after that I won! There isn’t much I remember about being named the winner. But I remember there were lots of tears and me saying to Kidd over and over “You don’t understand – this totally changes my life!!” I had no idea then, how true those words would become.
A few days before the contest ended, the contestants were walking through the studio back to the apartment and the show had just ended a break with Psycho Shanon fighting with one of the phone screeners. Being a long time listener, I knew the backstory and as I passed by Kidd in the hallway I said, “If you need to get rid of her, I’m looking for a job!”
It was an offhand comment and I never gave it another thought. But a week later at the big Christmas show, Scott Robb (the producer at the time), pulled me into his office and said, “What are you doing January 3rd?” Uhhhh, nothing. “Wanna come answer phones?” Um, duh. The rest, as they say, is radio history.
To say that moment changed my life is an understatement. I will never know why Kidd decided to hire me. I don’t know what it was he saw in me, but working for Kidd Kraddick in the Morning literally changed who I was at 30 and helped me grow into the woman I am at 40 (well, 41).
Kidd taught me everything I know about radio. He put me on air having literally no experience and gave me regular bits. He told me when I was good, when I sucked and taught me how to be better. He regularly asked my opinion and what I thought about the show. He told me to always be true to myself and no matter what people thought about me, good or bad, not to back down about things I truly believed in. I took that to heart and sometimes it came back to bite him in the butt. Like when I told him I hated one of his bits. Or when I endlessly defended Kellie. That drove him nuts. But I think he also secretly loved that about me.
There were times when he drove me crazy (and I him) and there were days when he infuriated me, but I always respected him. He was brilliant. To see him work was like watching a genius at work. If you watched him closely, you would swear that you could see the cogs moving in his head. He was smart and quick-witted and could create a character or an entire script in minutes. Some of his best bits were completely off the cuff and instantly became Radio Gold. In the 6 years that I worked at Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, I learned more about radio than I ever could have learned in school. And I wasn’t the only one.
In my time at KKITM, I saw Kidd teach and mentor countless employees and help them get jobs in the industry. I saw him give advice to listeners who were bold enough to ask for it and help listeners in need that never asked for a thing. Most of those occurrences were off air and that’s the way he wanted it. As arrogant as Kidd could be, he could also be incredibly humble and never asked for acknowledgement for the wonderful things he did.
I owe so much to Kidd Kraddick. He gave me advice about my career and encouraged me to become a wedding planner. He gave me advice about being a parent and about marriage. He told me to make sure that I had audio of my kids, not just video and to never stop playing with them. He told me to always stay hot for my husband and when (not if, when) we started to drift apart, to put aside whatever was standing in the way and fight to get back on track.
Then there’s the greatest gift Kidd gave me. My writing. I never knew that I loved to write. In fact, most of my life I hated it. But when Kidd forced asked everyone on the show to start show blogs, I discovered a part of me that I never knew existed. When I go back and read my Kidd Kraddick blog, I’m embarrassed at how bad some of he early stuff is. But Kidd never told me that. He encouraged me to write every day and I got better. I’m ashamed that I’ve fallen so far away from something that Kidd thought was so good. Since I started my personal blog, several people have told me that I’m a good writer. But Kidd was the first. And he didn’t just tell me I was good, he told me I was great. When I left the show, he told me he expected me to write a book and that when I did, he’d put me on the show to promote it. One of my biggest regrets is that I haven’t done that … yet. My tribute to Kidd will be to write. Every day. I owe him at least that.
I know this has been really long winded. I could go on forever about the impact that Kidd had on my life. And I know my experience isn’t special or unique. Kidd touched the lives of almost everyone he came into contact with in some form or fashion. From his work with Kidd’s Kids to the people who listened every day, the influence he left on this world was significant. It may have been something as simple as leaving you with a smile on a bad day or as elaborate as granting a life-changing Kissmas Wish. He gave us himself every day and who he was on the radio was who he was in real life. It’s the question I got the most when I worked on the show. What is Kidd really like? Just like he is on air. If you listened to the show, you knew exactly who he was.
I have no doubt that Kidd is already holding court in Heaven. I imagine him surrounded by children, entertaining them with funny voices and silly skits and providing comic relief to the grown ups with tales he’s told many times, each being re-told like it’s the first time. Like I said before, he was that good.
Kidd was hilarious and smart … and sarcastic and infuriating … and kind and generous. Kidd Kraddick was absolutely one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and the world is a better place having had him in it.
If you have a story or favorite memory about Kidd, please leave it in the comments. I know that he touched the lives of so many and I’d love to hear what you have to share!