Kidd Kraddick


This morning I woke up to the sad news that one of my radio heroes has died.

I first became aware of Kidd Kraddick when I lived in Australia. In 1993 my first professional radio job was as the afternoon drive-time presenter on 2PK Parkes in the Central West of New South Wales. I wasn’t very good and wanted to get better, so I ordered a video of some of America’s best disc jockeys filmed at work in their studios. About a week later, the VHS tape arrived from Dan O’Day’s O’liners in Los Angeles. It featured footage of seven radio shows from the archives of California Aircheck, including Kidd Kraddick at KEGL Dallas.

Kraddick’s show was filmed not long after the Exxon Valdez oil tanker had run aground in Alaska, spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil into Prince William Sound. Kidd announced that all Exxon employees were going to undergo mandatory urine tests for drugs. Then he added, “…I hope they don’t spill that!!” I stole that joke and used it on the air for many years on the anniversary of any oil spill. It wasn’t the jokes that impressed me the most. What I really liked was that he came across as a nice bloke. In the era of the “shock jock”, here was a bloke that was likeable. My favorite bit in the video is a bit captured off the air of a caller asking for directions to somewhere in Dallas. Kidd was in the middle of presenting a fast paced morning show but took the time to help the caller and couldn’t have been nicer, he had class.

I subscribed to California Aircheck and was sent cassettes of Kidd through the mail for many years until his show was available online. Before the days of podcasts, I used to hook a cassette recorder up to my computer and tape the online stream of the show so I could play it in the car.

I did get to hear him on the air live on a couple of visits to the US. I can remember being in Memphis and hearing his syndicated show on the morning after the Superbowl when the Rolling Stones had played at half-time. Kidd and the team managed to sum up what everyone was thinking, “How can Mick Jagger jump around like that at his age?” It was a master class in joining a conversation the listening audience were already having.

What impressed me most about Kidd was the way he told stories from his own life. I can still remember hearing about the time his wife borrowed his car but she couldn’t drive a stick shift, so just stayed in second gear and how as a child whenever he went somewhere with his Dad, how special that felt because he didn’t have to share him with anyone else.

I only got to meet Kidd once. It was at Don Anthony’s “Morning Show Boot Camp” in New Orleans in 2005. I walked up to him and I told him what an inspiration he had been since the very beginning of my radio career. He was just as nice in real life.

His spirit will live on in the voices of those he influenced on the radio. Thousands of broadcasters around the world owe a little bit of whatever success they’ve had to Kidd Kraddick, and although I probably came across like a teenage fan meeting a member of One Direction, I’m glad I got the chance to thank him personally.

Craic on!

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