Scoot: What the life, and death, of Kidd Kraddick tells us about radio
by Scoot,posted Jul 29 2013 6:50PM
The sudden death of radio personality Kidd Kraddick is a reminder that life is fragile and never guaranteed.
'Kidd Kraddick' in the Morning was a syndicated radio show from Dallas that is the morning show on our sister station B-97. I didn’t know Kidd Kraddick, but since I did that same morning show slot in the 80’s on B, I felt an instant bond with Kidd when I got an alert from WWL's text alert Saturday night that he had died.
When he died, Kidd Kraddick was hosting the Kidd’s Kids Golf Tournament at Timberlane Golf Club on the Westbank. His charity was dedicated to bringing joy to thousands of chronically ill and terminally ill children. The network that syndicated his show said, “He died doing what he loved, and his final day was spent selflessly focused on those special children that meant the world to him.”
I talked to some of the B-97 staff about him and everyone paints a picture of an outstanding human being who gave his time unselfishly, in an industry where that is sometimes hard to find. “Working with Kidd for the past 5 years – he was phenomenal and he became a staple in the New Orleans area post-Katrina,” said B-97 Program Director Jammer. “Who he was on the air was who he was off the air. Total great guy – loved his work family, his daughter and his listeners. What more can you ask for?” continued Jammer.
“People would be truly surprised at how many people he touched – not only through his charity, but also with the way he invited listeners into his life every morning,” was the first comment from Johnny Palumbo, Promotions and Marketing Director for B-97. “On a personal note,” Johnny said, “he was the kindest person – willing to share his radio experience and wisdom with others.” And I can tell you what a wonderful characteristic that is in a world where talent can be very territorial. That attitude of sharing with those around him is certainly consistent with his on-air and off-air persona.
Kidd Kraddick was only 53 years old – about to turn 54 in August. That’s too young to die. While his family and the on-air staff he was so close to grieve the loss of their dear friend and leader, and while listeners will feel a void in their morning routine, right now I think most about his daughter, who lost her father at an early age and at the height of his career.
It is not always easy to celebrate a person’s life immediately following their death, but isn’t that the best way to honor their contributions to those they touched and the world that knew them?
The heartfelt and overwhelming response to Kidd Kraddick’s death speaks volumes about the power of radio. I know from personal experience that if you share your life on the air, listeners consider you a friend and someone they know and trust. Kidd obviously made his listeners feel that way and that is a true gift in this business.
Throughout history, people have predicted the demise of radio. When television added pictures to sound, there were predictions that radio would become insignificant. When MTV hit the air with music videos on August 1, 1981, there were predictions that radio would die. In fact, the first music video that aired on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. Radio inspires imagination and thought that video often discourages.
With today’s new technology that has added so much competition, radio continues to thrive. Radio is a unique medium that provides entertainment and information during times when no other link to the outside world is possible. America is obsessed with cars, and while video is now a part of the auto experience for the passengers, the driver (often the only person in the car) still has an intimate relationship with the radio.
During disasters, radio is often the only source of information for a community, quite literally a lifeline. It's a responsibility we take seriously every day on the job.
Traditional radio continues to face competition from a variety of areas, but there is something very special about the interaction between a radio host and his/her audience, and the idea that what we hear on broadcast radio is shared with more of a mass audience. Broadcast radio still provides a greater sense of a bond with community and as humans we still crave that sense of community that has been eroding through technology.
As we mourn and celebrate the life of radio personality Kidd Kraddick, let us also notice that the reaction to his death shows us just how personal and how important radio is to all of us. Throughout its history and even today, radio will always be an integral part of the human appetite for information and entertainment, as well as have the power to be a part of a collective effort to help others.
Kraddick showed the best of what radio, and radio hosts, can be: He did not have to use his star status to help the lives of countless children...He did it because he wanted to, and because he thought it was the right thing to do. He lived like a man who knows, as we all should, that our time on this Earth is limited, indeed.
R.I.P. Kidd Kraddick – we don’t know why God needed you right now...but thanks for making the lives of countless listeners and children, as well as the world of radio broadcasting, a better place during your time with us.