A week ago tonight around 10 p.m., I saw the following tweet.
My heart stopped for a second. I read it several times praying that I’d misread it. I hadn’t. I went searching for more info. It became evident that this wasn’t a sick joke. Local news outlets had been holding back reporting the deejay’s death until they were 100% sure it was true, but one by one they began reporting it, especially after KISS-FM released a statement.
I was heartbroken. Still am, if I want to be truly honest.
I remember the first time I listened to Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. It was late July/early August 1998. I’d grown up listening to Tom Joyner and Skip Murphy, the morning deejays for K104 here in Dallas.
But one summer morning, I got up a lot earlier than I needed to in order to listen to KKITM. Why? Because they were going to announce the headliner for KISS-FM’s first End of Summer Bash, and I needed to know immediately who that act was.
You see, during that summer, I’d become a huge *NSYNC fan. I certainly hadn’t planned it. But KISS had held a concert at the beginning of the summer and Mariah Carey was the featured guest. She was my favorite singer, so I had to see her.
I went and saw her. *NSYNC was also there, and they blew me away. They were so good. And when I like something whether it’s an author or a movie or TV show or a music group, I tend to go ALL OUT.
Anyway, that day I became an *NSYNC fan. A month later, so did a ton of other people because of their Disney Concert Special, which Disney only ran a million kajillion times (and can be found on Youtube in its entirety – lol).
In late July/early August, KISS started running a commercial promoting the End of Summer Bash and the mystery headliner ending the commercial with “And you won’t believe who it is!”
In my gut, I knew it was *NSYNC. I didn’t have any secret intel. I just knew. Finally, one Friday, the spots said Kidd Kraddick would announce the act Monday morning.
So Monday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and went downstairs to listen because my mom listened (loudly) to K104 while she got ready for work.
What I remember is that within 30 seconds of listening to KKITM, I was rolling with laughter. I’d never listened before, didn’t know who the cast members were, but they were cracking me up.
They got around to announcing the concert headliner and sure enough it was *NSYNC. They promised to give away tickets throughout the show, so I had to keep listening.
I’ve listened for the last 15 years.
I was so happy when KISS started streaming live on the Internet (remember those dark days when this was unusual?), because I was away at college and could listen to the show.
Why was I so devoted to the show, to Kidd? Because he and the other cast members invited me into their lives and made me laugh (and sometimes cry) while doing it.
When I saw that Kidd had died, my first immediate thought was for his daughter, Caroline. He loved and doted on her so much.
Although I didn’t know Kidd, I felt like I did.
I knew that his favorite movie was Somewhere in Time.
I knew that his mom, Rosie, was a terrible cook.
I knew that he was Catholic, but hadn’t been born into the faith. He’d chosen it because he felt most at home there.
I even knew that his first name was David, although that was a closely guarded secret (for privacy reasons, I believe). I suppose anyone who did a little rudimentary Internet research knew, but he never mentioned it on the show. I only knew because there had been 1 or 2 slipups on the air over the years.
What I admired most about Kidd as a professional was his storytelling prowess. I’m a terrible verbal storyteller, but Kidd was so good at it. He’d keep me enthralled, knowing when to amp up the tension, how to set up the punchline, when to hold back. Even for stories I’d heard before, I’d listen like it was the first time.
I also admired how quick and brilliant he truly was. I don’t know how many times the cast would be talking/joking about something and kind of paint Kidd into a corner. He’d sigh and say “We’ll be back with the story of how Kellie and Al became lost in the amusement park.” (Yes, that’s a really bad example, but you get the point).
After the commercial break, he’d come back with a full script that was both coherent and funny.
Did I admire everything about Kidd? No. Many times, he would quickly get bored with discussions and make everyone move on even if the audience (i.e. me) and the other cast members were enjoying it. He was also easily distracted. He’d promise that they would talk about the newest celebrity scandal next, but come back from commercial break talking about buying a new iPad. And he was so impatient. I told him to chill more than once through the radio.
But his flaws and strengths made him real. He didn’t try to hide who he was. He wanted his listeners to know him. He let me into his life and I’ll be forever thankful.
RIP, Kidd. Your legacy will live on.