The Incomparable Kidd Kraddick – and What You Can Learn from his Legacy
Kidd Kraddick, 1959 – 2013
You’ve probably never heard of Kidd Kraddick. But he was one of a very small handful of the world’s all-time great radio broadcasters – and there’s a lot you can learn from him. Here, we remember what a genuinely great and generous man he was, what we learned from him, and say thank you.
Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, colleagues, and the millions of people who listened to his show.
|Kidd Kraddick at the golf event on July 27|
Kidd Kraddick passed away unexpectedly on July 27th while at a golf event for his charity, ‘Kidd’s Kids’. He started ‘Kidd’s Kids’ in 1991 to provide chronically ill or physically challenged children with ”an unforgettable adventure”. Every year ‘Kidd’s Kids’ took a huge group of 5-12 year olds and their families for a week at Walt Disney World – all expenses paid. Many of the kids had slipped through the cracks of other organisations – it was charity work that made a real difference to many lives, and was close to Kidd’s heart – and we wanted to start this article about Kidd’s incredible radio career and what we learned from him, by mentioning the important charity work he did that was so dear to him.
Throughout each year, Kidd and his team worked to raise funds – in between broadcasting one of the most listened-to radio shows across America. And one of the most influential radio shows of all time. You may not have heard of him, but you’re very likely to have felt his influence indirectly, through his influence on us and many others, and on the stations and shows that Kidd’s far-reaching influence helped to shape.
Brad: "I was really shocked to hear this news. Kidd was just 53. It’s a timely reminder to make every day count – as he clearly did. I have followed Kidd’s career for years. He was an early influence on me – and the shows I worked on at 2DAY, FOX, B105 and many others.”
Scott: “This is very, very sad news. I've been stunned and silenced by the news of Kidd's passing – too stunned to write a comment until now.
I met Kidd at U.S Morning Show Boot Camp around 1999-2000, and he was generous enough to spend a couple of hours one-on-one while I grilled him about his show and approach. What a wonderful, warm, and generous man – he was happy to go into detail about anything and everything – no holding back.”
Kidd Kraddick: A Brief Bio
In any creative field – from movie directors to music artists, from architects to actors, from writers to radio broadcasters – a very small handful of people standout as being preeminent. Though, if they seem relatively normal, down-to-earth, warm, friendly and likeable – as Kidd was – it can be elusive to identify what makes them special – other than they somehow standout as being special. Really special. The proof is simply in their outstanding work, warmth and generosity.
Kidd Kraddick was one of these people. He was preeminent in his field. His show was fun, high-energy, broad-appeal and inclusive. It also had great depth, an inspiring community spirit (which spanned a wide range of communities across the 75+ stations that broadcast his morning radio show), and a strong team of genuine characters. Not merely great ‘personalities’, but real, human ‘characters’ with dimensions and strong points-of-view. Quite amazing for a show with huge, mainstream appeal and fan-base.
| Kidd Kraddick
1959 – 2013
David ‘Kidd’ Kraddick started working in radio in the ‘70s, and in 1984 moved to Dallas, where a few years later he had a career-changing experience: the station changed formats, and he was dropped. He was unemployed for a long time and – the story goes – it was during this period that he spent time experiencing what it’s like to really ‘listen like a listener’. This experience had a great affect on him and, when the opportunity to get back on-air came along at Kiss-FM Dallas, he started over – with a fresh approach.
The rest is history. After his time in the wilderness, with a refreshed approach, Kidd built a huge and loyal following, eventually having his show syndicated across 75+ stations – and winning numerous ‘Air/Radio Personality of the Year’ awards. He also launched the influential radio industry magazine, ‘The Morning Mouth’, and the show-prep sharing service ‘BitBoard’. And, of course, he dedicated his influence and a great deal of effort to charity work with The Kraddick Foundation – which includes Kidd’s Kids and The Glamour Squad charities.
Kidd Kraddick’s Influence on us – and the stations we’ve worked at
Brad: “I first heard him around 1992-1993 at Kiss-FM Dallas, not long before I became Group Program Director at Austereo. It was one of the early Crew formats I studied, and I remember it was one of the most impressive shows I ever heard. I sat in a hotel room and listened to Kidd’s show for days on end. It had broad appeal, high energy, a cast of genuine characters – a really strong team.
We used a lot of the ideas – and we used to get Kidd Kraddick’s magazine, ‘The Morning Mouth’ – it was a gold mine. After listening to his show, we adopted a lot, including the branding “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning”. That was the first time we started referring to breakfast shows as ‘mornings’, which is what the listeners called it – ‘Wendy Harmer in the Morning’, ‘Tracey & Matt in the Morning’.”
Scott: “Kidd Kraddick had a far greater influence than just in the US. I heard about him while I was a Program Director at Austereo in the ‘90s. I also read about him in Tracy Johnson’s book, ‘Morning Radio’, and through listening to airchecks. Of all the American shows, I was most fascinated by Kidd’s show – how it sounded both so loose and so tight, so unpredictable yet so spot-on for his audience, and how it had an in-built sense of ‘gotta keep listening, just can’t turn it off’ – without needing to just rely on ‘coming up next ….’ to keep people listening.
| Kidd with One Direction's Harry Styles
Around 1999-2000, when I was working in the UK at GWR Media Group (now Global Radio) as Network Program Director, we took a few of our breakfast shows to the ‘US Morning Show Boot Camp’ conference in New Orleans. This was a year or two before I moved back to Australia as Program Director of Nova 969 Sydney. At the conference one of our breakfast hosts introduced me to ‘some radio guy’ she’d been talking to. She said ‘this guy works in radio in Dallas’ turned to him and said ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name’ and he said it was Kidd. I said ‘Kidd Kraddick?!?! – do you know who this ‘some radio guy’ is?!’.
I asked Kidd if he’d tell me about his show, and he very generously spent the next couple of hours telling me all about it in detail – how it came together, how it worked, how he saw himself as a kind of ringmaster, the role of each person on the team, where they came from, how important it was that each of them were genuine, human ‘characters’ with strong points-of-view, how he knew which ‘buttons to press’ to fire each of them up when the energy was lagging, how to pull it back when it was getting out of control – he called it ‘stoking the fire’.
His words, wisdom and encouragement had a huge influence on my approach to every station and show ever since that meeting – from GWR Media Group in the UK to Nova 969 Sydney to Capital Radio London and back”.
In Part 2 (here) we list the essential lessons we learned from Kidd Kraddick’s show and career – not to tease this out, but because otherwise it would make for a very long article to read in one sitting. We believe the lessons we learned from Kidd Kraddick are worth focusing on, and spending some time thinking about. It’s a list of some of the many ways he influenced us – whether directly when Scott met with him and he generously shared his wisdom, or indirectly through diligently studying his show (not just as programmers but as genuine fans). And, indirectly, it’s a list of just some of the ways Kidd Kraddick had such a strong influence on the stations and shows we’ve each worked with in Australia and the UK.
Thank you, Kidd Kraddick. You were a wonderful, warm, and generous man – unique, genuine, and one of the great people in the history of radio.
Our thoughts go out to Kidd Kraddick’s family, friends, and colleagues. And to his listeners, who lost a good friend.
You can hear audio from Monday's breakfast show 'Kidd Kraddick's Cast Remembers Kidd' – listen here.
Read '7 Essential Lessons we Learned from the Incomparable Kidd Kraddick' here
|Scott Muller is Director of MBOS Consulting Group, and media management and elite talent consulting firm. Click here to contact him..|
|Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network and is Managing Director of Marchmedia.|