Sunday, July 28, 2013

Keep looking up, cause that's where it all is.

I don't think I ever foresaw a point in my life when I'd be writing about how much a radio DJ meant to me, but that's exactly what I am about to do. It feels really strange to acknowledged how much a guy I never met changed me, but losing him feels like losing a family member and close friend. If you never had a chance to tune in with Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, you seriously missed out on some enormous belly laughs as well as some tears. And those of you that did listen across the nation - and I know some of you did - your heart is probably as broken as mine is tonight. 

I'm not a radio morning show kind of person. Too many words and talking in the morning makes my head buzz a little, and for most of my life I avoided morning shows like the plague. I was always super annoyed whenever any DJs would come on any station that I happened to have on, because that meant that there was going to be talking instead of music! Ugh, not talking! Bring on the music! Even when I grew up and moved to Connecticut and had Sirius XM in my truck, I only half-heartedly listened to the Morning Mashup, intrigued and entertained but mostly just trying to find a way to pass the time in my morning commutes. I just was NOT a morning show kind of person.

When I moved to Texas, it was admittedly at a low point in my life. I used my last dime to get myself here, and fell into my new job, totally exhausted. I wasn't entirely sure what had possessed me to bolt from Connecticut to a place that was 125% different, but I just knew I had to get away - freshly injured horse, job loss, bad relationship, and roommate troubles basically made me throw up my hands and jump at the first thing I could get that was as different as I could find. It didn't take long for me to discover that I had given up everything I loved about New England for a horrible misrepresented job and a backstabbing boss that I absolutely hated. It was really not a good time for me.

Three good things came out of that period of time. First was Future Hubs, of course... lucky thing I moved to Texas, or else I never would have met him! Secondly, my business finally came to fruition.... hating my then-current job pressed me into taking up hoofcare professionally after all the years that I had been talking about it without doing anything about it. Thirdly, I discovered Kidd Kraddick. One miserable and cold morning shortly after I had moved, the barn radio was playing in the background while I cleaned stalls. I was ignoring it for the most part, but I started listening in when the cast started doing The Teacher Test. By the end, I was roaring with laughter. I decided to tune in again the next day... and the day after... and the day after. Pretty soon, Kidd became a part of my every day routine, and made my early morning commute to my miserable job that much better. I woke up excited to get to my radio and listen, just so I could laugh along with them. I needed laughter so badly in my life, and they delivered.

I only lasted a few months at that job. Mid-year the entire thing went to hell in a handbasket, and I found myself jobless again, stuck in a tiny apartment in Fort Worth with no AC and a very scary Projects apartment building nextdoor. Struggling, starving, and with a mare who was fast going down the tubes, I sought out Kidd Kraddick every day, searching for something to give me laughter. And, like he always did, he delivered in full. I also cried along with them as I learned more about the charity work they all did for terminally ill or disabled children - if ever there was a humanitarian, it was Kidd.

Kidd has been a staple in my life ever since. Having him to look forward to every morning, no matter what kind of chaos was going on around me, was like a rock in my tumultuous life. He got me through some horrible things, and it felt just like having an old friend riding along in my truck with me every day. I got to know and love all of the cast members on the show, and even at the end of the day Future Hubs and I would laugh about something we both had heard on the radio that morning. He was a staple in Future Hubs' life too - Kidd has been on air in Dallas since before we both were born, and had been on 106.1 since Future Hubs was a little kid, so he literally grew up with him. All over Dallas - all over the country - everyone has echoed the same sentiments.

I listened to the show on Friday, like I always do, and Kidd and the crew signed off with their typical, "Keep looking up, cause that's where it all is." They all then went to New Orleans for the weekend to do fundraising work for Kidd's Kids, Kidd's non-profit organization which takes over 50 families with terminally ill children to Disneyworld every year. Kidd spent his last day on earth doing what he loved most, which was working with the kids he adored. He died unexpectedly last evening, reportedly of a brain aneurysm. It was a total shock to everyone, and the thought of Monday morning without Kidd is just inconceivable to me. Kidd has ALWAYS been there... and now he's just gone.

Listening to the DJs who worked with him and knew him for years at 106.1 was just heartbreaking.... all of yesterday evening and today, the phone lines have been open and thousands of people have been calling in to share their memories. The DJs have been crying and laughing along with them. Facebook is absolutely filled with outpourings of love and grief, just as long and complex as this one has been - everyone felt like he was a part of their family, and we were as much a part of his family as he was ours. It isn't just the local area that is grieving - Kidd was Dallas-based, but his show was syndicated with more than 75 other stations. So many people knew and loved this guy! It's just unimaginable that we'll never hear him live on the air ever again... that he's just gone.

My mom summed it up with this: "Now you know how I felt when John Lennon died." Yes. Yes, that is exactly how I feel. (And yes, I actually called my mom to tell her how badly I was feeling!)

Tomorrow we'll hear from the rest of the cast at 7am, and then I don't know what is going to happen to the show. To be honest, radio is just never going to be the same again without him.

Rest in peace Kidd..... thanks for getting me through some horrible times, for being a mainstay in my life when everything else was chaos, and for helping thousands of children and their families get through some horrible times as well. I'm not religious, but if ever there was a heaven, he's there, reunited with all the terminally ill children that he helped that are no longer with us. The world is a better place for having had you in it.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What a beautifully written tribute! I didn't know Kidd Kraddick had been on the air for so long. I knew who he was but had never listened. It sounds like I missed out on something special.

  3. I know exactly how you feel! My heart is broken, and I feel as if I've lost a family member :-( I've listened to kidd kraddick since I was in middle school, and I too, lived for his show because I needed laughter in my laugh! He has helped so many children and families that have struggled with pain, and sorrow.. He will be forever in my heart! Keep looking up, cause that's where it all is.

  4. So beautiful. I'm so glad you had him to lift your spirits during your darkest days. <3

  5. Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry! I myself have never listened to the show, but I know how much a radio DJ can mean. When I was going through a bad time in my life one of the highlights of my day was Howard Stern, then on the radio in NYC. My mother "did not approve," but my dad and I would laugh ourselves silly every night when I'd pick him up at the train station after his commute. Sometimes I'd have to pull the car over while we finished listening to some bit that Howard had going, if we were almost home. To this day I have a soft spot for Howard and am grateful for the great times I had with my dad (who I lost 20 years ago). Sounds like Kidd was a special guy and many, many people are grieving alongside you. I hope the program continues, although I know it won't be the same.

  6. This is beautiful, Andrea. My heart broke when I found out Kidd had passed. I live in Dallas and have listened to him for several years. He always lifted my spirits when I was driving to school and didn't want to be. I hope the show continues on as his legacy, even though it will obviously never be the same. Listening to the radio these past two days has been tough, and hearing his voice from the recorded skits is surreal.

  7. I think you wrote this article on my behalf too. The talk show was something that lifted my spirits up and kept my laughing through out. Like you said, this show was one of the things that catered to me at a low point of my life. Thank you, RIP Kidd Kraddick!

  8. I know exactly how you feel. I think I have cried everyday this week on my way to work. Who knew someone you never met could have such an effect. He has made me realize that life should be fun and filled with memories. I just want to have as much character as him. "keep lookin up cause thats where is all is" my fav quote ever!