30 July 2013

Taking a Free Flight of Back to Back Hits...

I first heard his voice when I was eleven.

I was at a slumber party with friends when the hostess's older sister turned on her radio, and I first heard the words "I'm Kidd Kraddick, taking off on another Eagle free flight of back to back hits!"

It was a little like looking behind the velvet curtain of Oz.  So this was what the cool high school kids were listening to! Now, full disclosure--I have no idea if the older sister or her friends were, in fact, cool.  But they were cool to me.  They were funny and smart and into band (okay, so maybe they were only cool to nerdy kids like me.  I totally don't care.).  And if they were listening to the Eagle (97.1 K-Eeee-GL--if you're anywhere close to my age and lived in the DFW listening area back in the day, you just sang that in your head.  You know you did.), by golly, I was going to listen to the Eagle. 

That's how I "met" Kidd Kraddick.  

Back then, he was on at night. I was a kid who didn't have a TV in my room, so my nights were spent listening to the radio.  I liked Kidd, but I liked music in general, so the DJ was just the guy who played the music.  But I liked "Burn your Buns" and the fact that he was funny.

When he moved to afternoons, I didn't listen as much because I was busy doing other junior high kid things, but I would catch him occasionally in the car going from here to there. 

When he moved to mornings, I actually felt sorry for him. I HATED mornings.  I felt certain it was a demotion. :)  But I listened every morning while getting ready and going to school, and so did my friends.  We would talk and laugh about what Kidd did or said that morning.

After my high school graduation, KEGL lost its mind and fired all the DJ's.  I still remember that weekend, going to the movies with friends and hearing Eagle's songs playing over and over and over.  I thought it was the stupidest thing they'd ever done, but I was going away to college and wouldn't be able to hear the Eagle anyway.  I thought that was where Kidd and I would part ways.   

During college, I really wanted to be one of those cool college kids who listened to something relevant and "edgy."  (If you know me, you know relevant and edgy don't exactly describe me--not now, not then.  But I tried.) So  I started listening to Howard Stern. Although I did think he was funny, I also found myself feeling a little dirty and guilty when I would get out of the car.  

I kept listening to Howard all the way up to when I started student teaching.  After a couple of weeks, I realized that if I was going to have any kind of positive impact on the kids I was teaching, Howard and I were going to have to break up.  He was making me sarcastic and cynical, and I didn't need any help with that.  So I hit the scan button... and that's when I heard the familiar voice from way back when...different station, same Kidd.  I was so excited.

At the time, it was Kidd, Kellie, Burt and Al (although Al was still doing the whole limousine business).  They would talk about their lives and what was going on in the DFW area.  My commute in the morning was almost 40 minutes, and I had a teacher conference period first thing every day, so  I was able to listen for an extended period throughout the week. I cried when Burt left because I felt like part of the family was moving away.  Kidd had a knack of surrounding himself with great people, and although the cast of players sometimes changed, the show itself was always great because Kidd knew how to find the funny in people.

I bought "Rude Awakenings," not because it was for a good cause, but because I thought it was some of the funniest moments in radio that I'd ever heard. There have been lots of those moments over the years.

And here, 28 years after first hearing his voice, I feel like a friend has died.  When my niece texted me with the news, I was so sad.  I don't want to sound like I had this guy up on a pedestal of any sort, because that's really not it at all (a booster box, maybe...).  I felt something similar to this when my high school principal died suddenly.  Someone I liked and respected, and just sort of expected to always be around.

And now he's not.

But I am so happy to have heard Kidd Kraddick 28 years ago.  He made me laugh. He gave me something positive to listen to each morning before heading into a classroom full of kiddos.  He will be missed.

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