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Keep lookin' up, 'cuz that's where it all is


In the wake of radio host Kidd Kraddick’s untimely death, I don’t want to pile on, so I’ll be brief.

Part of my role here has been to help instruct young people in the ways and means of radio and media content production. It’s easy to say, “we teach students to do radio,” but nobody just, “does radio.” But that’s discussion for another day.

One of the first things I always introduce to an aspiring content creator (radio, TV, journalism, you name it,) is the necessity for inspiration – the ability to recognize greatness that had come before. The question is posed: who already does what YOU’D like to do professionally, someone you look up to or would like to emulate?

For me, it’s Kraddick. For my last 15 years, he’s been an ever-present reminder of how powerful radio can be.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to steal and implement some of the tips and tricks he’d used on his show in MY shows, both in commercial radio and here at KETR.

I stumbled upon his show in high school (the cast was a little different then) after a Beatles-only experimental station in Dallas went off the air – it was two clicks up on the radio dial, and I was hooked from day one.

There were a few years after college where I was making a 3-hour trip to work (in order to go on the air at 7am) every other weekend. The drive was from one end of Dallas radio coverage to the other, and I’d spend nearly the entire trip listening to him. I listened to him like I watched the Food Network, not for recipes, but for techniques.

My professional story – how I got into radio in the first place - also includes a Kraddick touch point, though we never met. That’s for some other time.

I’m a huge proponent of the mission of public broadcasting, and it’s been pretty easy for the most part, because of the tendency for commercial operations to do whatever needs doing in order to get people to act the way advertisers want them to act, and public media is different from that.

But so was Kraddick. His was one show I could point to and say confidently that there’s one commercial operation that still puts the audience first. He pushed the limits of radio’s “theater of the mind” capabilities, and it was so important to him to be real, to live his life on the radio for all to hear.

The radio landscape in Dallas, on nearly 100 stations across the nation, and around the world on Armed Forces Radio, has changed significantly. Kidd Kraddick was a clever entertainer, a cunning businessperson, a generous soul, and apparently the kind of boss who could sill get everyone who worked for him in the office at 5am on the Monday after he passed away.

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