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Letter From the Editor: Why Kidd Kraddick Was More Than Just a DJ

Monday mornings are often met with resistance, but this one carried with it an unusual sense of sadness and hesitance for many of us, because a fixture of our daily routines is gone.

I know I’m not the only one who has been mourning over KISS-FM DJ Kidd Kraddick since late Saturday evening when the news of his sudden death shocked our city and thousands nationwide. Sleeping was impossible for me that night; I felt a genuine sense of loss, though I have never come close to meeting the beloved man.

And yet, he has been, in part, the glue that has held the various stages of my life together.

I admit I even felt guilt—like I had betrayed Kidd when I learned of his death—because of the few mornings I blared my Spotify playlist over "Kidd Kraddick in the Morning."

Like many of you, I can’t remember mornings before Kidd.

He was a part of the weekday mornings when my sister, 13 years my senior, dropped me off at daycare as a little girl, but never before stopping for donut holes and Dr Pepper, a winning breakfast combination that we waited years to tell our parents about.

Kidd’s unforgettable voice drifted over the airwaves on my first day of kindergarten, where I distinctly remember looking back and waving at my mother and father, who likely had tears in their eyes.

The whole gang, led by Kidd, seemingly lured me out of bed throughout those terribly unfortunate middle school years. And then, for the early morning choir rehearsals and drill team practices before the sun was up, the show’s banter sometimes being the only high point of days filled with calculus, world history and later, college applications and the persistent unease about where I’d finally end up.

When I went to college in Bryan-College Station, one market that Kidd Kraddick in the Morning wasn’t in, I took special measures not to miss the morning show, streaming it on the Web.

I listened online during summer internships in Manhattan and Austin, Kidd’s tone, laugh and that inevitable Kraddick-Rasberry chemistry a constant for me during a sometimes overwhelmingly transitional period of life.

All of my life’s most poignant memories have one uniting factor—the presence of Kidd’s anecdotes, silly songs and unmistakably somber moments on my countless drives to school and work.

He was there to respectfully open up our nation’s wounds and somehow approached highly sensitive, hurtful topics with grace and care. An uncommon marriage of intelligence and wisdom, Kidd's words brought comfort. 

I remember the shows post 9/11—even as a ten-year-old, I tried desperately to decipher what the terrorist attack meant for our nation, and me. Kidd’s insights on the Columbia space shuttle disaster, the aftermath of the Joplin tornado and other natural disasters helped us to cope.

More recently, he and the gang were there to navigate our early-morning processing of the senseless Sandy Hook shootings, tragic West explosion and horrific Boston Marathon bombings.

His willingness to speak of his faith bonded us and allowed us to make sense of tragedy every time it struck. Then, he was no longer a guy on the radio; he was a friend.

But just when you thought one day’s show would be wholly serious, Kidd’s sense of humor shined through, and we realized it was okay to laugh even when it seemed like everything was falling apart.

If nothing else, he was there to remind us, audibly and with confidence, that it would all be OK. To keep lookin’ up.

We’ve laughed over the silly bits, “Get Over It,” “Mr. Must-be-Nice Guy,” and Kidd's California Kenzi, the ones that were so right on it was scary (The Mommy Test and The Teacher Test among them), and the just plain ridiculous—“PEOPLE, YOU’RE PUTTING TOO MUCH WEIGHT ON THE CHIP.”

Kidd’s heart for others spurred our own generosity. There were so many mornings, particularly around Kidd’s Kids and Kissmas Wish time, when he’d remind me how much I had to be thankful for. Listening to the heart-wrenching-but-triumphant stories of terminally ill children truly made our days better and our outlooks brighter.

He recognized sincere, artistic talent and generously offered no-names a platform. Kidd’s seal of approval meant a lot to up-and-coming stars—too many to list.

Kidd was our friend, our therapist, our own personal comedian. He was empathetic, kind and humble; I know this, despite never having known him.

Regardless of what happens with the show, Kidd’s legacy will live on, just as it should.

And the stories he told will forever be a part of our own stories.

Monday, July 29, 2013