May 4, 2010
Ms. Deandra White
“Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy. Kidd Kraddick plays the jams when I am in this city.” For many commuters, carpools, and teenager’s the one thing that gets them through the morning drive is knowing that there will be a contagious energy blaring through the speakers of their car. This contagious energy is known as the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show. I began listening to Kidd when I was a freshman in High School and have continued to do so. It was my dream to be part of this amazing dynamic one day. I like many others wondered what it was like behind the scenes of the show. I found out quickly that what I always thought and daydreamed about was not exactly what I assumed it was.
Waking up at 4:00 a. m. in the morning is not exactly a dream job but to Kidd, Kelly, Big AL, J.C. and Jenna they are doing exactly what they love. On my first day I was extremely nervous because I was about to meet the people behind the microphones. I was going to be among what I considered some of the most talented people in the world. What would I do, where would I sit, and more importantly what would I wear?
On my first day of achieving the dream I arrived at 4 a.m. I parked my car and began to walk. I was given directions by one of the producers as to where the Kidd Kraddick studio was. After being given some challenging directions I found myself standing next to a canal, between large buildings, in the dark, cold, windy, morning. As if I was not nervous enough I had the thought of my adventure of observing the show turning into being the topic of the show. I could hear it now “young lady kidnapped while on her way to achieve her dream of meeting the Kidd Kraddick in the morning show.” After finally realizing I just parked in the wrong part of the garage, I got back in my car and finally arrived at the KKITM studio. I walked past a large glass window where I saw a large desk with many microphones surrounding it. I rang the doorbell and waited t for someone to open the door. I was greeted my Rob Ehrman, who is the manager of the show and his job entails making sure the show runs smoothly and that each segment they are discussing is done at the right time and they don’t go over the time limit. I was surprised to be greeted by such a warm face with a large smile at 5 a.m. I sure as hell wasn’t smiling. I just escaped a close brush with death of being kidnapped and thrown into the canal. I followed him inside, down a long hallway that had signatures of popular entertainers in the world. I walked past the studio with the large desk and microphones and into a room with a large window that overlooked the studio. I was thinking to myself “if they could see me now, I have finally arrived.” I was given a rolling chair and sat front row center in front of the large glass window.
I was in a room that was surrounded by many computers and people working anxiously on them. To my left was Dominique, who besides Rob was the first to introduce herself. I found out through are brief conversation that it was her second day and she was going to be in charge of the KKITM website. To my Right was Austin, who was rewinding and playing videos. Austin is in charge of video production. And behind me in the far corner was Russ who I could here was playing pre-recorded sound bites which he was editing. Directly next to Russ was a large size window that had a desk, two computers, and two telephones. This is the place where Karen sat. Karen was the phone screener. A phone screener is the person who answers the phone when the radio show asks you to call in. She answers the phone by saying “Kidd Kraddick, please hold!” There are about thirteen different lines, and she goes through and talks to each person that is holding. If she feels like there story is entertaining she types a message to Kidd which then appears on a large screen in the room where they broadcast with the caller’s name and a small snip of their story. So that way when Kidd answers he says their name and already has an idea of what they are going to talk about. These people are considered the behind the scenes people. They are the ones who we don’t know and do a lot of the work that involves the website, the videos displayed on the website, and pre recorded bits that are on the show. In front of me was the large glass window where BEHOLD! The sacred cast sits and works. In this room was the large desk with the microphones. There was a small white board that had times written with topics next to each one of those times. This is to remind the staff of the topics of the day and the time at which they will be speaking about them. Also displayed is a large white screen with minutes and seconds counting down till the show starts. This screen always displays the names of callers and videos that Kidd wants played while on the air. Slowly each member of the cast arrives about an hour before their show, where they sit with their computers in front of them and surf the web to keep up on the current topics of the day. The clock creeks slowly closer and closer to six and I begin to wonder where Kidd is. Around 5:56 a.m he finally arrives!
I had many preconceived notions about the Kidd Kraddick in the morning show but I came to learn very quickly that my assumptions were wrong. My first experience with Kidd was when I was waiting behind the large glass window for the show to start. Each cast member cam e in one by one all at different times. Most of the cost got their early to prepare for the show by googling or recording advertisements for businesses. I sat there watching the clock; it crept closer to 6:00 a.m. when the show was to air. Finally at 5:56 a.m. Kidd arrives in the studio. You can feel the energy. It’s exciting! The cast all stands out of their chairs, put on their headphones so they can hear each other clearly, while music that has a fast paced beat plays in the background. They are live on the air! While the music plays they all say different positive sayings like “wake up, it’s a beautiful Friday morning. Throughout the show they talk about the latest and greatest going on in the world. One most popular topic of discussion is American Idol. The subject matter consists of who was voted off and who they think will leave the next. In between each one they play a clip from American Idol of the contestants singing. The topics can range from the latest celebrity gossip to extremely random topics like people’s names and what’s the first thought that comes to their head when they hear that name. There are several breaks throughout the show which last about nine minutes. At this time when the break begins the cast scatters. They each go to their offices and prepare for the show to resume. J-Si often does parody’s of famous people like Lady Gaga or Little Wayne. The cast member’s personal lives are also the center of conversation on the KKITM. J-Si story of meeting with his biological father while preparing for his wedding is discussed at least once a week. The day Kidd’s mother died he was there on air broadcasting the show. When some of the cast members went through a divorce it was very public knowledge. Big Al’s relationships are also referred to on a pretty regular basis. In my interviews with each cast member besides the fact their lives are based around the show, they basically have no personal life, is that they considered each other like family. There was a very strong sense of togetherness and comradery.
Throughout my observations I would attend the show on random days. My first day just so happened to be on a Friday. Friday is complete chaos compared to any other day. The manager Rob, ran between the studio and the phone screening room a lot. J-Si was practicing air guitar throughout the show because on Fridays they do the weekend review, which is highlights of what happened on the show throughout the week. The weekend review is played live with a band, singing along to a popular song in which they changed the lyrics. On the day I was there, they did a jingle to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” On any other day of the week Kidd comes into the production room which is where the web designer, the audio editor, videographer people all work, and jokes around with them. On Friday Kidd is know where to be seen.
The show takes several nine minute breaks throughout the broadcast that last from 6:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m. On the nine minute breaks music is played. The music playing is not played by the KKITM show; it is actually played by the KISS radio station network. To make you understand what the difference between the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show versus KISS radio station, it’s like The Bachelor playing on ABC. KKITM is just a show on KISS radio. Also on the nine minute break, Micheal Blake does the traffic report for the show. Micheal Blake is not a member of the KKITM and is not located in the studio when he does his report. During the break, the studio where the cast broadcast is empty.
The great thing about KKITM is that people have the opportunity to not only watch the show online live, they can also come down the studio and observe through a large glass window. There is usually a pretty good turnout of people who come to watch the show. On Fridays they allow the fans to come inside and watch J-Si and the band do the weekly review in the canal side lounge. The canal side lounge is a large room that has big beautiful couches and a stage. This is where when well know artist come to perform when visiting the show. The cast also goes outside after broadcasting the show to meets and greet with the observers. Kidd also gives out free t-shirts.
The KKITM is more than just a popular radio show; they are also large hearted human beings. They own a charity called Kidd’s Kid’s. Kidd’s Kid’s was a charity started in 1991 by Kidd Kraddick to help children suffering from terminally ill diseases to escape reality. They take children and their families to Disney world for five days to have fun and relax. This is such an amazing thing that the show does.
In this day in age radio is phasing out due to the introductions of I pods and other commercial free alternatives. So what is it that makes a radio station so great and appealing to a demographic that is phasing out? On KKITM they try to make regular everyday situations entertaining. They do what you call segments or bits. Bits and segments are ideas that the show comes up with, that can be entertaining and appealing to their audience. KKITM is a syndicated radio show which means the show is sold to other shows. These other shows are known as affiliates. KKITM has affiliates all over the United States ranging as far as North Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, to where they are located in Irving, Texas. Kidd does not like to broadcast on the air that they are located in Texas. He wants to appeal to people all over the United States not just in Texas. Kidd Kraddick is the actual owner of the Kidd Kraddick in the morning show which means he runs the show. When talking to Kidd I asked him “so basically you have no boss?” Which he responded with “the affiliates are my bosses” He is held accountable to them. As most people know listening to the Radio is free, so how does a radio show make money? It’s through advertising of businesses or when they have someone famous on. I always thought that when they had a famous person on the show they had to pay for them but Kidd said a majority of the time they seek out the show and offer to pay for them to come on the show. The show is also broadcasted with a delay, which means that when they say something it will actually air a few seconds later. This is just in case somebody actually slips and says something that is to inappropriate to say on air. Radio is also controlled by the Federal Communication Commission which is to ensure that the radio is available to all people and that radio is following the rules of the FCC.
So how did Kidd Kraddick in the morning come to the success it is today? It all started with a young man named David Kraddick. Most of us dream of what we want to be when we grow up but usually we find out how hard it is to achieve our dream and give up. For David Kraddick he knew from the age of ten exactly what he wanted to do. David was given the nickname Kidd because he was such a young disc jockey. David is now known as Kidd which is copy righted, which means it is his legal right for exclusive publication of his name for work. Kidd grew up in Tampa, Florida and before he was able to drive he would disc jockey teen clubs twenty miles away from where he lived. In current clubs it’s the music that gets a crowed hyped up and dancing but forty years ago it was what the disc jockey said is where the crowd got is energy from. So I guess you could say the Kidd moved crowds with his speech. Kidd knowing what he wanted to do, graduated High School at sixteen and then went to Broadcast school. He worked on a show called cool radio station where he played Christian music from six till midnight. One night the tape he was playing broke and not knowing what else to do he took control of the microphone and started talking and playing music. From there Kidd became very successful and was offered multiple jobs that began in Las Angeles, onto Salt Lake City Utah where he became good friends with Donny Osmond, and became the voice that announced Donny’s show at Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas. He finally ended with his move to Dallas where he was the night show on the eagle radio station. Kidd became very well known in the Dallas community so much so that he needed bodyguards. After three years of the night show they moved him to the morning show. Kidd was then fired by the Eagle Radio network and replaced by Howard Stern. This was the beginning of the Kidd Kraddick in the morning show. Kidd was offered a job with Kiss Radio Station and began interviews for a team for the morning show. This is when Kelly and Big- Al became part of the dynamic duo. Someone who was auditioning for the show sent in an audition tape and asked his secretary to sit in with him while he did the recording. The secretary was none other than Kelly. When Kidd heard the tape he didn’t notice the guy audition but he noticed Kelly. He then offered Kelly a position on the show. Big Al was actually Kidd’s limousine driver to work. Big Al would also come and do advertisements for his limousine service on the air. Kidd seeing the chemistry they had together offered Big Al a job on the show as well.
There are certain topics on the show that are pretty consistently talked about. The other random topics you hear are the ones the cast comes up with or sometimes a listener will write a letter to Kidd and they will talk about that on air. So one might ask how they come up with ideas of discussion. When talking to each cast member and asking them how they come up with the bits on the show, they all said it comes from everyday life. For example Big Al owns a bar located in Texas, and one day while he was working he had a couple come in and they started up a conversation. Long story short Big Al discovered they were from Australia and decided to invite these perfect strangers to stay in his home. This was material that was used on the show. Each cast member carries a tape recorder with them in the chance they discover something that can be used for the show, in that case they record. I had the most unfortunate experience of being a tape recorded victim!
Some of the popular bits on the show would be the Zine scene, the Hizziwood Hizzle, and drunk news. Jenna got her start on the show working as the phone screener which they phased her into being a cast member doing the Zine scene. The Zine scene is when Jenna reports on the latest trends. I must say she owns this part of the show because she definitely practices what she preaches. Drunken news is when they go out on weekends and interview drunken people in bars. The Hizziwood Hizzle is when Kelly reports on the celebrity gossip. The show also meets and talks with consultants who give them ideas on bits for the show. While Kelly does her show biz top five bit, I always thought the whole cast sits in and listens to her news but usually it’s just Kelly and Big Al. The show also has the opportunity to have many famous people on the show, sometimes in person and other times on the phone. I unfortunately never had the opportunity of meeting anybody famous.
Physcho Shannon, who is also known as the cancer of the office is another one of the cast members on the show. One thing I always wondered is if the way the cast members were betrayed on the show was consistent with their character in real life. In my interview with Shannon I learned very quickly that her character on the show was exactly who she was potrayed to be on air, “the cancer of the office.” Shannon’s role on the show is one who actually leaves the studio and goes out and finds things that would be a good bit for the show. For example she went to Florida for spring break and interviewed people while they were drunk. This was in turn used as a bit in KKITM. On another occasion she went to a Denny’s restaurant where she acted as a waitress who ate customer’s food. This again was used for the show. One thing I was surprised to learn is that when the show goes on the road like Shannon did for spring break, accommodations are not provided. I thought since this was a syndicated radio show that she would be staying in the four seasons. So while doing my observation I actually only saw Shannon in the studio twice. Which I think the good Lord above was watching out for me. I had the pleasure of having Shannon as my first member of the cast to interview. She was extremely intimidating. She told me at one point not to look her in the eye due to the fact that she was better than me. When asked what is one thing that listeners should know about you, Shannon replied with, “That I am great! I am the official talent of the show and I bring radio gold.” I found out at the end of that interview that Shannon had recorded my interview with her and was going to use it for a bit.
One of my assumptions about the cast members of the show, was once the show was done airing that they all went home and went to bed. I was wrong! Each cast member of the show goes on to throughout the day to work and contribute to KKITD. For Kidd he goes into business mode. Kidd owns The Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show, which means he works with all the affiliates, the music business he owns, or any aspect of the show. A typical day for Kidd is to wake up around three or four a.m. and goes to work on things for the show from home. Kidd works from home until the very last minute because he feels he can get way more done there and that’s why he arrives ten minutes before the show starts. He then sticks around the studio until two in the afternoon and works on things for the show. He sometimes tries to catch a nap. You would also think they would all go to bed pretty early due to the fact they all have to get up extremely early but they don’t. They stay up late and watch television so they can talk about it the next day on the show. Big Al is usually the first one gone, and he goes to his bar and works. The cast entire lives our based around the show. They never miss even when they are sick. They each said although it’s difficult to get up early you eventually get use to it.
I must say I was very excited when I got the opportunity to observe Kidd Kraddick in the Morning and felt that I had stuck gold. I was totally surprised at how easy and accommodating the show was. Although at first I was excited it soon turned into insecurity. I was about to walk into a room full of what I considered famous people. After doing my observations I must say that being there I felt extremely welcome. My feelings of being intimidated left as soon as I walked in the door and everyone greeted me. The number one thing I learned in my observation of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning was that these people are the most down to earth people and that they truly are one big happy dysfunctional family.