Ten years ago, I was driving to work listening to the radio - like I always did. I was listening to my favorite radio show: Kidd Kraddick in the morning. I'd been listening to him for years. As long as I'd had a car, and had to drive it early in the morning (we're talking high school and beyond)... I'd listened to Kidd Kraddick.
Any who, this particular morning, the "gang" were all talking about coming up with a contest to send someone to see a live taping of American Idol. It was the 2nd season, and I'd become a big fan of the show. The minute I heard that they were going to give away an all expense paid trip to a live taping... I perked up.
Then, Kidd being the funny man that he was, announced that the contest would involve having the biggest star possible call in to the show. Whoever got the biggest star to call in and give an interview won the contest.
My heart sank.
How the heck was I going to find a famous person to call in to the radio show? I sure didn't know any. So, I continued my drive to work a little downhearted.
Shortly after getting to work, I had a realization. My ex's mother had gone to school with Reba McEntire. Did she still have any contact? Probably not.. but if she knew a way to get ahold of her, it would be a start. I quickly called her up and told her all about the contest. She told me that she'd lost touch with Reba many years before.. but she did know that Reba had a brother that still lived in Oklahoma. She gave me his name (Pake) and his number, and I stored it away for that evening when I was at home and not making personal phone calls from work.
That evening, my fingers shook as I dialed the phone. Would this guy think I was nuts? Would he hang up on me and tell me to never call his house again?
A guy picked up after a few rings. He had a thick southern drawl, and I almost just hung up. But, I didn't. I asked for Pake, and he confirmed that I'd reached him. I told him my name, and told him my connection to my ex mother-in-law. He remembered her from school, remembered her as being one of Reba' friends. I felt a little more relaxed.
I then went on and explained the contest.
I expected him to laugh at me. Tell me how impossible it was to get his sister to call in to a radio station during her busy time of singing and recording a TV show (Reba was on the air back then). But, he didn't. He told me he would definitely contact his sister for me and see what he could do.
For days after, I listened to the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show from beginning to end. I laughed, I listened to some of the stars that had started to call in, and I waited. Steve Guttenberg called in. Macy Gray called in. Ludacris called in. And a few others, that I don't recall right now.
Then, the last day of the contest arrived. My heart sank. Had Pake been able to reach Reba? Was she willing to do it?
I got my answer just a couple of hours later.
While listening to the show, they announced that the one and only Reba McEntire had called in. They asked her who she was calling in for, and she gave them my name. I felt a rush of adrenaline run through me... this was it! She shared how she'd gone to school with my ex's mom, and they asked questions about what she was up to and she shared about her albums and TV show. I couldn't really tell you anything she said, specifically, because I was too busy waiting with anticipation for the contest to end.
After her interview, they decided to close the contest. They narrowed down the choices to Steve Guttenberg, Macy Gray, Ludacris, and Reba. While all famous in their own right, Kidd brought up the fact that it had to be the most famous of them all. Kelly Raspberry then suggested that if Kidd was to walk in to a grocery store with pictures of all four...and showed them to people of all ages... which picture would be the most recognized. I knew I'd won at that moment. Before they even announced it.
Not even ten minutes later, I was on the phone with Kidd Kraddick. My whole office team had surrounded me for support, and to listen to what he had to say. He congratulated me on my win. Told me I had won a trip to California for five days, with a guest. I would be put up in the swanky Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica. I would receive $500 to cover expenses. I would be taken to the live recording of the show (with the three finalists) and the results show the following evening.
To say I was beyond thrilled would still be an understatement.
I decided to take my mom on the trip. It was the season of Clay Aiken, and she adored Clay. We had our trip, and had a blast. I got to meet Steve Guttenberg who just happened to be eating lunch at our hotel the day we arrived. I met and sat next to Ian Ziering on the flight from LAX to Las Vegas (where we were getting a connecting flight). I met Tom Barringer, even though he refused to admit that he was famous or that he was who I thought he was... but that's for a whole different story. I met some of the Idols that had been eliminated, got to meet the family of Kimberly Locke. Got to see Ryan Seacrest standing only a few feet away from me...and Simon, Paula, and Randy.
It was AWESOME!
On the last day of our trip, the phone in my hotel rang at 6:30AM. I bustled out of my sleep and answered my phone. There on the other end was Kidd Kraddick. He wanted to do a last day interview and find out all about the trip.
All I could do was thank him for a wonderful experience. I answered his questions, laughed with him, and thanked him again. He had no idea what the trip meant to my mom and me. It was a dream come true.
The day we arrived home, we found out that Kidd's show had been replaced on our local station with two local DJs. I was devastated. What would I do without my Kidd Kraddick show? I was so angry.. but my anger soon started to fade away after a few months of listening to my radio without him. I missed him, but what could I do?
Jump forward a few years, and Kidd Kraddick was BACK! The local DJs had moved away and they had brought Kidd's syndicated show back to us in NW Arkansas.
It was like being reunited with an old family member.
Every day I listened to his show. Every day I laughed my butt off as he cracked jokes with Kelly, Big Al, J-Si, and Jenna. Sometimes so much so that tears would well in to my eyes as I was trying to drive. Dangerous!
But there was never a morning I didn't have him on in my car. I could pick his voice out from anywhere.
This past Saturday night, while doing my usual Facebook stalking, my heart fell in to my stomach as I saw the news release about the passing of Kidd Kraddick.
Since that time, I've been grieving. A complete stranger. No more than just a radio host. Tearing up over his name, reading every story I can about what happened, and listening to the show put on yesterday morning by the gang...without him.
But, he wasn't a complete stranger. He wasn't just a radio host.
Even though I never met him, I had spoken to him on the phone. Even if I hadn't.. I'd still feel like I knew him. I grew up listening to him. He was able to put a smile on my face on the days that were tough. No matter what I was going through... a few minutes of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning made things better.
And now he's gone.
He will always hold a special place in my heart. For helping me do something I never would have had the means to do. For brightening the worst of days. For dedicating himself to Kidd's Kids. For just being a truly amazing person.
So, I say... Goodbye Kidd Kraddick.
May you rest in peace, and forever know the joy you placed in to so many hearts.
Your memory and spirit will live on....Always.