Sunday, July 28, 2013

"...And If He Were Here Today, I'd Salute His Philanthropy Even As I Changed The Station...."

Coming up, kats and kiddies, rockers and rollers, something classic from Billy Joel.

But, right now, breaking news....

(CNN) -- David "Kidd" Kraddick, whose morning radio show aired in nearly 100 cities, has died. He was 53.

He died Saturday in New Orleans at a golf tournament to raise money for his Kidd's Kids Charity, his management company said.
What killed Kraddick was not immediately known.
"At the appropriate time, we will release more information about the cause of death," said Ladd Biro with Champion Management.
"He died doing what he loved, and his final day was spent selflessly focused on those special children that meant the world to him."
Kraddick is the face behind the nationally successful "Kidd Kraddick In The Morning" show.
He has been named America's Best Radio Personality'; Radio and Records Major Market Personality of the Year; and he won the prestigious Marconi Award for Radio Personality of the Year.
Kraddick said his career as a disc jockey began in high school.
"We sponsored a big dance for the seniors but didn't have enough money to hire a DJ. So I snuck out my dad's stereo and did it myself," he said.
The name "Kidd" wouldn't come for several years though.
He began his career in Miami. And as is common with radio personalities, he bounced around.
Stints in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Tampa followed.
It was in Tampa that a program director gave him the name "Kidd." It stuck.
His career really took off after he moved to Dallas when his morning drive time show went into syndication.
Last week, Kraddick did a humorous segment on what he'd say to his co-hosts in his "final moments on Earth."
"When I die, you have permission to take a bunch of creepy pictures of my body," Kraddick said. "I want to thank all of you guys for being at my deathbed today. I'm going to miss you so much."
Saturday's golf tournament was for his non-profit Kidd's Kids Charity, which raises money annually to send children with chronic and terminal illnesses -- and their families -- to spend five days at Walt Disney World.
"RIP Kidd Kraddick. You were an amazing man and a friend. You are already missed," tweeted entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. readers also shared their memories.
"Such a great guy. I've listened to the show for years," commented Johnny MacNary. "He was always raising money for Kidd's Kids and giving things away. He really had a heart of gold. Mornings in Texas will never be the same. My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues tonight. He really made the world a better place."
First, a little back story in the interest of truth in advertising is required here.
Kidd Kraddick first came across my radar a number of years ago but I wasn't doing A/C, didn't make it a habit to listen to what other on airs were up to (believing, and preaching to others, that imitation is the sincerest form of laziness) and so, as a result, didn't really know his work or have an opinion about it one way or the other.
That opinion came along five or six years ago when I went to work as the program director and morning show producer/host at WMSO MISS 101 in Meridian, Mississippi. MISS was a country station but the Hot A/C sister station down the hallway carried Kidd Kraddick In The Morning and, if only because he was "in the building", so to speak, I heard his show for the first time.
I didn't like it.
Two years later, I took over as operations manager and program director at WRJY WAVE 104.1 and WXMK MAGIC 105.9 in Brunswick, Georgia. This time my primary on air and PD duties were focused on MAGIC, which ran Kidd's show in the morning. So, if only out of managerial necessity, I spent even more time listening to Kidd and his zoo crew.
I still didn't like it.
And I made it my first goal, as program director, to replace the show.
Given that the guy has just died, I realize there's a risk of seeming ungracious by offering up some of the reasons I didn't like the show, but, I like to think that, as an accomplished pro, Kraddick would have, at least, respected my right to my own professional opinion.
So, in the interest of full disclosure and with all due respect, here's the nutshell version.
I think the whole "zoo crew", roundtable style format of morning radio went out of fashion a long time ago. For some years, I've preached that it's too often the on air equivalent of paying a hundred bucks to see a favorite band in concert and then wanting to yell, "HEY! out HERE!" as the players get so into themselves that they turn their back on the audience and play to each other.
Even if I grant that the format can work in the right circumstances, my professional assessment on the content of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning came down to a single word.
Endless self congratulatory, "hey, ya'll, ain't we funny?" segments that, on most occasions, were centered on such cutting edge topics as boobs, butts and/or bodily functions (one segment I personally heard had the gang suggesting to crew member Big Al that the most practical, and cost efficient, material to use to create a toupee' for his receding issue was "the hair from the crack of his ass"...)
Uproarious laughter from the other court jesters naturally ensued.
I'm not a prude and I can bounce blue humor around with the best of em'. But I believe, and have always believed, that scatological silliness is almost without exception one of two things.
A pandering to the very lowest common denominator of the listening audience while failing to grasp that an accidental fart can be funny while armpit noises are just desperate pleas for attention.
A lazy, and sad, use of genuine comedic talent. A talent that David Kraddick obviously possessed.
By this point, some reading this will already be up in arms, ready to defend the Kraddick show and its cast, pointing out the awards and accolades and ratings success.
To each his own.
Due respect, though, we live in a culture that thinks Kardashians and Honey Boo Boos and people blowing snot out of their noses for money because they're told to by Howie Mandell represents the classy standard in entertainment these days.
So, you'll understand if I elect to stay with my original opinions about Kraddick's show.
All of that, though, is professional perspective, at worst, an agreement to disagree about the content of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning and what they did, or did not do, with the talent they had and the opportunity they were given with a national audience.
It has absolutely nothing to do with David Kraddick as a person.
For everything I heard and could glean from it, he was a personable fellow and, obviously, a caring and giving guy, his Kidd's Kids one of the authentic gems in a cultural jewelry box that is too often filled with self serving celebrity zirconia.
And the irony loving poet part of me is especially touched by the poignancy of knowing that he died, not in some fit of laughter from yet another junior high school level joke about rectal hair clubs for men, but on the road, hosting a charity event that was, and hopefully in some form, will continue to raise funds for kids who deserve all the love and attention that can be mustered.
I honestly think the world really can do with a lot less low rent, crotch centered, bar set so low it pretty much lays on the ground "entertainment" like what I heard when I listened to the show called Kidd Kraddick In The Morning.
But the world really can do with a lot more compassionate, giving guys like David Kraddick.
Now, as promised, here's a timeless one from Billy Joel.
"Only The Good Die Young"

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Look At The Bright Side....So Far, The Kardashians Haven't Been Offered A Record Deal..."

Old saying.

"That ain't country".

Still holds true.

But not for the reason you might assume.

In the course of producing a weekly country music program ("16th Avenue" available for listen/download at while having done a fun twenty five-ish years of morning and afternoon shows on country radio, I've spent, and continue to spend, a lot of time reviewing contemporary country music.

Add to that thirty plus years, give or take, of writing, performing and producing country music, including twenty or so of those years spent living and working right in the heart of Music Row and I can make a pretty good case that when it comes to country music, I know a little.

And, of late, I read and hear a lot of grousing about how country music has changed, been re-invented and, to many, been totally disrespected.

Not the least grouse being this piece that I came across on Facebook earlier this week from a blogsite called AllThingsSal.

Ten Reasons Why Country Sucks
  1. There’s this plug in called the Ultramaximizer. It allows you to make everything way louder. Unfortunately, it also removes all semblance of dynamics from the music. It is commonly overused now and it makes the music unlistenable. Even the most quiet passages are loud and in your face.
  2. The guitar is no longer the central musical driver of the music. Now, it is the bass and drums, which are massive.
  3. The music itself has nothing to do with traditional country music. “Evolution?” Sorry, its mostly pop hooks for the American Idol audience, who listen with their eyes
  4. Fake accents make the music sound even more phony. Even in the deep South, humans do not have such a degree of phony drawl.
  5. Song topics have become a pantheon of country clich├ęs—4 wheel drives, Jack Daniels,  Daisy Dukes,  fried chicken, barns, beer, farms, tractors and endless BS about what is country, sung by city boys who’ve never brought in a crop, tamed a bronc,  of even sniffed a fresh-turned acre of land.
  6. Which leaves Nashville with the knotty problem, addressing the dilemma: what do we do with country music when nobody lives in the country anymore?
  7. 7. The “answer” is that “we fake it.” Attach corny country laced lyrics to generic pop grooves and melodies, squash the shit out of them with plug-ins, and sell the swill as the “new” country music.
  8. To add insult to injury, they will take a techno beat and throw fiddle, steel guitar and banjo over it to try and convince the slow minded that they are really listening to country music.
  9. And, I’m sorry, but if you are gonna rap in country, you better have a damn good story to tell. Charlie Daniels did it. Toby Keith? Not so much.
  10.  It is mostly fake get drunk, get laid, drive a truck horse manure. Music needs a bit of substance lyrically and something original to back it up. Today, it is not happening. It is un-listenable and totally undesirable. When I was in high school, I couldn’t stand the get drunk on the weekend crowd, the shallow party mentality or the womanizers. Gee, guess where they all went! It begins with an N and ends in “Ville”.

I don't honestly have a lot to dispute here because my take, give or take a little of this guy's venom, is pretty much in line with what he has to say.

I've written, and broadcast, my two cents on the matter fairly often.

But, for me, it goes off the rail when the time comes to pin blame for what long time, old fashioned country music fans regard as the violation of their sacred cow.

Or the horse they save by riding a cowboy.

What has obviously changed in the past few years is, of course, the style of presentation.

What has not changed in sixty years or so is the primary goal.

The country music business is, was and ever shall be a business.

And successful businesses make money.

A lot of people are buying concert tickets, downloading songs and paying hard earned bucks for albums filled with nothing more, or less, than the music that, for better or worse, tomato tohmahto, is defined, in this day and time, as country music.

A lot of people being defined, put simply, as folks like you and me.

So, feel free to lament the loss of traditional Grand Ole Opry-esque sounds if you will, grimace, grit and grind at the morphing of your favorite, plain spoken, slightly off key singing Nashville troubadour and/or troubadress into a flashy, show biz savvy, AutoTuned perfect pitched celebrity suitable for all occasions, from the Ryman to Letterman to The Voice.

But, in the interest of fairness, if blame you must, then put the blame where it belongs.

Not on those who are merely filling the need that the marketplace indicates it wishes filled.

In terms of what was, it can be rightly said that, today...

That ain't country.

But, the fault lies not with our current country stars....

...but with ourselves, dear Brutus.

Or Billy Bob, as the case may be.