When I approached Kraddick with the idea of putting him on the morning show, he was eager to start right away. He was probably about 23 at the time. I started the wheels in motion, but got resistance at every turn. My team members didn't like the idea, my consultant was against it, and everybody told me I couldn't put a night jock on mornings because we'd sound like a teen station.
I went back to Kraddick and told him we were going to do it anyway, but he needed to step up to the plate and win women. We talked strategy, which included immersing himself in the culture of soccer moms. No more could he do teen relatables -- he needed to understand the life and hard work of a mom. He agreed, and we went on the air. The market went nuts. Our competitors slammed us at every opportunity, our advertisers canceled, the local newspaper told us we were crazy. When we got that much resistance, we knew we were on to something.
Dave and I met for lunch every day to debrief his show and develop ideas. We developed ideas, promotions, and anything that would draw attention to the show. Dave burned the candle at both ends. Unlike so many air personalities of the time who were mostly interested in women, drugs, and booze, Dave was always focused. He was driven to win. He did hours of show prep and worked 12- to 15-hour days, seven days a week. In spite of resistance from the market, Dave and I were determined to prevail. We both had something to prove. I had put the station on the line over this decision. He needed to show he could win as a morning guy.
The ratings came in, and the results were disappointing. We saw some growth, but not much. Dave was devastated and I was disappointed. The team, who had grown fond of Kraddick, were disappointed too, but some were still convinced it had been a bad decision. I was faced with another big decision: Did I believe this kid on the morning show could work? I knew the station and our credibility were at stake, and I was encountering even more resistance. Dave was ready to quit; he had a standing offer to go back to nights at K96. Some on my team suggested we move him to nights and find a new morning show. But I wasn't ready to give up, and gave Kraddick my commitment to stick with it another year. It worked.
Our station was disadvantaged with a weak signal that missed the northern parts of the market, about 30 percent of the ratings area. In spite of that, we soon came back with a very strong book, and our morning show was in the top three, right behind KSL and local morning legend Tom Barberi. We had leaped over everyone else. It was the encouragement we needed, and we continued, with our next goal to beat these two powerhouses. Someone had calculated that had we covered the whole market, we would have probably been number two. But we knew the signal would require us to win by a huge margin to be number one. Though we gave it our best shot and we continued to grow, we never got there.
Dave Kraddick entered my office one day with his head hanging down. It was time to move on. He knew our signal problem meant he'd never get a win, and he needed a win for his career. He had accepted a job in Dallas with KEGL and programmer Joel Folger. It was the career move he needed. He went to Dallas doing the night show, knowing he would have to build audience and prove himself again and convince them he could do mornings.
I remember Dave telling me that he would one day beat the legendary Ron Chapman as the top morning show in Dallas. He studied Chapman, ran tape on him, and tried to figure out his formula. He was like a good football player who studies the game tapes. Based on the work habits and drive I saw from Kraddick, I knew he would win Dallas, and, of course, he did.
Like me, Dave was raised by an entrepreneur father, and his work ethic was unlike any air personality I had ever seen. He was strategic, a promotional genius, and the hardest-working guy I knew. He taught me lessons about how to win.
One never stops to think about someone like Dave, who was young, healthy, and active, dying so suddenly. It's a sad day personally, a sad day for those of us who became a family in Salt Lake, and of course a sad time for his family, the city of Dallas, and the 75 radio markets running his show, and a huge loss for the radio industry. Passing so young is so sad, yet Dave lived large, touched more lives than most of us ever will, and raised money with his charity, Kidd's Kids. Kidd Kraddick never threw away an hour. He was driven with purpose, and he made a difference.
As I sit here in shock writing about a fallen brother while surrounded by my family, it's a stark reminder that we will all see that day when the trumpets sound, and we leave all too soon, no matter what age we are. The time we devote needs a purpose, and if we all gave our families and our work the energy, drive, and effort to be the absolute best, with no exception, we too will have lived well.
I'm a better man for having known Kidd Kraddick.