Kraddick cast, fans cope as cause of death is revealed

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Dallas-Fort Worth woke to an unfamiliar and heart-breaking sound Monday morning: the sound of radio without the legendary voice of Kidd Kraddick.

In the wake of his death Saturday from what a coroner said was cardiac disease, Kraddick’s vast community of listeners and tight-knit group of coworkers paid tribute to him, while still dealing with the grief and shock of his passing at age 53.

“For the first time ever, we are Kidd Kraddick in the Morning without Kidd Kraddick,” said Kellie Rasberry, who has been Kraddick’s co-host and foil for 19 of the show’s more than 20 years on the air in Dallas-Fort Worth. “I knew what it felt like to be divorced, and now I know what it feels like to be a widow.”

The emotional tribute, which took place as dozens of fans stood outside the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning studios in Las Colinas and hundreds more called into the station, began a day in which new details emerged about the cause of Kraddick’s death at a charity golf tournament in Gretna, La.

A Jefferson Parish deputy coroner said Monday afternoon that preliminary autopsy results show that Kraddick had an enlarged heart and blockages in three blood vessels, ranging from 40 percent to 80 percent.

“The staff at Ochsner did a heroic job to save him,” said Dr. Granville Morse in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. Kraddick was pronounced dead at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Monday’s report is preliminary. The final autopsy and toxicology report are expected to be done by week’s end, Morse told The Dallas Morning News.

YEA Networks, which distributes Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, has not made an announcement about the show’s future. Rasberry said at the end of Monday’s tribute that the cast will take some time off to grieve and that the rest of this week’s shows will be dedicated to best-of moments.

“As soon as we know what’s going on, we’ll let you know,” Rasberry told listeners. “We don’t know what tomorrow holds for any of us, or for the show at this point.”

During the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning tribute, heard on more than 80 stations nationwide, Rasberry and the other cast members -- “Big Al” Mack, Jose “J-Si” Chavez and Jenna Page Owens -- as well as producer Shanon Murphy all shared memories, often with their voices breaking as they told stories.

“Kidd changed my life,” said Mack, a former limousine-company owner who recalled how Kraddick asked him to join the radio show after hearing commercials for the company. “There's a lot of things you can do for a person, but when you change their life, that’s deep.”

Owens and Chavez talked of their last moments with Kraddick -- being on the driving range with him on Saturday, and going out with him on Bourbon Street in New Orleans on Friday night. Murphy shared with listeners the story of her nephew’s drowning, and how Kraddick helped her family financially after the tragedy.

Other DFW morning-radio show personalities paid tribute, too, with their own stories about how Kraddick had changed their lives.

“He helped me learn about the industry that I didn’t know about,” said Troy Hughes, producer of New School With Shan and R.J. on KRLD/105.3 FM “The Fan.” He said during the sports-talk show that he’d worked with Kraddick for seven or eight years, starting as a call screener. “[As a] 22-year-old kid, all I knew was, you talk into a microphone, you make people laugh. He taught me things like imaging, production and how to take pride in your work, especially when it came to Kidd’s Kids.”

Hughes also said that he met his wife when he asked her to the “Second Chance Prom,” a benefit for the charity.

Other radio veterans, including KZPS/92.5 FM’s Bo Roberts and Jim White, KLTY/94.9 FM’s Frank Reed, and KDMX/102.9 FM’s Chris Jagger, paid tribute on the air and on their stations’ websites and social-media sites.

Tony Zazza of KVIL/103.7 FM’s Zazza and Julie show took time off from vacation to honor Kraddick. Zazza recalled his first meeting with Kraddick, which happened when he was living in Stephenville and drove up to the Metroplex to do a story on Kidd Kraddick in the Morning for MTV.com.

“At the time, my dreams were to get a chance to play pro baseball, or finish my degree and go back to San Diego and be a police officer,” Zazza said. “As I sat in that studio with Kidd and his crew, I remember thinking what a cool gig this guy had. ... I remember at that time becoming more and more excited about radio.”

When Zazza blurted out that maybe he should get into radio in Stephenville, Kraddick encouraged him. “It was at that moment in Kidd’s office that I realized that I wanted to do what I’m so lucky to be doing now, and that’s exactly what Kidd got to do, and that’s playing on the radio every morning.”

Rasberry told listeners on Monday that Kraddick’s charity, the Kidd’s Kids Foundation, will continue its works and that this year’s trip, which will take terminally and chronically ill children and their families to Disney World, is still on. A concert benefiting Kidd’s Kids, featuring the Jonas Brothers, Jason Derulo, Andy Grammer and Tim Halperin, is also still slated to take place at 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at House of Blues Dallas.

The entire radio tribute from Monday has been posted at www.1061kissfm.com. Services are still pending.

Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872 Twitter: @rphilpot

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