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A Kid’s Take On Kidd: How Kraddick Gave This 11-Year-Old A Soundtrack

It was a summer night in 1984. I was 11 years old. My family and I had just finished packing the car for our annual summer trip to visit relatives in Mexico. Duran Duran had released its hit single, “The Reflex,” a few months earlier. I was a huge fan of the band, so I was ecstatic when I learned the song was number one that night during the top 10 at 10.

It got better. Kidd Kraddick, who had started working as the night disc jockey on KEGL that same year, decided to play the song again. And again. And again.

As we headed south on I-35, "The Reflex" blared through the speakers. I made my dad keep the radio tuned to that station for as long as we could hear it. I don’t remember how long the song kept being replayed, but it seemed like forever.

That night, I thought Kidd was the coolest and funniest DJ ever for playing my favorite song over and over again. My parents, on the other hand, were probably relieved when we finally lost the radio signal.

When I found out Kidd was going to make an appearance at Valley View Mall in the mid 1980s, I asked my older sister if she could take me. Like other teenage girls at the time, I had a silly crush on the young DJ with the boyish face and voice and wanted to meet him. I only managed to see him from a distance that day.

Over the years, I tuned in to listen to Kidd because he knew how to make listeners laugh. Yes, there were plenty of immature jokes and pranks. But he also could be endearing. I would smile as I listened to a regular feature about his little girl called Bath Time with Caroline. I was saddened when he announced on the air that he and his wife had split. And I’d often tear up when I heard the stories of the children he touched through his Kidd’s Kids charity.

Years later, after I’d moved to Florida to begin my career as a newspaper reporter, a childhood friend of mine in Texas called asking for a favor. Kidd and his morning crew were having a contest. The listener who could get someone who lived the farthest away to call in would win a big prize.

I don’t remember what that prize was, and I’d nearly forgotten about this until my friend reminded me of it Saturday night when we heard about Kidd’s death.

Coincidentally, I was with several of my childhood friends who grew up listening to him that night.

“You talked to him, remember?” she asked me.

It was a brief conversation and I don’t recall what exactly I said or what he said to me. But I do remember laughing and thinking how silly I was to play along. Then again, that’s just the kind of thing you did when you listened to Kidd.

I never met him, but many of us felt like we did. And now we all feel like we’ve lost a cool Kidd we knew.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.