Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Just an update...

Another blog that’s been too long since the last one. I’m sorry about that. It’s been a blur lately and I’ve had a hard time making sense of things.

We can start with the obvious. We are trying to keep KKITM a show that Kidd would be proud to have his name on. It’s a lot different these days. I’m not saying different is bad. It’s just different. I had 14 years to “get” Kidd. And I think I had the man down pretty well. Now I’m trying to “get” the flow of a show without Kidd. Honestly, I think we’ve been doing a pretty decent job. Of course I’ve screwed up about 700 times already, but I’m trying and I can assure you that the other people in that studio are trying, too. Just be patient with us as we try and find our way in a world that used to have a super fancy, updated, top of the line navigation system built in. Now we are driving with a Mapsco, but as a team we are going to find a way.

I guess all I can really say is that the messages of love and support have been completely overwhelming. And that’s putting it lightly. The truth is that none of us or anyone else could ever fill Kidd’s shoes. That’s not what we’re trying to do. Kidd was a visionary in the radio industry. There are some radio sites that have tributes written about Kidd and how he has changed the entire path of morning radio. I knew he was great at what he did, but I didn’t understand the depths of it until after his passing. So now that the show carries on, all we can hope to do is follow the lessons that he taught us. We all knew that Kidd would retire one day, but we didn’t know that he would suddenly pass away. So while we mourn the loss of our leader, co-worker, and for a lot of us family member, we try and see the light at the end of the tunnel and do a radio show that you still want to listen to everyday. Growing pains SUCK, but they’re a necessary evil. I jut want to say thank you for your continued support of us individually and as a show. We’re gonna make Kidd proud….hopefully while you listen.

I’m going to cuss in the next sentence, so close your eyes or whatever if that offends you. Life has been a shit storm lately. I’m not telling you this because I want sympathy or anything like that. I’m just spelling it out.

Samantha did move to Maui. I still don’t know the words to say that would properly convey my feelings about this. I’m insanely proud of her and Orlando for just doing what their hearts told them to. Find new beginnings. Make new memories in new places without constant reminders of their pain. I know that a lot of people in my world don’t see it that way, but I think that being mad or upset with them for going is selfish and mean. They lost their baby. And for them every place they go here in Dallas sparks some memory made with Ethan before he passed. Which is comforting to some degree, but it just keeps the wound open just enough where it refuses to heal. They weren’t happy. There was pressure on them to have another baby. Again, not fair for anyone else to tell them that having another child would make them happy again. Ethan cannot be replaced. And implying that getting pregnant will fix everything is pretty much setting the groundwork for the thought that he could be replaced. That’s an unfair position to put them in. They will have another baby if and when the time is right for them. In the meantime, they’re enjoying their once in a lifetime opportunity to dive in headfirst. Do what feels right and live their lives for themselves. Sam and Orlando aren’t anybody’s parents. They owe nothing to anyone. So hostility about their choice to leave doesn’t set well with me. At all. And I won’t hear it. Yeah, I’m sad because Sam and I are really close. While moving to Hawaii with them sounds like a fantastic idea, truth be told I couldn’t even afford to have my car put on the ferry over there at this point. I have to get my crap together because the crap that I’ve allowed to weigh me down for so long is doing just that. Weighing me down. Making every move painful and stress filled. I had decided in my head to follow Sam and Orlando’s lead and do what I needed to do for me. But I guess the universe wasn’t aligned with my thought process and now I have to reevaluate. I guess certain things just weren’t meant to be right now.

Long story short…I’m proud of Samantha and Orlando for following their hearts. Taking the time to heal. Gaining distance from the pressures that only add stress to their already heavy hearts. Unfairly.

I asked last week for prayers for my friend BJ Reynolds. He was in bad shape. I won’t get into the specifics, but he had to be put into a coma and had brain swelling and a whole bunch of stuff that was awful. I went to the hospital last Tuesday to see him and it will forever be etched in my brain. I got a text saying that BJ passed away around 7:15 on Thursday night. That just so happened to be during the Concert for Kidd’s Kids. Bad timing to say the least. I called his dad immediately after I got the text just to hear his voice. I know he’s not OK. I know that he doesn’t care how sorry I am that I wasn’t there at the hospital when it happened. He told me the one thing that I’ve talked about not wanting to hear before. He’s in a better place. But it’s different this time. BJ really is in a better, pain free place. He’s struggled so much over the last 4 years and was living on life support, sustaining more brain damage every day. Had he been able to sustain his own life, he would have been a vegetable. He’s not that guy. So for the first time I truly do believe that he is in a better place. He will be missed by me and many others, but thank goodness BJ’s family has a super awesome support system to help lift them up. I’m so proud to be able to call BK, his dad Jerry, ad step-mom Kelly my friends. And as of last week, my two newest heroes.

Strength can be hard to find sometimes. Some of us can lie in bed for a week because we got dumped by a boyfriend of a month. Or because we didn’t get the promotion or pay raise at work. But to have to plan memorial services for your child is the ultimate in down. I’ve had to see my sister and brother-in-law do it. They both know how highly I hold them in regard. And now BJ’s parents fit in that same category. Jerry told me that he felt OK leaving the hospital when I was there visiting BJ in times past because he was my bud. If you don’t know BJ, here’s how I describe him. He’s kind of the brother I never had. We would call each other names and he took drunken videos of me saying inappropriate things. I didn’t worry about them because I trusted him 100%. I told Jerry and Kelly that I knew that if I had driven 45 minutes away to go out, got drunk, called BJ at 4AM and asked him to come pick me up 45 minutes away…he would do it. No questions asked. And he wouldn’t try to take advantage of my drunk lightweight ass. He was just that guy. Those kinds of people don’t cross my path very often. So I feel blessed to have been able to call him my friend and now I’m just as proud to call his parents my heroes.

Amber has been my rock through all of this.  And I know that’s been hard on her because we live so far away from each other. But she has been by my side, wiped my snot, dried my tears, and made me get up and do something. She wasn’t going to allow me to fall into the hole that I did when my Ethan passed away. I would do the same for her, but that’s always been me. I am a caretaker. I’ve not been one to allow anyone else to hold me up when all I wanted to do was fall. But I let it happen with her and I think that God is smiling down on her for being able to withstand my weight.

On a lighter note, what do you guys think of the show? Constructive words, please. What do you love about it? What could be better? Please don’t take this as an opportunity to be rude or hateful because I will just delete your post. Please give an honest answer of what you think needs to happen in order to keep KKITM alive in a fashion that Kidd would be proud to have his name on.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

It's been a while...and a lot has happened

This is another one of those things where I don't know what to say. There's no right place to start. I've known Kidd my entire adult life. He started on the radio in Dallas in 1984 or 86. I was either 3 or 5 years old. So basically I've at least known of him my whole life.  He was not only my boss, but also like a dad to me. He taught me everything I know in the only skill I truly have. But it goes deeper than that. He has offered support to me at times I needed it the most. He taught me that celebrities are human, too. He cried with me when we lost Ethan. He had compassion that I never expected from a guy I grew up listening to. In one form or fashion, Kidd has been part of my world for most of my life. He and Kellie were my heroes. I was that person who would email and ask to just come watch the show. I never got a reply, but it meant so much just to express my admiration for them and the work they did. It was my dream to produce for Kidd and I did that. I got to be Kidd's extra set of hands. I learned his brain and I can tell you the man was brilliant. He was a perfectionist to a fault. When it came to this show and serving our listeners, satisfaction was impossible. Which can be tough at times when all you want to do is please the guy you've looked up to for so long. I believe that Kidd played an enormous role in molding me into the person I've become. I don't know if that's anything he would brag about, but I think I've come a long way in the past 14 years. I've seen the work that goes into all of the giving that Kidd has done. I know that the perfection he demanded was because he wanted to make the world a better place. He was tireless in putting together a staff who shared in his vision. We all fed off of his enthusiasm. I know that I went from a selfish 17 year old girl to one of his "go-to" girls. I learned to want to give to others. I learned to love. I was given the chance to form relationships that never would have otherwise happened. To think that Kidd brought people unlike anyone else into my life is something I will be forever grateful for. Kellie Rasberry has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember and now she's more than that. I can say that I truly love most of my co-workers. Some of them haven't been there very long, so saying that I love them is a lie. Kidd would be pretty pissed if I lied about that. 

As in every relationship, we had our ups and downs. We're human. That man knew my buttons and took no shame in pushing them. But he also knew when I needed a hug and to hear "I love you, Shanon." Kidd was always a girly man with emotions both on and off the air. Like I said we did have a couple good cries together. But he also showed me a world I would have never seen otherwise. He taught me to lighten up a little bit. If you knew me in my younger years, you know what a big deal that is. I've always been one to internalize stress. Let it build up and consume me to the point of daily migraines. That's no way to live! So when I turned 17 and started in radio, I learned to laugh. I learned to accept the good with the bad. And you know what? Sometimes you could take the bad and make a bit out of it. Sometimes those bits end with you being detained by the police. I would have never been in the back of a cop car had it not been for Kidd Kraddick. 

Kidd personified perfectionism when it came to Kidd's Kids and KKITM. To the point that I would walk out of that studio some days and just bawl because I didn't want to let him down. Some days I would cuss  him the whole ride home. It's usually been a pretty short drive. For a few months it was a longer drive. And some of those I won't forget. 

Like when Taylor Swift was in town. The DAY OF the show Kidd tells me he wants an interview with her. Really?? I'm supposed to just pull back stage access with recording approval three hours before she takes stage out of my ass? Kidd's answer was yes. Get it done. So I did. I had Ethan that day. He didn't need no stinkin' shoes to meet Taylor Swift!! So I loaded him up in the car, called Kidd, and off we went to the American Airlines Center in Dallas. If you've ever been in the car with Kidd, you know he's that guy who swears he knows where he's going, but in the end will be late because he sucked at directions and got lost whenever something shiny would distract him. Impossible. But we got it done. Little Ethan in a stroller sitting there while Kidd was the only area jock to interview her. And I made it happen. And he was happy. So I was proud. Stressed beyond words, but still proud. 

Then there was Ben Folds. Kidd's idol. And Ben came to town for a show and Kidd wanted him in studio. But it's freaking Ben Folds! He only plays one brand of baby grand piano. Which we weren't gonna pay to rent, have delivered, or tuned. Or picked up. From our studio with average width doors. That sits below street level. But we made it happen. Ben came in and once again Kidd was happy. So I was proud. 

I could get into the times we completely blew the opportunity to break an artist. The record label BEGGED us to debut "I Kissed a Girl." Kidd wasn't into it. Or Lady Gaga. But he did give in when I gave him Justin Bieber. Thank goodness. There were just so many high five moments that we shared along with probably just as many I wanna punch you in the throat moments.

To say that I have no idea where this life is going to take me next is an understatement. I don't know. I know that I'm still surrounded by talented people who have been around way longer than me. And I think J-Si is meant to host a show. Honestly, we get each other.  Someone sent me a message that said that the dynamics between Kellie and me makes them feel like they're listening to genuine best friends. Since I'm rarely on air anymore, that meant a lot to me. 

We had a meeting yesterday to try and figure out where we go from here. And as far as I am concerned, I don't know. I feel like I was Kidd's right hand man. I got him. I could tell what direction he was going with a bit before being told. I could write in a way that he was comfortable with reading my stuff verbatim. Or reading none of it cuz I sucked that day. It happens. 

When I first started with the show, Kidd's Kids was already a big deal, but it was still growing. And honestly I probably would have just been in the way had I gone on the trips. But I wanted to so bad. I wanted to see Kidd's vision come true. And the year for me to go on the trip finally came. I was excited and terrified all at once. It is an experience unlike anything else. Exhausting is putting it lightly. It's emotionally draining from one extreme to the other. I remember getting on the bus from the airport and immediately bonding with Emma Elizondo. She sat in my lap and made me feel like I was where I was supposed to be. Another moment I will never forget. Most people expect the trip to be kind of a sad thing. A big group of people moping around Disney World because of their less than ideal situation. That's not the case at all. Of course there are moments of happy tears. And yeah a few sad ones. But I've learned first hand that the trip is life changing for those kids and their families. I've become pretty close to a few families and I can tell the impact of the trip by their enthusiasm to support Kidd's Kids and ensuring that the trips continue to go on. No matter what happens with any of us. 

The fact that we have been able to devote one single 4 hour show per year to raising money for that years trip is huge. What makes it huge is that you guys put your faith in Kidd and us and the organization and somehow donate almost a half million dollars every single year. And I do not doubt that Kidd's reputation was the reason for the trust in giving your money. But it goes beyond that. Like I said earlier, a big part of overall success is surrounding yourself with people who share and support your passion. If there is any skill I could say that Kidd was brilliant at...outside of his on-air skills, that would be it. He put together a rock solid crew of people who work their asses off to make that man proud. I feel like it's important to give credit to those people because, at the end of the day, all of us banded together were a big part of Kidd's success. 

Kellie Rasberry is truly unlike anyone else. Seriously. She keeps you on your feet in conversation. She's witty and funny and insanely talented on the mic. But off the mic, her greatness continues. She is sort of the conscience of what happens in the studio. She's not afraid to say that a topic of conversation needs to end. She's got a 6 year old, so she can walk a mile in parents shoes and be the gatekeeper for right and wrong. And to be able to stand up to Kidd took gall. She's got it. She's the epitome of the talent I wish I could be. She makes me want more for myself. She's my hero. 

Big Al Mack. His story is a lot like mine in the fact that we've not played the typical radio game of getting hired and fired and moving to every small town station that would hire us. We both started with Kidd. And it's not lost on either of us that we've been really lucky in that area. Big Al has a heart of gold. Seriously. When he remembers to use it. If his head was on par with his heart, he would be unstoppable. But it's not. He forgets stuff five minutes after it crosses his  mind. Which is admirable In the sense that he's not that guy who holds a grudge. I've done stuff that he should have been really upset with me for. But he shows me that happiness comes with the ability to let it go. Why fill your heart with wasted energy. His sense of joy in life is one that I admire. He gives it up for the show. He's just a great guy. 

J-Si Chavez is what I consider to be a real man. He's true. He will cry when he needs to. When I see him with his son, Cason, it makes me truly happy. He and Kinsey are doing everything right. I seriously believe that. J-Si is a talent that's going to just explode one day. Seriously. His stories are ones that people want to hear. He's compassionate and just has a spirit that cannot be matched. I feel like I've kind of gotten to watch him grow up. Even though I'm really not that much older than him. If I need to talk to someone in confidence, I can go to him and trust in that. I cannot say that I trust many people in that way. Especially guys. But I love him, Kinsey, and Cason like they're my family. Mostly because they are. 

I could go on and on about the rest of the staff. Of course I believe that I'm the absolute best at what I do. That's not arrogance. It's fact. I'd have been fired a long time ago had Kidd not agreed with that. 

You've got Jenna who keeps up with celeb gossip. Kellie does the same. And she's a celebrity apologist. So she brings those stories and does a beautiful job of making it personal to her. That takes skill and she's got it. 

The big bosses have held it together this past week in an effort to make Kidd proud. You know he took some headphones up into heaven with  Him to listen to last Mondays show. I hope he was proud. White Cheddar is the go to guy with ideas and planning and doing production that fits. Rob Chickering has told us all that we can only do our best in all of this. And yeah we are probably going to screw it up. But what is the right way to handle it when you've suddenly lost your leader? We are all trying our best to continue to build Kidd's legacy of greatness to the best of our ability. George Laughlin is the fearless CEO with the biggest job in trying to keep it all together. And the production crew is at the top of their game. Greggles and Trey bust ass every single day to give us the best audio for the show. Nick Adams is the man behind KiddTV. He's grown leaps and bounds since he first started and is another one I'm proud to watch grow. Dominique Williams has put together our website. And I can tell you with 100% honesty that it's not an easy task. Kidd made no secret about his love for technology and he rode Dominique until she have him exactly what he wanted. Greg Jake manages our affiliate stations and I cannot even pretend to know everything he's been dealing with in the past week. Russface is the social media guru and marketing guy. He gets his job done with russface in tact the while time. Lacey has been on the phones. She's been a sounding board for listeners who wanted to send condolences and share their stories. I'm sure that's draining. But she gets it done and comes to check on me at the end of the day. 

I know I'm not including everyone. But there are currently people in the office who could be bath salt face eaters and I wouldn't know it. I can't really specifically praise what I don't know. So to those guys I say great job on whatever it is you guys do. I still want to jack their fancy computers.

I know this isn't all about Kidd, but I feel like we are extensions of him. I was so touched when his brother, Gary, pulled me aside to thank ME for being a huge part of Kidd's success. That's a huge compliment to me. Kidd's brother Lynn is supposed to be texting me at some point so we can stay in touch, but I'm still waiting. I know without a doubt that Kidd is smiling down on and beyond proud of his daughter Caroline. She is a first class young woman. The service we went to yesterday was beautiful. I know it wasn't an easy task in planning the memorial of Kidd. But that girl did it and she did it well. I've not gotten to spend a lot of time with Caroline. She's kind of a big deal and stays busy. But I don't need countless hours spent with her to be proud of her. She's got the eloquence beyond anything I've ever witnessed. I'm so so proud to know her and know that she will certainly do her part to keep Kidd alive. 

This sucks. There's no way to sugar coat it. And as in every situation like this... People say "he's in a better place now" or "at least he's in no pain." When it comes to me, I say keep that stuff to yourself. I know intentions are good and that is appreciated very much. But like Kellie said on Mondays show...he didn't suffer. There wasn't a long painful experience he went through. And while I know he's in heaven...hopefully holding hands with my Ethan and reminding him of the love I have for him and how badly I miss him...Kidd was fine here. He made lives better just by talking. He changed the world as I know it with some once in a lifetime experiences. He touched thousands of families with chronically and terminally I'll kids. His skills as an entrepreneur were beyond words. He was innovative and wouldn't let the fear of the unknown stop him. He embraced who he was and found a way to use those things to make memories for all of us. Who else do you know that would go on And on about being short enough to need a booster box? That's just who he was. I never have not will I ever again meet another man like him. I've been so blessed to have him in my life personally and professionally. I have no question about that. And in the past few days I've realized the impact that I made on Kidd's life. Apparently he talked to his family and friends about me because many of them had a lot to say to me about conversations he had with them. That's the biggest compliment ever. Kidd was happy with and loved me. 

And that makes me proud. 

Here's one of my favorite pics of the show from our Battle of the Sexes cooking competition. And the bottom one is my Ethan backstage while Kidd interviewed Taylor Swift. And please forgive my typos. THis blog wasn't exactly an easy one to write.