David Kraddick, who grew up in Dunedin to become the high-octane radio and TV host of the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show heard on dozens of U.S. radio stations, died at a charity golf event near New Orleans, a publicist said. He was 53.
The Texas-based radio and television personality, whose program is syndicated by YEA Networks, died Saturday at his Kidd's Kids charity function in the New Orleans suburb of Gretna, said publicist Ladd Biro in a network statement.
"He died doing what he loved," said Biro, of the public relations firm Champion Management, speaking Sunday with the Associated Press. He said he had no further details on the death.
The Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show is heard on more than 75 Top 40 and Hot AC radio stations and is a leader among contemporary morning programs, Biro said. The radio program also is transmitted globally on American Forces Radio Network while the show's cast is also seen weeknights on the nationally syndicated TV show Dish Nation.
"All of us with YEA Networks and the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning crew are heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend and leader," the network statement said. "Kidd devoted his life to making people smile every morning, and for 21 years his foundation has been dedicated to bringing joy to thousands of chronically and terminally ill children."
Mr. Kraddick, whose actual name was David Cradick, grew up in Dunedin and graduated from Dunedin High School in 1977.
His entertainment career, according to a profile on the Dish Nation website, began in the 10th grade.
"We sponsored a big dance for the seniors but didn't have enough money to hire a DJ," he was quoted as saying. "So I snuck out my dad's stereo and did it myself."
Mr. Kraddick spent 2 1/2 years at WRBQ-FM (Q-105) in Tampa, moving from there to stations in Fresno, Calif., and Salt Lake City before landing in Dallas.
The Dallas Morning News reported Mr. Kraddick had been a staple in the Dallas market since 1984, starting in a late-night debut. The newspaper said he moved into morning show work by the early 1990s in that market, and his show began to gain wider acclaim and entered into syndication by 2001 as he gained a following in cities nationwide.
Mr. Kraddick wrote on his Facebook page that his charity had set more than 1,000 chronically ill children to Walt Disney World, "paid for by my amazing listeners."
He would have turned 54 on Aug. 22, Biro said. The network statement said the cause of death would be released "at the appropriate time."
Many fans, celebrities included, tweeted condolences and talked about the death on social media sites.
One Texas radio station where he was a mainstay ran photographs on its website of Mr. Kraddick at the microphone.
Word of his passing spread quickly via social media.
"RIP Kidd Kraddick. You were an amazing man and a friend. You are already missed," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted.
"Oh Man, I just heard Kidd Kraddick died! He's my childhood dj. What a sad day. His poor family. He was always nice 2 me from the beginning," singer Kelly Clarkson tweeted.
Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, recently announced as the headline act of a planned Kidd's Kids charity concert in Dallas next month, wrote: "The sad sad news about Kidd Kraddick is shocking. He will be missed greatly."
Richie Tomblin, described as the head golf professional at the Timberlane Country Club in Gretna on its website, told the Associated Press Mr. Kraddick wasn't looking well when seen getting ready for Saturday's charity event.
"He came out and he borrowed my golf clubs and went out to the driving range," Tomblin said. "It's kind of a freaky situation. He came out. He practiced a little bit. He hit the ball at the first tee and wasn't feeling good and after that I didn't see him."
Tomblin said the hundreds of amateur golfers taking part went ahead with the event Saturday. He added he found out only afterward that Mr. Kraddick had died.
"I'm still trying to figure it out. I really don't know what happened. Everyone keeps texting me asking, 'What's going on?' I really don't know," said Tomblin.
He added he was reluctant to even touch the set of clubs Mr. Kraddick had borrowed Saturday for his practice swings.