Straight From the Mouth

The Morning Mouth's March interview with Kelly Ford
(Reprinted by permission; Copyright © 2010 Talentmasters Inc.)

We last interviewed you about three years ago. Lots has change with the show since then. How, if any, has this changed the overall show?

A lot. A show is more than one person. It's how unique personalities mesh. When you change the ingredients and the recipe tastes a little different.

Who else does the show with you now?

Rider. He joined me about 6 months ago.

You're a rather unusual country morning host. First off, no topics are off limits, right? Sex, relationships, weird news, etc. Is there any place you won't go?

I'm interested in real. And the truth is when I'm at a cookout or a bar with family and friends, NOTHING is off limits and I try to look at the show that way. I think ANYTHING can be funny...even politics and religion. I can't believe some of the stuff I've said. I think as long as there's as there a wink in your eye you can get away with just about anything. And in my case I've been part of the morning show so long our listeners know what I'm about.

Have consultants ever gotten on you about complimenting the rest of the station?

I've never had to much trouble being in sync with the goals and the mission statement of the station. I get who we are, who we wanna be and where we wanna go. I'm not sure how people think having an adversarial relationship with management would be beneficial for anyone. I pick my battles.

How many years now at KYGO? You had one brief departure,

Do we really have to put a number on it? I try not to think about it because then people start doing the math. I think this is my 18th year. I started in 1990 a couple years out of college. I gotta say it's kinda cool when a 30-year old comes up to me and says he listened to me on KYGO when he was in middle school. I said kinda. I did try talk radio for two years in the mid 90's. I would love to do it now. It wasn't a good fit then.

If a syndicator came to you and said they wanted you to help them create a perfect weekend show for you, what would you suggest?

I would call it the Kelly's Konfidential and get people to really spill and be real. It would be almost exactly what I'm doing right now except with more time to flush things out. I love figuring out what motivates people/celebs and makes them tick. I think it's the repressed hairdresser or therapist, but you wouldn't believe what @#%* they tell me. And I eat it up. I like to tease and be teased and that usually immediately breaks down barriers and makes people feel comfortable with me. If they hold back, I'll hook up to my Kelly-graph BS detector. I really am one of those annoying loves people kinda people. I try to put myself into situations where crazy stuff happens and it usually does.

Although happily married, you're not one of those host that spends a lot of time discussing your own relationship. Is that by design?

Let's put it this way, I don't lean on the married with kids thing. It's a part of who I am and if somehow it connects to the conversation AND moves the conversation forward I talk about it. But a little bit goes a long way. But frankly I'm bored with men or women who make their relationship or their family their whole identity. I'm bored with anyone who makes one thing their whole identity. I think radio people get too wrapped up in themselves and forget that people listening are asking "what's in for me?" They want you to make them feel something. Plus, people have a fantasy about you and if you keep bringing your spouse into the conversation it's a buzz kill. You gotta leave a little mystery.

Do you and your husband ever sit at the table and talk about what you did on the air that morning?

the best talent coach I've ever had. He's in television and has a good entertainment radar and is usually right on the money. Plus as two people in the biz our foreplay goes something like this...."You're so great," "No, you're so funny." Followed by..."That was a great tease, now make it PPM friendly and wrap up it up 2 mins."

Where do you find most of your material for each day's show?

Listening, observing life, FB, Twitter, local news.

You're a mom too. Do the kids influence what you put on the radio? Do they ever offer a critique?

I have shifted so dramatically as my kids have gotten older. I used to talk about them a lot more but I wanna protect my relationship with them too. I've got to have someone to visit me at the nursing home. It's probably the most important job I have and makes my life perspective richer but I it's not who I am. Women in particular don't want to hear how adorable my kids are. AND THEY ARE! Very few Dads are exclusively identified as just that. And for a man actually it would be unique because it isn't so common. If I do talk about them I'm being a smart ass. For instance, this week in Denver a car was stolen and the dude didn't realize there were children in the back. I said there's no way he would have made it my car more than 5 minutes with my 3 hellions. He would have stopped the car and dropped them off on the side of because they were driving him so crazy.

Give us something you once said on air that caused a major uproar?

During my talk show stint, my friend Kenny Marx used to come in an hang out with me as often as possible. One day we gave listeners the impression that we thought we had gone off the air. We kept the mikes HOT and for about an hour clunked around the studio and had off mike conversations about people in the office. Also long stretches of silence. We made references to the fact that we knew we were off air so there was no need to answer the phones. Very subtle. Reminds me of when someone butt dials and you listen to the whole thing because there's a potential for disaster. I knew we had pulled it off when Floorwax (a legend in the market) frantically called us on the hot line to warn us that we were REALLY on the air.

Speaking of changes, your hair. Is it just me, or have you gone red?

I have always been a blonde and I just felt like I wanted a change. Freaked everybody out. I guessed I was kinda of surprised that it was such a ongoing topic of conversation in my life. Makes me think I should have shaken things up sooner.

Are you thinking blonde again anytime soon? And just for the record, what color would we find on a high school photo of you?

Yup. I think I'll go back for the summer. Is this a veiled curtain/carpet question? For the record, I was a dirty blond at Sacred Heart Academy.

How about a promotion that killed! One that every morning show would be crazy not to do?

The KYGO Human Valentine was something I came up with and it seemed to touch a lot of people. And that's a great feeling. We did a card stunt on the Invesco Field on Valentine's Day three years ago. Using colored cards we formed a heart shaped American flag with over one thousand listeners. We did helicopter shots and sent the images to the Armed Forces Network. I think when we added it up we were mentioned in over 100 news stories in the U.S. and abroad. It was one of those events that actually had some substantial hard costs and sales wasn't able to find sponsors. I wouldn't let it die and found a very generous member of the community who helped make it happen. I'm so proud of it because I think as creative on air people we face a lot of roadblocks when we want to pull off something spectacular and we give up and settle. If we don't have the passion for a bit, or a stunt, or a promotion do we really think a sales rep or some other suit will? They want the path of least resistance. We have to think big. We have to be extraordinary.

We're so happy you'll be joining us in New Orleans this year for our 22nd Annual Morning Show Boot Camp. You're partaking in a panel of "Women who inspire." Who inspires you? Who inspired you back when you started?

Lou Henson at WLRS in Louisville was a woman ahead of her time and GM of the station. She gave me my first job and inspired me by the way she approached radio in such a businesslike, but fun manner. Lou also had such a big heart and demonstrated how important it is to connect with your community and inspired me to give back as part of the responsibility of being a broadcaster.

What advice do you give to young, up and coming female jocks who want to succeed?

It's totally cliche, but be yourself. Women in particular fall into this trap of being who they think they're supposed to be instead of being real. They're afraid they'll sound stupid, or unfeminine or obnoxious. You will even if you try really hard not to so get over yourself. Now more than ever people (particularly women) smell a fake and you'll never cut through. You'll stay the girl on the show instead of a vivacious woman who has something to say. I recently read an article where Meryl Streep said "I stopped worrying about being appealing a long time ago." The fact is she's more appealing than ever...because she's not wrapped up in worrying about what everybody thinks. I think I hit a new level of female fearlessness when I had a belch off with my producer, Melissa Bunting. Huge response....particularly from men. Who knew ripping a good one was a turn on?

I've asked this question recently and got some pretty interesting answers: Which celebrity guest hit on you? Anyone you kind of fell all over as well?

I'm an equal opportunity flirter so I can't think of one in particular. Usually it's rich old dudes, radio guys at Boot Camp or ComicCon nerds that hit on me. What does that say? Don't answer.

Okay radio has changed a lot in the past few years. What part of this change do you like least? Has there been any positive changes?

What I hate about the PPM is what I love about PPM. It can reward mediocrity and sameness and kill spontaneity. It rewards DJ's but not always personalities. We've become such a master to the clock that nuances of conversation and storytelling are lost. With that said, I have never been a fan of talking until you stumble onto something. I like mono-focused breaks that have forward momentum. I'm hoping that radio will find a happy ground somewhere in the middle soon.

Obviously, you like country music, but what other artist' CD's would I find in your car? Whose music do you turn loudest in the car?

Right now it's Muse. I crank it up on the way to work until my ears bleed. I like the to Rob Thomas, Train, Beyonce, Kings of Leon. I can always default to Coldplay.

Have to ask: heard a lot of guy's takes on Jesse James, Tiger Woods, etc. What's yours?

I think they're both spoiled overindulged brats. Men with too much time and money and their hands. I think people who live just to GET OFF on whatever their stimulus of choice of is usually end up empty and alone. It burns me up when they act shocked and wonder how they got there. As the saying goes..."the smallest 'package' is a man wrapped up in himself."

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