[Updated at 11:20 a.m. CT]
DALLAS – Popular national morning radio personality David “Kidd” Kraddick died Saturday near New Orleans, where he was hosting a golf tournament to raise money for children. He was 53.
“He died doing what he loved, and his final day was spent selflessly focused on those special children that meant the world to him,” according to statement from his nationally-syndicated show.
No cause of death has been officially released. WWL-TV reported Kraddick died sometime after being taken to a New Orleans-area hospital about 1 p.m. CT on Saturday.
Richie Tomblin, a golf pro at Timberlane Country Club in Gretna, told the Associated Press that Kraddick did not look well while preparing to play on Saturday.
“He came out and he borrowed my golf clubs and went out to the driving range,” Tomblin told AP when contacted by phone. “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.”
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that an internal memo from Clear Channel, a communications corporation that had business links with Kraddick, said he died of an aneurysm. The newspaper reported they could not independently confirm the cause.
“I will never wrap my brain around my fathers passing," his daughter Caroline Cradick wrote on Twitter. “Please keep me and my family in your prayers and ask The Lord to watch over my daddy.”
Kraddick, whose legal name was David Cradick, would have turned 54 next month. Based in Dallas, he had been a radio personality in the Dallas-Fort Worth market since 1984 and took his show to syndication in 2001.
According to its Facebook page, his show “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning” is the most listened-to contemporary morning show in the United States. The show is broadcast in nearly 100 markets and is also televised weeknights on “Dish Nation.”
“All of us at KISS-FM, Clear Channel Dallas, YEA Networks and the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning crew are heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend and leader,” his show wrote in the news release. “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.”
Skits and spoofs were a staple of Kraddick's shows. Ironically, Kraddick and his co-hosts did a segment called “Deathbed Confessions” this week, where they playfully played out their final moments.
“Have you ever thought about those last moments of your life?” Kraddick asked his crew during the show. “Nobody wants a long, lingering illness; nobody wants just that; but it would be nice if you could have a day or two where you know it’s coming.”
Kraddick used his time to tease his colleagues on how they would deal with his passing.
“I want to thank all of you guys for being at my deathbed today,” he joked. “I’m going to miss you so much.”
News of Kraddick’s death spread quickly and with great sadness on social media networks.
“I feel like I have lost a family member...” Jessica Hall wrote on Facebook.
“Honestly, Kidd Kraddick would put me in a good mood before I went to school…” wrote Ben Bonatti on Twitter.
“Such sad news,”Annette Marie Flood wrote on Facebook. “My morning drives will never be the same. Prayers go out to both his family and his radio family. Kidd you will be missed by many.”
Several of the online remembrances quoted Kraddick's signature sign off: “Keep looking up, cause that's where it all is.”