Waking Up With Kelly K
Local Morning Radio Host Talks 20 Years In the Business
Writer / Kelsey Schneider
Kelly K and her husband, Michael married in October 2006. They have two kids, Jacob and Ava. Their family hobbies include family games, shopping and movies. Kelly says they like to make silly videos and they also love playing with their two pugs, Poppy and Piper.
Kelly explains that her first radio gig was her internship.
“I got into radio at age 19 while a student at Purdue University as an intern (I was majoring in TV production thinking I would do TV news),” she says. “I was voicing commercials the first week, had a weekend air shift in the first month, and was co-hosting the morning show by the end of the first year!”
She says the station was similar to DJX and her internship was where she gained some broadcasting experience.
“My internship turned into being a co-host on a morning show very much like our show now.” Kelly says.
According to Kelly, her internship was the best place to learn the ropes, and she says her first morning partner, Rick Mummy, was an incredible teacher. Kelly met Rick while in Lafayette studying at Purdue.
“Rick taught me so much about comedy and structuring a show,” she says.
The biggest thing she had to learn was to be authentic. “Your audience will know if you are faking it to create some character version of yourself,” Kelly adds.
Kelly’s plan was to be a TV anchor one day and while getting some broadcasting experience, Kelly says she fell in love with radio. She loved entertaining audiences and continued on her path in radio. According to Kelly, after she graduated, her roommate suggested she move to Louisville. Kelly moved to Louisville in August 1996 and began work at MIX102.
“MIX102 was an 80s and 90s format”, says Kelly, 102.3 (formerly MIX102) is where Kelly did middays and became a promotions director.
“The station was purchased a year later, the format flipped and we were all fired,” she says. “Bounced from LITE 106.9 mornings to B 96.5 to HOT104.3 before landing at 99.7 DJX to do mornings with Peter B in May of 1999.”
Peter retired after 20 years with the station and The Ben Davis and Kelly K Show was born in March 2008.
Kelly’s other influencer, both in her personal life and her professional life is Barry Fox, the program director who hired her at WDJX.
DJX was founded in 1984 and has won Best of Louisville in 2000, 2001 and 2017.
“I just marked 20 years doing the morning show on DJX,” Kelly says.
Kelly is one half of the Morning Show, mornings 5:30 am – 10:00 am The Ben Davis & Kelly K Show. Playing ALL THE HITS for Kentuckiana. DJX radio plays hit music and has cool contests.
Kelly has earned several awards, one including her AWRT On Air Personality of the Year award. She is frequently named in the top three Favorite Radio Personalities on the annual Louisville Magazine’s Best of Louisville and year after year in Leo Reader’s Choice awards.
Kelly has recently taken up a job, a “side hustle”, with voice work she does for clients all over the country. She has a home studio where she does commercials that air in many other cities.
Thanks to social media, Kelly says, she and Ben are very interactive with their listeners even after the show airs in the mornings. They use an app where notifications pop-up every time someone interacts with a post on one of their platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Kelly says the listeners end up being a great resource for material.
This is how Kelly and Ben are able to put their show together. Kelly says every morning her and Ben look at a few show prep websites. The prep websites compile all the trending stories into different categories (news, weird, entertainment, etc.). She says she and Ben also watch social media to see what people are talking about. This gives them a plan for every day’s show. Kelly says her and Ben are prepared to go with anything that might pop up in the middle of the show, “it’s planned improv.”
She says that interacting with listeners all day keeps her and Ben invested in their brand. They can comment and respond to questions from their phones no matter where they are.
“I do a lot of that from the carpool line during the school year,” Kelly adds.
Their fans send them stories her and Ben think should be on the show, and her and Ben love that because, as Kelly explains, “it shows how well they know us and the show.”
When asked what the most challenging part of her job is, she says, “The early hours. I’m not a morning person. Never have been. People who say your body adjusts to the schedule are lying. I’ve been doing mornings for 20 years on this show and I curse the alarm every dang morning. That said, once I get here, we have a ball every day. I love every aspect of what I do.
“I’ve always looked at our show as an escape for listeners from their own stress and struggles,” Kelly says when asked about a constant in her career at DJX. “We always try to make you laugh for a few minutes, and maybe turn around what may have started out as a challenging day. We’re not a drama or controversy-filled show. We are fun and silly. That has proven to be a pretty successful philosophy for us.”
When asked who Kelly’s “dream guest” to have on her show would be, she responded, Ryan Reynolds.
“Ryan Reynolds in studio is the pot at the end of the rainbow for me,” she says.
The show has had some pretty big names over the years including Jennifer Lawrence, Will Smith, Kevin Hart and Jennifer Lopez.
Kelly’s favorite radio station to listen to as a kid was U93 and the U Morning Crew in South Bend, Indiana. She says she grew up listening to U93 and the U Morning Crew.
She is a music fan.
“Richard Marx when I was in the 8th grade was my first concert,” she says. “One of the best shows I’ve seen, though, is Ed Sheeran. He was incredible as a one-man show with no band, just him.”