10 Questions with ... Kevin Kline
February 12, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in St. Louis at KMOX before moving to KPNT. I left St. Louis for Springfield, MO at Channel Z. Denver was next at KNRX, then to Nashville for Thunder 94, then to Columbia, MO at The Buzz and then back to Springfield, MO at KXUS. Next stop was Tallahassee, Florida at WXSR, over to Birmingham, AL at WROX and finally to Houston at KKBQ.
1) Congrats on raising $40,000 for the Texas Children's Cancer Center by running 301 miles in seven days! Tell us how the idea for this run started and how it felt to run an average of 43 miles a day!
The idea for the run was based on a report that I had read about a San Diego guy named Mike Sheahy who had been recognized by the Guinness Book of World's Records as having run the most miles in one week by one individual. His mileage was 424 miles, I believe. My coach and I thought it would be possible to beat that and thus claim the spot in the Guinness Book. As it turns out, the record was erroneously credited to Sheahy. It's actually held by a Greek runner named Yiannis Kouros who ran close to 700 miles in one week, so, the record attempt was shot. Fortunately, I didn't want to do the run for the purpose of getting into the book, personal accomplishments aren't why I run. I wanted to find a connection between the original idea (to beat the 424) and our cause of pediatric cancer. We found the connection when we realized that there are 62 pediatric cancer beds at Texas Children's Hospital. I decided to run a mile per bed for 7 consecutive days, which would have totaled 434 miles.
The run was staged on a .75 mile concrete loop that I was to run 83 times per day. We ran the same direction each day and by the 4th day, my right Achilles was giving me problems because of the slope of the sidewalk we were running on. I had to cut back my mileage to make sure that I got at least all 7 days in. When it was all said and done, I was only able to run 301 miles of the scheduled 434 that week.
How did it feel to run 43 miles per day? In the end, disappointing. The first day I ran 62 miles in 13:32, with breaks. Day 2 was 62 miles in 17:43. It went downhill from there until the final day when I ran 31 miles in under 5 hours. I won't say it would have been easy had my Achilles not flared up, but I'm confident I would have accomplished my goal. I will conquer this run someday.
2) What made you want to start Snowdrop Foundation and how can people contribute to your efforts?
Snowdrop Foundation is a non-profit organization that my wife and I created. We received our official IRS 501 (c) 3 status on June 14, 2006. We started it as a 16th birthday gift to a young lady I met on December 15, 2005 at Texas Children's Cancer Center while I was broadcasting on The New 93Q.
Chelsey Campbell was 15 at the time and only given a 10% chance to live long enough to drive a car. Her stage-4 undifferentiated sarcoma was so rare that a successful protocol hasn't been created. Chelsey celebrated her 16th birthday on June 11, 2006, three days prior to Snowdrop's official status recognition.
Our funds go to college scholarships for pediatric cancer patients and survivors, worldwide, and also to continued sarcoma research at Texas Children's Cancer Center. To date, we've awarded 93 scholarships worth nearly $300,000 and have provided nearly $500,000 to Texas Children's for research. Without a paid staff, it's through the diligence of my wife and our volunteers, and the belief in what we do by the community, that we've been able to be as successful as we've been.
Supporters can donate through www.snowdropfoundation.org
3) What made you decide to pursue a career in radio and how did you get your start?
I was raised to be a pro athlete (baseball), and I was fortunate to be good enough to get all of my college paid for. In junior high school though, I had a teacher tell me to at least have a fall back plan. When my alarm went off at 5:55am for my first day of high school, I heard a man on KSHE 95 in St. Louis come on the air at 6am and say, "I don't want to be here today folks. I really don't." I stayed in bed and listened to his whole show and realized after listening to him for an hour or so, that there was no other place he would have rather been. He made broadcasting sound like it was so much fun that I told myself that day that if baseball didn't work out for me, radio was my fall back plan. The man I heard on KSHE 95 that morning, who inspired my radio path, was not only a mentor of mine but is to this day a close, personal friend. His name is JC Corcoran.
When I lost interest in baseball during my junior year of college, I turned my attention in earnest to radio and I've been making a living at it for over 21 years now.
I started in commercial radio as an overnight/weekend reporter on KMOX AM in St. Louis. After 11 months there, I decided that music was where I wanted to be so I headed over to KPNT (The Point) and got my feet wet helping out with the morning show, guesting on the Saturday night show with my friends Joe and John until finally I was given the weekend overnight slot.
4) Tell us what makes the Q Morning Zoo show unique and what's your favorite part about working on the morning show.
I have a couple of favorite parts about working on the morning show. First, it's the freedom we have to be creative and to choose our own content. We're encouraged to be entertaining and to have fun. There aren't many jobs I can think of where your manager is upset with you if you DON'T have fun?
My second favorite part about working on the morning show is the hours. I'm usually out of the office by noon so that gives me plenty of time to get my running in and still leaves me enough time to do show prep before I go to bed.
The worst part of the job is when the alarm goes off at 2:45am.
5) You have worked in a variety of different markets of different sizes. What has been your favorite place to live so far and why?
It's a toss-up between Houston and Denver. My wife and I love Houston. The people are beyond friendly, all major pro sports are represented, winter is typically mild, with no state income tax we get to keep more of the money we earn and our theatre district is top notch.
For pure aesthetics, without a doubt, it's Denver. I'm a mountain person. Can't stand water. I have zero appreciation for a beach, but show me a mountain and my jaw drops in awe while my mind races with questions and ideas. Denver also has all major sports represented and their theatre district is upper echelon too.
6) Who are 2-3 people inside or outside of the business that have been mentors in your life? Why have they have been so important to you?
My first mentor was my father. He wasn't a typical mentor like the kind who shows you what to do and how to succeed. He was just the opposite. His negativity for life and his firm belief that I would never amount to anything was my sole motivation to succeed in anything from the age of 13. It's probably inaccurate to call him a mentor but he was highly influential in my development of the person I am today.
As mentioned above, JC Corcoran was a true mentor.
I have other people I admire, look up to and try to emulate but I wouldn't call them mentors. To me, and I try to live my personal life through his traits, the greatest person to ever live was Sir Winston Churchill. His persistence, tenacity, truthfulness, his leadership, never asking anyone to do something that he hadn't done personally or wouldn't ever do, his statesmanship and his oratorical skills and what he had to overcome to be one of the greatest speakers ever, are characteristics I try to use daily as a person, professional, runner and philanthropist. Sadly, I'll never meet Sir Winston, however, I am friends with his great grandson, Jonathan Sandys so I'm able to hear stories whenever we talk.
7) How have been a few of your favorite artists to interview over the years and do you have any fun stories that happened on the air with them?
My favorite interview is Henry Winkler (The Fonz). He was easy to talk with, full of energy, appreciative of kind words and funny. Really funny.
My first most memorable interview was an in-studio with famed boxing promoter, Don King. My partner, Tim Tuttle had set it up. We're live on the air and there's a knock on our studio door. Tim answers it, and there is Don King standing in our doorway. We had him on for two segments and he let his guard down at the end of the first segment. He became a real person, not the cartoonish promoter that he's known for.
In between segments, his then assistant, Michael Marley told me that "Mr. King is having a great time with you guys. He never does what he just did." Tim and I have always prided ourselves on making people feel at ease during our interviews.
The most surprising interview was an in-studio with LeAnn Rimes. Instant crush! Having never worked in country radio prior to 93Q, I hadn't followed her career and only knew about her when she first broke onto the scene with "Blue". I couldn't believe how beautiful she was. It was a recipe for a disastrous interview though because pretty women and I are an awkward pairing. She was incredible though. Gracious, kind, funny, quick and she played along with my nervousness. Now, we're twitter friends and we'll occasionally message each other. I never thought I'd be an acquaintance of LeAnn Rimes.
My greatest interview moment in radio happened last year when we interviewed Gwyneth Paltrow in support of "Country Strong." I protested because I didn't think anything good could come of this interview. On my Deity scale, there is God and then slightly above Him is Gwyneth Paltrow. I thought that an interview with Gwyneth could only produce two things, neither of which was appealing to me. One, it would show her how aloof I am just talking to her on the phone and two, prove to me that she's actually human and ruin the image that I had created of her in my mind. Was I wrong!
From the outset she was flattered by my "appreciation" of her work and her beauty, and, as part of the "awkwardness of Kevin Kline" shtick, she allowed me to recite a really lame poem I had written for her. At the conclusion of the poem, Gwyneth sighed then said, "Kevin, will you marry me?" Now God strains his neck looking up at Gwyneth.
8) Not everyone can say they have a documentary film about them! What is "Dear Chelsey" about?
"Dear Chelsey" introduces the relationship I had with Chelsey Campbell, how she inspired us to start Snowdrop Foundation and how her record-setting surgery, 27 continuous hours, provided the spark for my endurance running career.
At the end of 2008, I had grown bored with marathons and I wanted a bigger challenge so that I could put myself through more discomfort to illustrate what pediatric cancer patients have to go through on a daily basis just to survive. I proposed the idea to my wife of a solo run across Texas to "take my storytelling to a different level." From Dec. 20, 2009 to Jan. 1, 2010, I ran from Dallas to Waco to Austin to San Antonio to Houston. The run totaled 482 miles and it took 13 days. Each of the first twelve days, I ran for a child I knew that had died from cancer. The thirteenth day was run as a celebration of all children who survive a cancer diagnosis.
The film chronicles the run, learning the story of each child that I ran in honor of and then showing the hardships and triumphs I endured throughout the journey. It's very emotional but in the end, it's a celebration of life and what the human spirit is capable of overcoming. It's available for $20 plus shipping on our website.
9) For someone who is used to being on the radio, who did it feel watching yourself on film?
The first time I watched "Dear Chelsey" I wasn't watching to see myself. I was watching to check out the story, the edits, pacing, basically all of the technical aspects of the movie.
The second time I watched it was with Chelsey's family so I was more concerned about their reaction than I was with seeing myself on screen. I don't think I actually saw myself until about the 25th or so viewing, so by that time the "wow, I'm in a movie" feeling had long been suppressed.
I think Everett Marshall, the director, did such an amazing job with the film, and this was his first film ever, that the focus isn't on me but on the story and the amazing kids and families who have to battle the life-threatening disease of cancer. That's what we both set out to do with the film. It was our goal from the outset. Even now, answering this question, I still don't think of "Dear Chelsey" as a movie about my story.
I remember hearing myself on the radio the first time and I was like, "Hey, that's me on the radio!" I wanted everyone to know that I WAS ON THE RADIO. With "Dear Chelsey," I just want everyone to see it because of Chelsey and the amazing things she accomplished and inspired in her short 16-year life.
10) What can we expect next from you- any more outstanding ultra running goals in the works?
I've always got things in the works. I'm constantly working towards my goal to run a marathon in all 50 states, Washington, DC and on all 7 continents by my 50th birthday. I'm 22 states in and 3 continents down with 8 years to go.
The most exciting offering in the works is another documentary film project that we're currently seeking funding for. We've got some leads but could always use more so if you know anyone who wants to help pony up some money for this next project, have them contact me.
Where "Dear Chelsey" was very emotional, this next project will be inspiring. Here is the concept:
"Beautiful Running" is the movie that finally answers the question, "if they can do it, then why can't I?" Ultra-runner Kevin Kline takes four pediatric cancer survivors, who have had their bodies permanently altered by their cancer treatment, to scenic locations in America as each run their first ever half marathon or full marathon.
The climax of the movie will be a turning of the tables. As Kline was each survivor's support during their race, these four finishers will be Kline's support crew as he solo runs the 457 mile Dempster Highway in the Yukon, Canada. The Dempster is one of only two North American highways to cross the Arctic Circle. The Dempster is the only road that reaches Inuvik, the northernmost reachable city in North America during the summer.
The symbolism of the Dempster run is that when a child beats their cancer diagnosis, they as well as their family and doctors feel like they are on top of the world, which is precisely where these four inspirational cancer survivors will follow Kline to via the Dempster in June, 2013.
With astonishing scenery as the backdrop, "Beautiful Running" will not only inspire aesthetically, but also emotionally through four stories of triumph; four stories of getting a second chance at life and embracing it; four stories of limitations without limits. What could be more BEAUTIFUL?
1) How many miles do you run in a "typical" week and do you have a go to shoe brand you always wear?
It all depends on what I'm training for. Right now, I'm in an eleven week period where I'm running 10 marathons, so my weekly mileage is around 60 miles per week just for maintenance.
Once I get to April, my training will increase significantly since I won't be racing as much because I'll be concentrating on three major races. I'll still throw in some fun runs though, like my May double crossing of the Grand Canyon.
In June, I'm running the Finger Lakes 50K in New York. In July, as an ambassador for the San Francisco Marathon's Worth The Hurt program, I'll run the San Francisco Marathon twice in one day (we start at midnight on July 29 and run the course in reverse from finish line to start line. We'll arrive at the start line for the start of the actual marathon which we'll then run with all the other participants). Then in September I'm competing in the Ultra Race of Champions 100K in Charlottesville, VA.
My base phase or maintenance phase, which is are what I'm in now, are usually around 60-70 miles. For ultra-endurance events, like the 301 miles in December, I worked my way up from 70 to 90 to 100 to 120 to 135 miles in consecutive weeks.
For my regular marathons, I wear Mizuno Wave Inspire shoes. For my ultra-marathons, anything over 26.2 miles, I wear Hoka One One Stinson shoes and for my trail races I wear Hoka One One Mafate shoes.
2) Along with all the running, I know you are also interested in oenology (the study of wine). How did you get into that?
Keith Anderson's brother, Brian, got me into wine. The first time we had Keith in studio with us, he brought his brother Brian, who at the time, was a physicist for NASA. Brian and I hit it off instantly. The more we hung out the more we realized how much we had in common, including a love of wine.
I try to go to as many wineries as I can to learn about their personal processes and also to find hidden gems, little known boutique wineries. My wife and I have been on wine tasting tours in Napa, CA; Mendoza, Argentina; South Africa; the Texas Hill Country and we'll spend some extra time in NY after my June race to tour the Finger Lakes area. Two of my favorites in Napa are Del Dotto and James Cole.
In Texas, check out Pedernales Cellars, William/Chris Vineyards and one of our better known wineries, Messina Hof. In Argentina, where Malbec is King, one of the better mass produced wineries is Navarro Correas and a lesser known winery but one of the best is Vina Cobos Felino.
3) What's your favorite restaurant in Houston and what should we get there?
I don't know if it's my favorite restaurant but it is my place of choice to go. Sadly, it's actually a chain and not locally owned and operated. Yardhouse with its huge beer selection is top notch. I recommend starting with a Deschutes Porter, follow that with an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout and finish the night off with a Young's Double Chocolate Stout for dessert. Oh, you wanted food suggestions? My bad.