At first, it’s hard to be sure if the slender, redheaded woman sitting on the sunlit patio of Toulouse is Kellie Rasberry Evans. She’s a rare kind of celebrity, particularly well known in DFW, but many who know her name haven’t ever seen her face. Hers is arguably the most well-known voice on the radio with a hint of South Carolina sunshine and unshakeable confidence. I’m not completely sure it’s her, not until she starts talking.
“Kellie Rasberry,” she says with a brisk handshake. “Kidd Kraddick Morning Show.” As she browses the menu, she says off-hand, “I’m trying to be good, but it’s so hard,” and tells me that many years ago, when she visited in Paris, she had practically lived on croque monsieurs. She orders one for the “good memories.”
It’s nearing Christmas. We talk about small things, the stitches of daily life. This year she’s celebrating her first Christmas with her new family. It won’t be just her and her 12-year-old daughter, Emma Kelly, but also her husband, Allen Evans, and his three kids. Gift-giving is going to be a challenge. “We try to be fair. The girls are close in age, one of the boys is easy to shop for, the other is harder—it’s complicated. We want to make sure it’s equivalent for everyone and now we need some filler to make up the difference. That’s the hard part.” It’s no small matter to go from being a single mom of one, to the matriarch of a family of six.
Every morning, sleepy commuters tuck thermoses of coffee into cup holders and start their cars to drive across DFW highways to work. For many of us, as well as others all over the country, when the engine rumbles on, so does that familiar eight-note jingle: “106.1 … Kiss FM! The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show!”
Kellie has been the frank, feisty queen of the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show for 25 years this May. Ever since they were nationally syndicated, The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show has garnered loyal listeners from all over the country, tuning in to hear four very different people—Kellie, Big Al Mack, J-Si Chavez and Jenna Owens—talking about celebrity break-ups and make-ups, light news and their own day-to-day lives. They’ve captured the most important demographic for radio: female listeners between 18 and 49.
“We just got our ratings back and they are higher than they have been in years,” she says. “They surged after Kidd died and then leveled off somewhat. But right now, they’re higher than they were even right after Kidd.”
Even if Kellie herself doesn’t ring a bell, chances are, Kidd Kraddick’s name will. A trailblazer in the radio industry, Kidd was a legend and the one who brought Kellie and the rest of the hosts together, creating their genuine alchemy. For 19 years, Kidd and Kellie’s playful bickering was the heart of the show, until his sudden death in 2013. Five years later, tears still come to Kellie’s eyes when she talks about him. Some of the show’s most popular segments—namely, Love Letters to Kellie, in which listeners get love advice from Kellie—were his brainwaves
She laughs, thinking of the early days when Kidd had her giving love advice and keeping a personal diary to read on-air. “Kidd could get anyone to do anything. I’ve been doing [Love Letters] for over 20 years now. At first, I felt like I didn’t know anything about anything. I’m as clueless as anybody else.” But Kidd liked her spirit. She owned her opinions, largely faith-based, and wasn’t shy about sharing them, even when they were controversial. When she listens to old tapes of herself, Kellie is sometimes shocked by her own fire. “They say 10,000 hours of anything makes you an expert?” She shrugs. “At this point, I’m assuming I really am the expert.”
Every letter, read by one of the other hosts, starts the same: “Kellie, you are the love expert.”
“I am,” she always agrees. Then, she sits back and listens to a letter from a fan in need of advice. Once she hears the story, she gives honest feedback. Recently, a woman having an affair with a married man who said he’d leave his wife wrote in for advice and Kellie didn’t sugar-coat her reply.
“What do you want from me?” she demanded. “She wants me to say, ‘It’s working for everyone, so keep doing it.’ So that’s what I’m telling you: Keep on keeping on. But that man is never going to leave his wife for you. Only three percent of married men actually leave their wives. If you’re happy being number two … then keep on.” Picture her leaning closer to the microphone to be heard clearly, her expression firm and unapologetic as she speaks directly to the listener. “If you don’t want my real advice, don’t write a love letter to Kellie.”
“I used to be very black and white in my thinking,” she tells me. “The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve seen the gray. If a couple wrote me for advice and they lived together, my old self would be like, ‘You don’t need to be living together.’ Today, I’d say, ‘You aren’t asking for my opinion on whether or not you’re living together. You’re asking for help with a problem you have as you’re living together.’” Life, she says, has softened her. Though she isn’t one to dwell on the past, Kellie’s love life has been largely public knowledge for 25 years, particularly her seven-and-a-half-year-relationship with her now-ex-husband, the father of her daughter. It hasn’t been a fairy tale.
“It was one of those things where you had to get married to get divorced,” Kellie, who comes from a Fundamental Baptist, “hellfire and brimstone” background, says.
At 40, Kellie became the divorced single mom of a newborn baby. The cast of the show grew up together. Big Al went from a married man to a nightclub owner and bachelor. J-Si became a family man and father. Kellie was happy in her 40s, raising her daughter and dating casually. Only one man in all that time got to meet her daughter, Emma Kelly. It would take 10 more years before she’d meet Allen Evans.
“I’m starting my diet,” Allen said recently on the podcast he and Kellie do together, A Sandwich and Some Lovin’.
“Now he’s gonna start his diet,” Kellie adds. “He ordered French Onion soup, hold the croutons.”
“Why are you mocking me?” he asks, and even when their banter gets heated, the undertone is playful.
“Who holds the croutons?”
“Here’s why Kellie’s mocking me. She’s clearly not on her diet yet.”
“You’re judgey … It’s one thing to be on a diet but judgey dieters are annoying.”
“When am I judgy? Don’t answer that. You know what, we’ve got a family vacation that I need to be lookin’ right for … listen when we go on this vacation, they’ll be able to bounce a quarter off of my abs.”
“Well, they can throw quarters at you. But regardless of what they can bounce off your abs, you’re going to wear a Speedo because that’s your jam.”
“Oh, I’m so going to wear a Speedo.”
Once Kellie decided she was ready to settle down, she approached it with her unique single-mindedness, lining up first dates on Bumble like dominos and knocking them down, one after another. Sometimes she would have five first dates a week. “The right one is out there but they won’t walk up to you and say, ‘I’m the one,’” she explains.
When Allen Evans’ profile first appeared on her screen, Kellie thought he was handsome. So they met at a small local sushi place, where they sat at the bar, side by side and talked. He didn’t know who she was. They kept the conversation light. After a night that was “pleasant, but no bells, whistles or firecrackers,” they didn’t kiss, and parted ways. Later, Allen would tell her that he asked her out again because she didn’t seem crazy or weird. She’d reply that if he hadn’t, she wouldn’t have worried; she already had another date lined up.
“A lot of people mess up because they think if they meet someone and aren’t immediately blown away with butterflies and stuff, then it’s not the right one. But what about just a nice person you’re having a good conversation with? There’s something to be said for that, give that a chance. That’s what we did,” she says simply.
Kellie’s life is an open book, so it wasn’t long before Allen became a character on the show, in part because of his hobbies. “He’s a magician for fun,” Kellie says fondly. “He pulled out his deck of cards on our third date and I was so horrified. Everyone around us was loving it but I was mortified. Now I think it’s cute, everyone likes magic.”
They dated for a month before Allen told Kellie that he was deleting his Bumble account and his other matches. “I said that’s fine. But I didn’t cancel mine just yet. I was still talking to a couple of other guys. Then, after a while, I realized he was the one I’d rather spend my time with.”
A major test for Allen would be dating not only Kellie, but Kellie Rasberry, the Love Expert and cohost of the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show. Not everyone can handle the lack of privacy; even Kellie’s recent routine colonoscopy turned into an Insta-moment to remind everyone that “colon cancer is known as the Silent Killer but it is PREVENTABLE!”
In the early days of the show, before they were syndicated, when it was just Kellie and Kidd bickering on Dallas radio, she learned the hard way that though she’d chosen to be a public figure, her loved ones hadn’t. “There were a lot of stories I could tell about my family because they’d never hear it. I’d be telling the truth, but sometimes the truth is embarrassing. But they’re funny stories, so I wanted to tell them.” She describes a thin line between entertaining her audience and exposing her family to a public they never asked for. With her first husband it was a learning experience. “He loved me talking about him on the radio as long as it was good. We have a fight or something—he didn’t like it.”
As a marketing entrepreneur, Allen doesn’t mind the secondhand fame that comes from being Kellie’s partner. In fact, the A Sandwich and Some Lovin’ podcast is even more open about their shared lives than the radio show. There’s no facade; in a recent episode, Allen got the date wrong—“I wrote a bunch of checks today and they all say the 11th. What’s wrong with me?”— then Kellie discussed the effects of too much Mexican food. Later, they hashed out an entire dispute. Finally, we all learned how their rescue dog, Larry, is not housebroken after all.
“Larry’s dingus is so big,” Allen comments, while they’re on the subject.
“We’ve told you this before, people,” Kellie chimes in. “Our dog is very blessed in that department.”
It’s Kellie and Allen, uncensored and unfiltered.
“I didn’t have the right partner for this job before, but Allen is a good partner for it,” Kellie explains. “He’s got a good sense of humor, and he doesn’t take a lot of stuff personally. If he does, he gets over it real quick.”
It doesn’t hurt that he’s a romantic and his big gestures play well on air. “He’s the romantic one,” Kellie admits. “On our first Valentine’s Day, I bought him a book and tie. He lit candles everywhere and bought thousands of conversation hearts and spread them all message-side-up on the table, on the bar. He had little gifts for me, like a bumble bee necklace, because we met on Bumble. It was the first gift he ever gave me.”
Later, when they got engaged, Allen staged a dinner at Reunion Tower and, on the observation deck, asked her out with a card trick, maneuvering Kellie into picking the card that read “Kellie, will you marry me?” He covered the entire dinner table in conversation hearts again—message-side-up. They married five months later on July 1, 2017. Emma Kelly caught the bouquet. While they moved fast, Kellie explains that they simply knew what they wanted. They work well together. As a wedding present, Kellie gave Allen a stylized drawing of herself. Traditionally, it would be a nude— “I was not nude!”—and Allen’s present back to her was a tattoo of the painting.
Love, Kellie lets on, isn’t all romance. It’s sleep apnea. It’s the delicacy of merging two families, and juggling two fully-formed lives, of running Kellie’s public persona and Allen’s new marketing business. “Once you commit to a marriage, you’ll figure out the rest of the details along the way,” she muses. “After we got married, I learned Allen hates bananas. It’s not a dealbreaker. But who hates bananas?”
Even little, everyday chores changed. “I remember standing in the laundry room almost in tears on my seventh load on a Saturday, bedsheets, towels, dirty clothes, socks—every sock is balled up, every shirt is inside out. It’s silly, but that was the biggest adjustment for me.”
Overall the impression they give is one of two people whose love is not the stuff of Nancy Meyers, but of daily life: trips to Costco, chores and the little ways they show their love for each other.
“Men need to feel needed,” Kellie says, more of her signature wisdom. “If my husband wants to do a chore where he can pull out his toolbelt, I tell him how sexy he is. My birthday is in April and he came over to plant flowers in his boots, jeans and a white t-shirt. I told him he looked like Luke Bryan and I took a picture. Men need to be shown appreciation. I do think it’s sexy. I’m old school like that.”
Life, Kellie says, is very good. It’s her 25th anniversary at the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show, and her life has changed completely. Dallas has been kind to her.
“I never really think about the future much,” she says. “When Kidd hired me, he asked where I saw myself in five years and I said I didn’t know. I’ve never been a big picture person like that. I always assumed I’d be married, but just didn’t have a vision for it. I never had a vision for Allen. Now I’m thinking about where we’re going to retire? Not that I’m ready to retire,” she assures me. “My husband says anywhere as long as there’s hunting, fishing, ocean and golf. That could be anywhere, so we’ll see. We’ll see.”
Originally published in the February 2019 issue under the title “Love on the Air”.