Perhaps a friend of his put it best: “Rick Crandall is ‘Mr. Patriotism’…. He starts his popular “Breakfast Club” radio show everyday on KEZW 1430 AM by playing: “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Crandall is well-known for being a genuinely dedicated champion of veterans and veterans’ issues; and he has taken a major leadership role within the Colorado military community. Rick is the MC for Denver’s annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades, and he is a consistent sponsor and visitor at the Denver VA Hospital.
Rick Crandall is most notably the person who spearheaded (and has given countless hours of his time and money to) the building of the “Colorado Freedom Memorial” a monument dedicated to all Coloradoans killed or missing in military action which will honor all vets from the Spanish American War to the present. Rick says: “It is a sacrifice to serve in the military and that sacrifice should not be forgotten. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served; and I’m going to do my best to see that we pay that debt. The Colorado Freedom Memorial is a place where the families who lost loved-ones can go and feel at home - and share stories and memories in a peaceful, quiet setting.”
The caring and charismatic, Crandall’s life-long commitment to these causes goes way back to his early roots of being born into a proud Air Force family – and after 17 years as a service brat – Rick joined the Air Force where he made his radio debut at Andersen Air Force Base before moving on to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Crandall and his wife Diane, who is also involved with many non-profit fundraising projects, are at a good point in their lives right now and are enjoying their roles as grandparents. When asked about future plans, Rick says: "I would like to spend the next part of my life, after radio, teaching. I have enjoyed working with students at Regis University in our ‘Stories from Wartime’ class and feel energized by being with students. I also look forward to continuing work with Colorado's veterans, and the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation. And, I look forward to finding a little corner of the world someday where Diane and I can be alone, together.”
A true American, Crandall deserves our respect and admiration. Future generations can be proud of what Rick has done to preserve the honor and memory of their ancestors. Rick Crandall will never forget the price these brave people paid to protect our freedom.
Rick, tell us about your “Breakfast Club” radio show? Mornings at the Breakfast Club are like friends sitting together for a cup of coffee. We play music and share the news, weather and traffic just like everyone else, but we also share personal stories, bring along interesting guests and care for one another just like friends should.
What do you feel is the social responsibility of a radio station to the community? I have worked very hard to link KEZW with the community it serves and my staff has been brilliant in supporting that effort. We have been very visible in the Colorado veterans community, the senior community and more increasingly now, with the baby boom generation. We actively support music, health and education events with PSA's and our attendance; we support veterans with supply drives, veterans’ interviews and work with the VA. Not an hour goes by on Studio 1430 that we aren't trying to help someone in our community.
What’s something that is on display in your office? A Mr. Potato Head collection that includes 14 different characters, like Darth Tater and Spider Spud!
You are so involved with and dedicated to the brave and honorable people who served in the military. How did the Medal of Honor Conference (that just took place in Denver) go this year? I think the convention was amazing. Over half of the living recipients of the Medal (100 living, 53 here) were present. 38 of the recipients spoke to over 35,000 students and families gathered at school assemblies. A new PBS documentary, Medal of Honor, had its world premier here. Pretty remarkable stuff!
In one sentence, describe yourself…. I am a pretty simple person to understand really, passionate about the people I love and the community I serve, and I always believe the glass is half full!!!
When you lose your momentum, how do you regain your “fighting spirit?” When it comes to work with the Colorado Freedom Memorial I have to look no farther than the families of those brave young men and women who gave their lives for our country. We have become very close with several of the families who have lost sons in Iraq and when I start to think I can't get the Memorial built, I simply look at them and realize, I have no choice, I can't let their loss be forgotten. As for the radio station, my fighting spirit comes from the very people who listen. They deserve a radio station that reflects who they are; and if we go away, so does their voice in the media.
With so many worthwhile causes out there, how do you inspire people to support the Colorado Freedom Memorial? It's great that there are so many worthwhile causes in the community to support, and unfortunate that the need is so high at the same time. Our mission with the Colorado Freedom Memorial is to fulfill a promise, a promise that says if you give your life for something greater than yourself, that sacrifice will not be forgotten. It comes down to simple questions. What is your Freedom worth? How have you honored the sacrifice of the 6000 Colorado veterans, your neighbors, who did not return? Helping build a Memorial that educates future generations about the price that was paid for their freedom, and shows families and comrades that we have not forgotten, seems to be inspiration enough.
What do you remember most vividly from your childhood? The Summer of 1968. My father was in Vietnam and my mother took me and my two brothers to live with our grandparents in Oregon for the summer while we waited for Dad to return. It was in a small town called Scappose and I learned more that summer than anytime before, or since. We picked strawberries with migrant workers; learned about farms and nature on long walks with Mom; created great adventures in neighboring forests and had the dream summer of a lifetime. As I look back on it 40-years later I really think a lot of what shaped me as an adult was born out of that summer.
With the recent DNC being held in Denver, what impact do you think it's had on the State of Colorado? I think it's had a wonderful impact on Colorado. All of a sudden we're the center of the political world. We matter in the upcoming election and that's causing everyone to become engaged whether it's running for office or discussing the issues with family and friends around the dinner table. Sharing views and having honest, civil discussion makes us all stronger, and makes us all feel like we have a voice in the process. How cool is that!!!
With all the "Baby Boomers" and people living longer, how will that effect music listening in the future? It seems that the arrival of digital audio, and so many new ways to listen to music now, has provided an introduction to a variety of music formats to people who may not have listened before. With access to I-Tunes and other digital providers, compact discs, streaming and mp3 players, people are experimenting with new types of music. Streaming has delivered stations like KEZW to the world. Two-days ago I heard from listeners in Aman, Jordan!
With so much on your plate, Rick, what advice can you offer on how to stay focused? I find it necessary to make dedicated time for each of the things I'm involved with, and not let one thing interfere with the others time. Mornings are KEZW time, afternoons are Colorado Freedom Memorial time and evenings and weekends are family and me time. It's easier to be focused if you are passionate about the things that fill your plate.
What is your pet peeve? Bad customer service. It makes me crazy to do business somewhere and not get a simple "thank you for shopping with us", or, "can I help you?" Seems to me the world would be a better place if we should a little gratitude for the people who support us!
How does one hold on to their true self and still become successful? That's really the great challenge, isn't it? You have to decide early on what success means to you, and then, what you're willing to sacrifice for it.
How do you stay so passionate and committed to what you are doing? My wife, Diane, is the inspiration in my life. In August 2006 she suffered a stroke that severely affected her ability to speak, and think clearly. Through her steadfast determination, and the brilliant work of Medical Center of Aurora and Spalding Rehabilitation Center, she regained all of her ability to communicate. To watch her fight for her recovery, and to see her overcome challenges, showed me what you can accomplish if you're passionate. If she could win that fight, I can handle the little things that cross my path!
When does someone know when it’s time to move on? When they wake up in the morning and their first thought is they wish they were going anywhere other than where they're headed. If you don't wake up and get excited by the challenges ahead, it's time to find new challenges.
What are your favorite leisure time activities or hobbies? I am crazy about the Denver Broncos and can't wait for Sunday afternoons in the Fall! I also enjoy travel and have been blessed with the opportunity to see much of the world in my life.
Is there a special “aha” moment in your life when you knew “I get it now!”? Two of them. The first was when our granddaughter, Larissa, was born. From the time she came into the world I have been in awe of how magnificent life is. Watching her learn to communicate, exploring the world around her, beginning to make decisions and ask questions had been AWESOME!!! We often miss it with our own children because we're busy growing up ourselves. But with grandchildren we have a greater appreciation for the process, and the results, and I have loved every second of it. The second came the third day after Diane's stroke. Our Priest came to the hospital to see Diane and while he was there Diane managed to communicate, barely, that she wanted to pray. So, the three of us held hands and Diane, who up this point had not been able to say a complete sentence, recited the Lords Prayer. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard, and taught me clearly the power of faith. So the wonder of life, and power of faith have both been shown to me!
Is there a saying, motto, or “words to live by” that is your favorite? “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran - Also, "God gave burdens, and also shoulders." a Yiddish Proverb.
What is your favorite song? book? magazine? - and movie of all times? Hmm. How about “I'll Be Here With You” by Nancy LaMott, as favorite song, St. Paul's letters from the New Testament as favorite book, and “Field of Dreams” and “Patton” as favorite movies.
What is the biggest challenge you are dealing with in your life right now? My Mom passed away in July and I'm learning to live without her. I'm a service brat and Mom really was responsible for raising me, and my brothers, while Dad served his country in Vietnam and elsewhere. So much of who I am comes from her and not having her to talk to has been harder than I imagined.
What is your biggest fear? Not getting the Colorado Freedom Memorial built. I have had too many Moms hug me and say thanks for giving them a place to go and be with their sons, even if it's only a name on our wall. I can't let them down. I can't let my Mom down who believed in this project so much.
What do you like the most about yourself? That I don't worry about things. I enjoy the ride so much, the good and bad, and live every day in absolute awe of how it all works!!
Are you living the life you were born to live – and would you say you are living your true destiny? In my mind, I am living a Forrest Gump life. I have lived in Africa, Germany, Guam and all across America. I have met some of the most famous people in the world, I have broadcast from Omaha Beach and Pearl Harbor and have shared the story of the WWII generation with students and listeners alike. I have been married to the love of my life, raised two beautiful daughters, helped raise three grandchildren and share half the bed with Max the Wonder Dog!! And, I have been given the opportunity through KEZW to make a difference in people’s lives, everyday. I am absolutely where I should be, and I thank God every day for that.
What do you think molded you into the person you are today? Here in the middle of my life I find myself thinking about this a lot. I think my life experience as a service brat which gave me the opportunity to meet many new people and see many new things had an impact. I think my high school drama teacher at Aurora Central High School had a huge impact by giving me confidence in who I was. I think I am a product of all the people I have encountered in 51-years of life.
What do you love most about making your home in Colorado? Almost everything. I like having the mountains so close, the amazing museums and theatres in town, the weather, the people and the great summer fairs and festivals. Colorado has all the big city stuff, with a small town feel.
When you were a young boy, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? I'm not sure I wanted to grow up! I really wanted to be an astronaut. I'm a child of the 60's and remember vividly standing in the front yard and looking at the Moon when Neil Armstrong was stepping on the surface. I still want to be an astronaut!!
Is there something you still want to learn how to do in your lifetime? I want to learn how to speak Italian and have John Fielder spend a couple days teaching me how to take really good pictures.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? I think the fact I've been able to get so many people to share their stories with my radio audience, students at Regis University and even their own families has been my most important work. I love interviewing people, and getting them to share stories of their life. In the case of veterans it's often the first time they've shared those stories. Americans are horrible story tellers and anything I can do to make sure future generations know the stories that shaped who they are, the better we are for it. I'm also very proud that Diane and I have been married for 33-years!
How do you want to be remembered by future generations? I would love to be remembered as the guy who always had a smile to share, time for a good story, and a desire to leave the world better than he found it. And I'd like to be remembered as a patriot, a good husband and father and the coolest grandfather in the history of grandfathers!!
Rick Crandall’s Community Involvement & Awards: Raising funds for: Volunteers of America's programs such as “Meals On Wheels”, helping to raise funds for the American Red Cross, The Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation and numerous other Denver area charities.
Rick has been honored for his dedication to Denver's community with the “Volunteers of America’s Special Friend Award”, The Colorado Broadcasters Association “Citizen Of The Year Award” twice, and the “Colorado Broadcasters Association Harry Hoth Award for Public Service”. Rick was one of five finalists for the “National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award” as “Personality of the Year”.
He has sponsored “Valentines For Veterans” drives. Perhaps the highlight of Rick’s radio career has been his live broadcasts from the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France and from the surrender deck aboard the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor to mark the 60th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor. For his efforts, Rick has received the American Legion media award five consecutive years, the “Veterans of Foreign Wars "Citizen of the Year Award” and has been given honorary membership in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, 1st Marine Division Association and the Military Officers of America Association. Rick has also been honored by Regis University with its highest award, the “Civic Princeps Award” for his work with Colorado's seniors and military, and he received the “2006 Spirit of Colorado Voice of Volunteerism Award” presented by Lt. Governor Jane Norton.