Rick Adams, left, chats with guest Micah "the Game Guru" Jackson, AOL's online video-game expert, who brought along two games to give away to listeners. Adams's live Internet radio show attracts 1 million 6-to-14-year-olds.
(Jonathan Ernst For The Washington Post)
By Ellen Edwards Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 20, 2004; Page C01
You could call Rick Adams the Man Who Made Madonna Moo, but that might give you the wrong idea.
After all, this is a man who spends his afternoons with your children. And really, he was just playing one of his little games. Madonna was on the phone, and he asked her to play the "Moo Baa" game. He ran through a list of breeds of sheep and cows and she had to bleat for the ones she thought were sheep and moo for the cows. And she did. The real Madonna.
It was the peak of his 10-month-old radio show.
Adams is one of those annoying people who knew what he wanted to do when he was about 3 years old. He wanted to be a radio DJ, and now at age 32 he is -- but with a new-media twist. After years of radio and television work in his native England -- a lot of it aimed at children -- he's the DJ for AOL's daily, live Internet radio show for kids, called Radio KOL, which can be heard only by AOL members.
Chances are your kids, or some you know, are among the 1 million 6-to-14-year-olds who each weekday spend some quality time with Adams. They e-mail and instant-message him, they badger him for giveaways, they send their shout-outs to friends and family, and they ask for songs, some of which are way inappropriate and which he can't play, but most of which he can and does.
"The wrinklies [that's what he calls parents] will get some stuff and the kids will get other things," he says from his studio in Northern Virginia. "I always want to pitch up to them, not talk down."
His talk is funny, and he puts a lot of calls from kids directly on the air. They have responded by becoming regular callers and some have created their own characters, such as "Somebody," who calls often to chat with Adams.
Although there is lots of radio aimed at teenagers and adults, there is very little dedicated to the younger set. Radio Disney is the only other contender, and with about 3.5 million listeners, it's by far the big kid on the block. It's available in the Washington area only on satellite radio or digital cable TV, not conventional radio, as it is in about 50 other U.S. cities. It's a national show, live 24 hours a day out of Dallas, and as with Radio KOL, kids can send requests and shout-outs through the Internet at RadioDisney.com.
Adams's first job in radio was as an intern making coffee for people.
"It was the best job," he remembers, peering intently through his slit-like glasses. "I was around the station and people thought, hmm, if he can make coffee, maybe he's good at making biscuits." Then a DJ quit, and there he was. "They said I could try the show but 'We're not going to pay you.' " Eventually they did, of course, and he went on to do a lot of radio and television in England, including a stint for Nickelodeon, for which he had to try out.