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Ryan Seacrest: ‘Having Fun While Taking It Seriously And Being Kind Is A Good Formula.’

Ryan Seacrest has done radio almost every day since he was fourteen years old. Some 35 years later, the medium that built the career foundation that made him a Hollywood heavyweight and a household name still remains vitally important to him. “I think at the core, what I get excited about, what gets me up in the morning, is connecting with people in an unscripted, unvarnished way,” he says on the “Math & Magic” podcast.

“Getting to say something to them, hear back from them, know that I’m part of the routine.”

Seacrest is now marking his 20th year on CHR KIIS-FM Los Angeles, where his morning show serves as the basis for the syndicated show “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” heard on more than 100 radio stations nationwide. Even with everything he’s accomplished outside of radio – on television, as a producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist – he still looks forward to getting on the air. “There’s just something about the fluidity, about the autonomy of conversation, of content, of topics that we get to have in the radio show that’s just real and hopefully relatable,” he tells iHeartMedia’s Chairman & CEO Bob Pittman, who hosts the podcast. “I love that.”

Asked what makes a great on-air talent, Seacrest says that for him it comes down to preparation. “I love to prepare… I do think that the preparation is key. Having fun while taking it seriously and being kind is a good formula.”

He says he still has vivid memories of the time, as a teenager living in Atlanta, that he realized he was in love with radio. “I can smell the grass when I was mowing the lawn with a Toro rear-propelled lawnmower, and I was listening at the time on my water resistant yellow Sony Walkman to ‘American Top 40’ hosted by Casey Kasem and I pictured all of the artists he was playing,” he recalls on the podcast. “I pictured him being in his studio in Hollywood, the glamour of it all, and I just thought, ‘Wow, this is super cool that I’m listening in Atlanta to something coming out of Hollywood about the biggest artists in the top 40. And that’s when I started to dream about doing it.”

After working part-time on the air at Atlanta’s WSTR, Seacrest dropped out of college, packed his stuff into his Honda and drove to L.A. Once there, he got the name of the program director at KYSR, the local “American Top 40” affiliate. He called the PD, Randy Lane, and left a message. After numerous calls, Seacrest says he was able to get a meeting with Lane and that led to a job driving the “Star 98.7” van around town. Eventually he was offered weekend overnights. “So that’s what I did. I did overnights and I drove the van.”

Even as a teenager, Seacrest says he had a dream to work in both radio and TV. “I studied the work of Merv Griffin and Dick Clark, both guys who had a radio and TV career and both entrepreneurs and both asset owners, and both very, very smart but also very good presenters on air,” he explains. “And I watched how they maneuvered the skills of business and the skills of performance and what that intersection was for them.”

Getting the host gig on “American Idol” propelled his career forward in a major way and opened new doors. “How do I take this momentum and turn it into something bigger?,” Seacrest recalls asking himself. That dovetailed into hosting “American Top 40,” doing red carpet interviews for E television, producing “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” hosting “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and six years of “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” Next he takes over as the host of the legendary “Wheel of Fortune.”

“No one will ever do what Pat Sajak has done. He’s a legend who had hosted that show for so many years,” Seacrest says on the podcast. “I know it’s got a special place in a lot of people’s hearts because it’s generational. They grew up with it, maybe they learned something from it, maybe they got together with their kids to watch it.”

Seacrest says he thrives on his jam-packed schedule and doesn’t take anything in his multifaceted career for granted. “This is what I always wanted to do,” he tells Pittman. “I dreamt of doing what I get to do every single day, and I remind myself of how it felt when I didn’t do it, and that drive, how that fire I had in my belly beforehand. And so to have the privilege of doing it every day, I remind myself to be grateful and treat it in such a way.”

Listen to the complete podcast episode HERE.

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