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Seacrest continues to cruise

'American Idol' host touts radio roots

Ryan Seacrest
Ryan Seacrest
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Larry King talks to 'American Idol's' Paula Abdul and Ryan Seacrest (February 8)

(CNN) -- Ryan Seacrest has done more in 29 years than most people in his chosen field of radio do in their entire careers.

Little more than a decade in the music business, the Atlanta, Georgia, native has become a radio staple in Los Angeles, California; the voice of two coast-to-coast shows; and most notably, the host of Fox's hit reality series, "American Idol."

Seacrest started his radio career at age 16 as an intern for STAR 94 in Atlanta. Soon he was given a nighttime radio slot with the station, which he hosted from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Upon completing high school, he enrolled at the University of Georgia and majored in journalism.

It was during his freshman year that Seacrest was offered his first big break as host of ESPN's "Radical Outdoor Challenge," which pitted athletes against one another for money.

Seacrest then made his way to Los Angeles, where he hosted his first of many radio shows, "Ryan Seacrest for the Ride Home with Lisa Foxx," a program that ran for six years.

Since then, Seacrest has taken over one of radio's most coveted spots, filling the shoes of idol Casey Kasem and becoming host of the nationally syndicated "American Top 40."

"[Kasem is] a legend, a guy I used to listen to growing up. And not only listen to, but pretended to be," Seacrest said in a January 2004 interview with CNN's Larry King.

"When I moved to Hollywood, one of the first people I ever wanted to meet wasn't a movie star. It was a disc jockey, it was Casey Kasem. And to have that opportunity and have him believe enough in me to say, you know what, I think you can do a good job."

Seacrest's radio credits don't stop there.

He also hosts the weekday morning show "On Air with Ryan Seacrest," which runs on 102.7 in Los Angeles from 5 to 10 a.m.

The TV frontier

In 2002, Seacrest returned to the television airwaves when he secured a role on Fox's "American Idol," co-hosting the first season with Brian Dunkleman.

The popular reality series, now in its fourth season, scours the country for raw talent in hopes of creating a recording industry star. Judges Paula Abdul and record producers Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson whittle down the cast of contestants before the public takes over the voting in later rounds.

Previous "Idol" stalwarts like Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard have gone on to successful music careers.

Seacrest said he has faith in the program's ability to propel raw talent into super-stardom.

"It's interactive, but what does it really produce?" said Seacrest in an August 2003 appearance on "Larry King Live." "After you see the winner Kelly Clarkson of the first season, you realize this produces legitimate stars in music."

Seacrest also took another crack at television, this time as the star of the show, when he launched "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest" in January 2004. But the live celebrity-interview driven television program lasted less than a year, cancelled due to disappointing ratings.

Aside from these radio and television accomplishments, People magazine showcased Seacrest in 2003 in its "50 Most Beautiful People" issue.

Springing off the success of the text-message voting on "American Idol," phone giant AT&T tapped Seacrest to be its face for the text-messaging craze, featuring him in several advertisements promoting the service.

Seacrest seems to have penetrated many mediums -- television, radio, even cell phones -- and all before his 30th birthday.

But in a 2003 interview with CNN's Larry King, he paid homage to his radio roots.

"I love it. I love the immediacy of it. I love the spontaneity of it," Seacrest said. "I love the fact that every day you see something on TV that you have an opinion about and you want to talk about and the next day you can get on the air and do it."

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