By: Joseph Cacciotti
Craig Kelly fell in love with radio at the age of five.
That love still exists today as he prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his talk show The Chicken Show on Oct. 17.
“My mom won a prize in a local radio station and the host brought us into the booth to see his studio and from then on I fell in love,” said Kelly. “It was the Shaun Bourke show.”
Though he is legally blind, Craig does not require a cane or a guide dog. He is able to see enough to interact with the world the same way someone with perfect vision would, it just takes more effort for him to read and his vision blurs past short distances.
“I think it is better that I was born like this, because if it was something I had to deal with at a point in my life I wouldn’t know how to adapt. This way it’s all I’ve known and that makes it easier for me,” said Craig.
Legally blind, Kelly has been denied the chance to work his way up for any radio station due to his inability to acquire a driving license, but he refuses to give up on his dream.
He began his own private radio show when he was 14 years old and since then has only missed one airing of the show.
“I had a friend that suggested starting a show on the school PA (public address) system,” said Kelly. “He didn’t last long but I flew with it! No pun intended as chickens don’t fly.”
Kelly’s hobbies include attending a karaoke bar every Thursday and working as a DJ for events.
“I tried golf a few times but I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there aren’t many blind guys on the course,” said Kelly.
“Brother” Bob Derro of The Jewel 98.5 FM describes the most important factor in getting a job in radio is a very positive attitude.
“Trying is what counts most,” said Derro. “Go in with an open mind and a very positive attitude. It’s a great trade to work in. I’m still in it, after 40 years!”
Cohost Danny Galea has described Kelly as the best host a co-host could ask for. “Craig co-founded the show and the final word is his, he is very open to changing the show to contribute to its success. People may not get his sarcasm right off the bat, but they will grow to love him.”
Kelly views his best trait as his looks, “I’m heavyset so I have extra space to store all the sexy.”
Born in Ottawa, Kelly grew up in the small town of Cold Lake Alberta. He graduated with honors from AY Jackson high school proceeded to complete a degree in radio and television at Ryerson University in 2011.
“The first time I got my feet wet in radio I had a co-op at the Hot 89.9 and Mauler and Rush were my mentors. They are my idols,” said Kelly.
The name Chickenman has a history.
“When we started the show was called Carlos and the Chicken, so when Carlos left just being called The Chicken didn’t fit and that’s when a colleague, Cub Carson then from 106.9 The Bear first called me The Chicken Man,” said Kelly.
“Once I went to Ryerson someone gave me credit as Chickenman one word and that’s stuck ever since.”
The Chicken show is entirely volunteer run. Without incentives, Kelly has been the only recurring host. Co-hosts come and go, but the Chickenman stays.
“It’s almost a state of Zen. When I’m on the air it’s more calming and uplifting than anything else,” said Kelly.
“As somebody who is not eligible to drive, radio stations requiring vehicle licensing sets me back a step.”
Kelly hopes through his work he can inspire others to also pursue their dreams, whatever the cost.
“I’d like to hope that if I’m not an inspiration now that I can become one,” said Kelly.
“I’m not where I saw myself being five years ago, but I know what I’m capable of and I will get there if it kills me.”
Kelly came to Algonquin to further his education and learn more about information technology. As requiring a driver’s license is not mandatory for most system maintenance and web development jobs, this should give him the credentials he needs to achieve his goals.
The 10 year broadcast will air live next month on October 36th, at Hurley’s Bar and Grill at 8-10pm.
The Chicken Show airs every Tuesday from 8-10 and can be found online at www.thechickenshow.net.
“Five years ago I would have wanted to be the next Mauler and Rush. In five years, I want to be the first Craig Kelly.”