Radio and television host
Born December 24, 1976, in Atlanta, GA; son of Gary (an attorney) and Connie (a homemaker) Seacrest. Education: Attended University of Georgia and Santa Monica College.
Home —Hollywood Hills, CA. Office —c/o American Idol, P.O. Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213–0900.
Worked as a radio disc jockey, including: WSTR/Star 94, Atlanta, GA, c. 1992–95; KYSR–FM/Star 98.7, Ryan Seacrest for the Ride Home, Los Angeles, CA, 1995–2004; Live from the Lounge, syndicated, 2001—; KIIS–FM, Los Angeles, CA, On–Air with Ryan Seacrest, 2003—; American Top 40, syndicated, 2004—. Television appearances include: Gladiators 2000 (host), 1994; Extra (part time correspondent), 1994; Radical Outdoor Challenge (host), ESPN, 1995; Wild Animal Games (host), Family Channel, 1995; Reality Check, 1995; The New Edge (host), USA and Sci–Fi, 1996; The Click (host), 1997; Talk Soup (guest host), E! Entertainment Television, 1999; Hey Arnold! (voice), 1999; Melrose Place, FOX, 1999; Beverly Hills, 90210, FOX, 2000; NBC Saturday Night Movie block (host), 2000; Ultimate Revenge (host), 2001; American Idol (host), FOX, 2002—; The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (correspondent), NBC, 2003; American Juniors (host), 2003; Larry King Live (guest host), CNN, 2003; presenter at Emmy Awards, 2003; host of New Year's Eve show, FOX, 2003; host of American Radio Music Awards, 2003; host of Radio Music Awards, 2003; On–Air with Ryan Seacrest
Though Ryan Seacrest came to national prominence as the host of American Idol in 2002, he already had established a solid reputation as a successful radio host and disk jockey (DJ) for stations in Atlanta, Georgia, and Los Angeles, California. He continued to work in both broadcasting formats for a number of years. Contradicting the common notion of a "face for radio," he was also known for his good looks and metrosexual grooming habits. The charming, easy–going Seacrest also hosted several other television shows before and after American Idol, including On–Air with Ryan Seacrest, which he also produced and owned part of.
Seacrest was born on December 24, 1976, in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Gary and Connie Seacrest. His father worked as an attorney, while his mother was a homemaker. Seacrest and his younger sister, Meredith, were raised in the Atlanta area. From a young age, Seacrest was interested in acting and the entertainment industry. His interest was first peaked when he played King Winter in his fourth grade school musical. As a young person, Seacrest already had a goal of hosting a radio show that counted down the top records of the day.
By the time Seacrest was a student at Dunwoody High School in Atlanta, he knew he was wanted to work in radio as a disk jockey and follow in the steps of media mogul Dick Clark. At school, he read the morning announcements over the intercom and became known as "The Voice of Dunwoody High School." He also participated in many radio call–in contests. Seacrest befriended DJ Tom Sullivan and was able to move to the other side of the broadcast by working as an intern at WSTR/Star 94 while still in high school.
While he was working at WSTR, Seacrest spent a lot of time at the station and become familiar with every aspect of radio broadcasting. He made a demo tape and convinced his superiors at WSTR to hire him as a fill–in DJ for the 7 p.m. to midnight shift. Seacrest's show was soon one of the highest–rated on the station, though he was still a high school student. After graduating from Dunwoody in 1993, he continued to work for Star 94 while attending college.
Seacrest entered the University of Georgia, where he studied business. He soon added television to his resume. Though he was only a freshman in college, Seacrest was given the chance to work as a television show host. He worked on the kid–focused game show Radical Outdoor Challenge, which aired on EPSN in 1995. Seacrest worked on the show on weekends while attending school.
In 1995, Seacrest left both jobs and the University of Georgia behind to move to Los Angeles and try his luck in a bigger media market. He began as a part–time DJ, while continuing his business studies at Santa Monica College. Seacrest was soon hired as disc jockey as KYSR–FM/Star 98.7, and dropped out of Santa Monica College after one year. He became the afternoon drive DJ, and his show was called Ryan Seacrest for the Ride Home. It soon became the number–one–rated show in the market, doing the best among women aged 25–34.
While working on his successful radio show, Seacrest continued to branch out into television. In 1997, he hosted another game show for kids, The Click, which had an Internet theme. The Click was produced by Merv Griffin, who had created and produced a number of successful game shows over the years. Seacrest took advantage of the opportunity to learn how television works by sitting in on production and related meetings. In 1999, Seacrest had guest appearances on a number of successful television programs, including Talk Soup, the E! Entertainment television show about talk shows, and the nighttime dramas Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210.
Seacrest continued to have many exciting opportunities in television. He appeared on The New Edge on the USA network and Sci Fi, and Wild Animal Games on the Family Channel. He had a deal in the works for his own late–night talk show called Seacrest @ Night, but it was scrapped in 2000. Seacrest later admitted that a late night show would not have fit well with his talents. In 2000, he was hired as the host of a movie night block shown on NBC on Saturday nights.
While Seacrest was pursuing an ever–increasing number of opportunities in television, he continued his afternoon radio show on KYSR. In 2001, he added other hosting duties for another radio program. He was hired as the host of Live from the Lounge, a nationally syndicated show that appeared on Premiere Radio Networks. On the show, Seacrest interviewed celebrities.
The biggest break of Seacrest's career happened in 2002. He was hired as one of the hosts of FOX's American Idol, an amateur singing contest that led to a record deal for the winner. American Idol proved extremely popular among American television audiences, and Seacrest gained many fans, had websites dedicated to him, and enjoyed nation–wide fame. During the first season of the show, Seacrest shared hosting duties with Brian Dunkelman, a comic who was very negative; after the first season, Dunkelman was dropped and Seacrest worked subsequent seasons as the only host.
On American Idol, Seacrest worked with the show's judges: pop singer and choreographer Paula Abdul, musician and music producer Randy Jackson, and music producer Simon Cowell. The British Cowell was often biting in his commentary on the contestants' talents, and sometimes had conflicts with Seacrest. Despite such negativity, Seacrest emerged as a star. According to Donna Petrozzello of the Daily News, "The biggest winner to come out of American Idol isn't Kelly Clarkson. Or Ruben Studdard. Or even Clay Aiken. It's Ryan Seacrest. Since starting as host of American Idol, Seacrest has become an entertainment conglomerate in his own right."
While hosting American Idol, Seacrest brought many American Idol –related people to guest on his radio show. He also traveled around the United States to promote the show. A common topic of discussion about Seacrest was his appearance and the importance he placed on maintaining it. Seacrest had been a self–described "fat" kid with braces and glasses in high school, but dieted to lose weight. He admitted to enjoying clothes, shopping, eating right, and working out, and indulging in eyebrow waxes, massages, face creams, manicures, facials, and extensive hair care. In public, he made fun of himself for his sometimes–excessive grooming habits. He was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2003.
More television opportunities came Seacrest's way as American Idol became a national phenomenon and made him a household name. In 2003, Seacrest served as host for the one–season–long American Juniors. This also aired on FOX and featured children competing in the same way adults did on American Idol; however, this program did not get the same high ratings as its predecessor and was not renewed. He was also the host of the Radio Music Awards in 2003, and was a fill–in host of Larry King Live on CNN that same year.
Seacrest's radio career also took off because of American Idol. In 2003, he was allowed to serve as the guest host of Rick Dees' top–rated, nationally syndicated morning radio show which originated in Los Angeles. Seacrest was given permission to do this despite the fact that Dees' show aired on a different station which competed with his station's morning show. By 2003, Seacrest left his afternoon radio show and Star 98.7 behind for a bigger television gig.
A long–time goal of Seacrest's was hosting his own television show, and the success of American Idol allowed him to do it. In 2003, with the help of FOX and his own production company—Ryan Seacrest Productions—Seacrest began hosting On–Air with Ryan Seacrest. This syndicated daytime talk/variety show which aired live in many markets. Seacrest had created the show and served as its executive producer.
Shot in Hollywood at a custom–built studio on the corner of Hollywood and Highland with a view of the famous Hollywood sign, On–Air with Ryan Seacrest was different than most daytime entertainment available. The show combined elements of other hit shows: It was seen as a modern–day American Bandstand, with elements of MTV's Total Request Live, late–night talk shows like those hosted by Craig Kilborn and Conan O'Brien, and infotainment news magazines like Entertainment Tonight and
Extra. The live studio audience experienced in–person interviews, performances on an outside stage, and in–house calls as well as pieces by correspondents. On–Air with Ryan Seacrest was supposed to air between 3 and 7 p.m. to catch a young audience that did not watch the news and had outgrown Total Request Live. Tag lined "We bring Hollywood to You," Seacrest's show struggled in its first year of existence. On July 27, 2004, it was announced that On-Air with Ryan Seacrest would end production. The show would broadcast through September 17 of that year. Seacrest also continued to host American Idol in its third season on FOX in 2004.
Seacrest did not neglect his radio career while working in television. Though he had left Star 98.7, in 2004 he became the host of American Top 40, a weekly nationally syndicated radio show which had been hosted for many years by Casey Kasem. It was one of the most popular nationally syndicated countdown shows, and Kasem had hosted it since its inception in 1970. When Seacrest took over, he changed the format to be more interactive between songs, with interviews and performances, and eliminated Kasem trademarks such as listener long–distance dedications. Seacrest recorded the program in a studio within his new television studio.
In early 2004, Seacrest added another regular job to his already busy schedule. When Dees left his morning show on KIIS–FM after many years, Seacrest was hired to replace the radio icon in the Los Angeles market. Seacrest's radio show was called On–Air with Ryan Seacrest like his television show, and was considered a big move up for him in radio.
Some critics believed that Seacrest was on the verge of being overexposed, if he was not already. In addition to the credits already mentioned, he appeared in commercials for AT&T Wireless, presented an award at the Emmys, and hosted both the American Radio Music Awards and the New Year's Eve show on FOX in 2003. Seacrest was even a correspondent on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for one night. Seacrest dismissed such criticisms. He told Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal–Constitution, "You have to look at the broadcast world differently. In broadcast, it's conventional to be on five days a week.… I feel good about it. I'm achieving a degree of ubiquity."
Overexposure might not be a problem in his future. Seacrest's long–term goals included producing more television shows and perhaps letting someone else host them down the line. He told Hilary De Vries of the New York Times, "I've always had this plan of doing what Dick Clark did—producing and hosting radio and television and building a business from it." While talking to Nicholas Fonseca of Entertainment Weekly, Seacrest added, "I want to continue producing and conceiving and selling my own shows. I want to do this for the next 60 years."
Celebrity Biographies, Baseline II, 2004.
Atlanta Journal–Constitution, January 12, 2004, p. 1B; March 15, 2004, p. 25.
Broadcasting & Cable, June 2, 2003, p. 21; January 5, 2004, p. 29.
Daily News (New York), January 19, 2004, p. 32.
Entertainment Weekly, January 9, 2004, pp. 46–48.
Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2004, p. E13; February 23, 2004, p. E3.
Mediaweek, November 29, 1999, p. 44; June 25, 2001, p. 27.
New York Times, January 11, 2004, sec. 2, p. 30; January 19, 2004, p. E10.
People, May 1, 2003, p. 26; May 12, 2003, p. 129; January 19, 2004, p. 69; February 16, 2004, p. 32.
Time, January 26, 2004, p. 62.
Variety, September 25, 2000, p. 48.
— A. Petruso