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Country’s Kix Brooks takes on radio

Half of duo Brooks & Dunn will host ‘American Country Countdown’
/ Source: The Associated Press

No danger of Kix Brooks running out of material when he takes over as host of ABC Radio’s “American Country Countdown” this week.

As half of the hit country music duo Brooks & Dunn, he sees a lot more behind-the-scenes stuff than most country-music experts.

Like this tidbit about John Rich of Big & Rich:

“John recently had his 32nd birthday party with six Playboy bunnies and a naked fruit lady,” Brooks said.

It’s those insider stories that drew producers to Brooks, who’s sold 28 million records and scored 23 No. 1 hits with his musical partner, Ronnie Dunn. He makes his debut on Saturday’s program.

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It helps that Brooks likes to talk. While taping an interview with singer Carrie Underwood, he couldn’t keep from ribbing her about a disclaimer she included on her debut album, “Some Hearts.”

Underwood was worried fans might get the wrong idea about “Before He Cheats,” a dark song about a woman so angry with her boyfriend that she takes a key to the side of his car.

Brooks had a field day with it: “I like how you keyed somebody’s car in that song — and you seem like such a nice person.”

“I never actually keyed anybody’s car,” Underwood shot back, laughing.

Brooks: “I know, but ... you went on a little bit too long about it. ... By the time you got done I was like ’Wow, she really did key somebody’s car.”’

The syndicated “American Country Countdown” runs down Billboard magazine’s Top-40 country songs. ABC promotes it as the longest-running and most-listened to countdown show in the nation, with more than 400 radio stations broadcasting it.

Brooks replaces longtime host Bob Kingsley on the weekly, four-hour program.

“He knows the music. He knows the songs. He knows the people. He knows the life. But especially, he knows the stories — and the artists and fans just seem to take him places they wouldn’t most other people,” said John McConnell, senior vice president of ABC Radio Networks.

This gig isn’t completely new to Brooks. He has a degree in communications and once worked as an overnight disc jockey in Portland, Maine. Over the years, he and Dunn have been guests on many, many radio programs, including this one.

Brooks admits he was often envious of the hosts.

“It was a little frustrating doing those shows where you get to talk about your record and maybe one other and then you’ve got to leave,” he said. “I’d be sitting there looking at the list and thinking, ’Man, I wish I could talk about what we did on tour together back in ’98’.”

But he promises to use some restraint as well. He says there’s a fine line to tread and, as a performer, he has a pretty good idea where that is.

“Obviously, I don’t want to delve into people’s personal lives where I don’t have any business, but at the same time there is a lot of stuff that goes on in the performance of it and things that happen that are a lot of fun and that people tell stories on all the time.”

People like Brooks.