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Ryan Secrest ( 1974 - )  Category ( Television_Personalities ) [suggest a correction]
 

Ryan SecrestThese days, it seems, Ryan Seacrest is everywhere. He's in our faces, our computers and -- especially if we live within audio range of Los Angeles radio station KIIJ -- our ears.

Fifteen years after first arriving in Hollywood from his native Georgia and scoring his first major on-air job as host of "Gladiators 2000," Seacrest has worked his way up to an estimated $31 million-a-year income from various sources. He owns restaurants in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and presides over a men's clothing line.

Among other things, Secrest has become the face of two of America's most watched spectacles -- "American Idol" and "New Year's Rockin' Eve." He joined the former in 2002, just before it exploded to the top of the ratings, and became the New Year's Eve host in 1975 after Dick Clark suffered a stroke.

Interestingly, Seacrest has succeeded both of his boyhood idols, Clark and Casey Kasem (inheriting Kasem's "American Top 40" radio show).

"When I first moved to Hollywood," he told Larry King in 2004, "the first person I wanted to meet wasn't a movie star. It was Casey Kasem."

For even with all his current face time, Secrest's roots are really in radio. He did his first on-air gig with an Athens radio station while he was a student at the University of Georgia, and still does a regular morning shift on a Los Angeles station.

A profile of Secrest in Esquire magazine described his voice this way: "It is not a versatile or interesting voice - expunged of all traces of any but the most generic middle-American accent, it is the aural equivalent of a bag of fast-food fries - but it is quick and, in a familiar sort of way, engaging."

Secrest was born the day before Christmas in Dunwoody, GA. In high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and captained the swimming team. He left the University of Georgia early, and with his pleasant face, swimmer's physique and DJ's gift of gab, made a quick impression in Hollywood.

Among those he impressed was Merv Griffin, who hired Seacrest to host his quiz show "Click." That program was short-lived, but opened a door for Seacrest that led to "American Idol." The first season, Secrest co-hosted with comedian Brian Dunkelman, then flew solo after that.

"New Year's Rockin' Eve," he has said, "was on my life's list to do. It's electric in Time's Square that night."

Secrest had to soft-pedal his initial interaction with Clark, who struggled to speak coherently. This was in contrast to "American Idol," where Secrest famously spars with celebrity judge Simon Cowell.

Most of the time, it's hard to tell if the prickliness is staged or real. In Ryan Secrest's world, it really doesn't matter.


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