Larry King Show

The Larry King Show was an American overnight radio talk show hosted by Larry King which was broadcast nationally over the Mutual Broadcasting System from January 1978 to May 1994. A typical show consisted of King interviewing a guest, then taking phone calls from listeners for the guest, and then taking phone calls on any topic.[1] In 1982, the show won a Peabody Award.[2]

King with Hillary Clinton in 1993

OriginEdit

In 1978, King went from hosting a local talk show on station WIOD in Miami, Florida to a national show, inheriting the nightly nationwide talk show slot on the Mutual Broadcasting System, that had previously been hosted by "Long John" Nebel and Candy Jones on the network until Nebel's illness and death, and had been pioneered by Herb Jepko in 1975.[3][4] The main reason King got the Mutual job is that he had once been an announcer at WGMA-AM in Hollywood, Florida, which was then owned by C. Edward Little.[citation needed] Little went on to become president of Mutual and he hired King as Nebel's replacement.

King's debut program on Mutual was broadcast from Miami on January 30, 1978, where his first guest was Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula. After nine weeks production of the show moved to Mutual's main studios in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia near Washington, D.C.[5][6][7] He started with 28 stations[8] and rapidly developed a large and devoted audience[9] who became known as "King-aholics".[6] The show was initially "offered on a barter basis so stations could trade advertising time for the opportunity to carry the show", providing stations with a low cost overnight show.[10]

Show formatEdit

Mutual broadcast the show live Monday through Friday from midnight to 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time. King would interview a guest for the first hour, with callers asking questions that continued the interview for another 2 hours.[1] When he interviewed authors, King said that he would not read their books in advance, so that he would not know more about the book than his audience.[11][12] King said "The less I know, the better I feel about a person or book."[6]

King recalled that due to the number of calls coming in during the early days of the show "there was more than one occasion when [area code] 703 blew".[9] King said that he originally wanted a toll-free telephone number for call-in, but came to believe that he got a better quality of calls when the callers had to pay for them.[6] The show was successful, starting with relatively few affiliates and eventually growing to more than 500, when King retired from the show in 1994.[13] In 1985, King began appearing on television with the interview program Larry King Live for CNN; he continued to broadcast his Mutual radio show later in the evening.[12]

During the 1980s, C-SPAN would annually record, and then repeatedly show, an entire broadcast of the Larry King Show on cable TV.[14] Some years, C-SPAN would simulcast the Mutual radio broadcast, so that TV viewers could watch the show live (as radio listeners normally heard it).[15][16]

King said that his two most difficult interviews were Demond Wilson and Robert Mitchum. Wilson did not want to be there, and Mitchum gave one word answers, said King in a 1990 interview.[17][18] Interviewee Rod McKuen offered to send a copy of his latest album to any listener who proved the bought the book by sending him the inside cover flap; he ended up receiving 289,000 flaps.[19] The show had attempted to book Ted Turner, when he did appear on the show he recruited King to come to CNN and do a show that would become Larry King Live.[7]

Open Phone AmericaEdit

At 3 a.m., King would allow callers to discuss any topic they chose with him,[9] until the end of the program, when he expressed his own political opinions. That segment was called Open Phone America.[20] Many stations in the western time zones would carry Open Phone America live, followed by the guest interview on tape delay. Thus listeners from across the country could call into Open Phone America.[21] As the show became successful, King was able to favor stations which carried his whole show live, as when he switched his Los Angeles carrier to KMPC from the more powerful KFI.[10]

Callers to the show would be told (on air) to call the number and "Let the connection ring. We'll answer when it's your turn."[22][23] Some of King's regular callers used pseudonyms, or nicknames given by King such as "The Numbers Guy",[24] "The (Syracuse) Chair",[25] "The Portland Laugher",[9][26] "the Whittier Whistler",[20] "The Scandal Scooper",[6] and "The Miami Derelict".[27]

HumorEdit

King would occasionally entertain his audience by telling amusing anecdotes from his youth and early career in radio, such as a story about when he and his friends faked the death of a schoolmate.[28][5][29] In another story, King "ducked out of the studio to romance a lady across town" only to discover that he had left a broken record playing on the air.[20][30] In another, King told of his misadventures trying to sell a baby walker.[31]

King put future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax into his popular Carvel ice cream story.[32] This was later proven to be untrue.[33][34] King later admitted "I should never have done that. I used to do it just to improve my own ego, but it wasn't Sandy."[35] In his 2009 autobiography, King replaced Koufax with "Howie Weiss".[36]

The show also occasionally featured a "fictional alien, Gork of the planet Fringus",[37] "a Brooklyn-accented intergalactic Donald Duck"[20] "who supposedly existed [31 days] in the future, giving highlights of the coming [month][38] on Earth".[39] Gork was voiced by King's long-time friend[20] Herb Cohen.[40][41] During the early years of the program, King would occasionally play music featuring the "Mutual Symphony Orchestra".[42]

Final yearEdit

King's primary guest host since the early 1980s had been Jim Bohannon, who began hosting his own Saturday evening call-in show on Mutual in 1985, with a format identical to King's program.[43] In 1993,[4] in accordance with King's desire to reduce his workload, Mutual moved the Larry King Show to a shorter afternoon time slot and offered King's late evening time slot to Bohannon. Most radio stations with a talk show format at that time had an established policy of broadcasting local programming in the late afternoon time-slot (3 to 6 p.m. Eastern Time) that Mutual now offered King's program. As a result, many of King's overnight affiliates declined to carry the daytime show[44] and it was unable to generate the same audience size.[citation needed] After sixteen years on Mutual, King decided to resign from the program, with his final broadcast heard on May 27, 1994. Mutual gave King's afternoon time-slot to David Brenner.[45][46] Mutual affiliates were given the option of carrying the audio of King's new CNN evening television program. Westwood One (which purchased, then dissolved the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1999) continued to air a radio simulcast of King's CNN show until December 31, 2009.[47]

The George Washington University, in Washington D.C., holds the archives of this show.[48]

SourcesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Listen! You're going to hear things you've never heard before". dcrtv.com Photo Gallery. Archived from the original on 2018-04-02. Retrieved 20 November 2014. Alt URL
  2. ^ "The Peabody Awards - The Larry King Show". 1982.
  3. ^ "Mutual Broadcasting System". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b Fybush, Scott (2021-01-26). "Larry King... Goodbye". RadioInsight. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  5. ^ a b Perry, Nina Diamond (January 31, 1988). "The Nine Lives Of Larry King". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e Davies, Tom (January 4, 1981). "The Radio 'King': From Midnight to Dawn". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Larry King Rose to National Prominence While Living and Working in Arlington". January 25, 2021.
  8. ^ McLellan, Dennis (January 23, 2021). "Larry King, TV broadcaster and talk-show host, dies at 87". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ a b c d Meyer, Thomas J. (November 22, 1982). "Midnight Snoozer". Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original on 2015-06-30.
  10. ^ a b Wagoner, Richard (2021-01-25). "Remembering Larry King and the success of his nationwide radio show – Daily News". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  11. ^ "Larry King Mutual Radio 1982". YouTube.
  12. ^ a b "The Man Who Can't Stop Talking Starting In South Florida, Larry King Has Been Live And On The Air For More Than 30 Years. On Radio And Tv, When The King Of Talk Speaks, The World Listens". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Larry King Bio". Westwood One. Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
  14. ^ "Larry King Radio Show in 1982". YouTube. C-SPAN. Alt URL
  15. ^ "Day Larry King - Video - C-SPAN.org". C-SPAN.org.
  16. ^ "Larry King Show - Video - C-SPAN.org". C-SPAN.org.
  17. ^ "Not All Interviews Are A Ball, King Of Radio Talk Show Recalls - Deseret News". Deseret.com. 1990-10-16. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  18. ^ "Short Takes: King's Fantasy Interview? Jesus". Los Angeles Times. October 15, 1990.
  19. ^ "Wake up to the powerful results of all-night radio" (PDF). Broadcasting: The News Magazine of the Fifth Estate. 1981-07-13. p. 4. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  20. ^ a b c d e Spade, Doug; Clement, Mike (Jan 29, 2021). "Farewell to the King". The Daily Reporter - Coldwater, MI.
  21. ^ Jory, Tom (March 22, 1982). "Listeners pay close attention to late-night radio broadcast". Newspapers.com. Gettysburg Times. p. 13. Archived from the original on 2016-03-13.
  22. ^ "Larry King Show | C-SPAN.org". www.c-span.org. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  23. ^ "Larry King radio broadcasting nostalgia". Archived from the original on February 28, 2011.
  24. ^ Plotkin, Hal (November 21, 2000). "Technical Correction / "The Numbers Guy" And Wall Street". SFGate.
  25. ^ King, Larry (2010-04-20). My Remarkable Journey. ISBN 978-1602861237. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  26. ^ King, Larry (2010-04-20). My Remarkable Journey. ISBN 978-1602861237. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  27. ^ King, Larry; Yoffe, Emily (1984). Larry King. ISBN 9780425068311.
  28. ^ "Larry King - Moppo". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  29. ^ King, Larry (2010-04-20). My Remarkable Journey. ISBN 978-1602861237.
  30. ^ Larry King on Getting Seduced | Blank on Blank. YouTube. 2013-03-19. Transcript. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  31. ^ "Larry King Stories 3 Scoops : Larry King : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  32. ^ "Larry King - The Carvel Story". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  33. ^ Jack Shafer (May 21, 2009). "How can you tell when Larry King is telling the truth?". Slate.com. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  34. ^ Lileks, James (2011-02-24). "Larry King May Be Exaggerating". StarTribune.com. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  35. ^ Heath, Chris (2009-05-01). "The Enduring Larry King". GQ. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  36. ^ King, Larry (2009). My Remarkable Journey.
  37. ^ Parker, Vernon (2010-11-19). "King of the Brooklyn Celebrity Path". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Archived from the original on 2014-11-29.
  38. ^ "Larry King Show. WCAU-AM 1210 Philadelphia. July 2, 1982".
  39. ^ "Larry, Sylvia, and Gork". International Skeptics Forum. 2008-04-01.
  40. ^ Goldfield, David (January 27, 2021). "My Memories of Larry King".
  41. ^ Tobias, Andrew P. (1981). Getting by on $100,000 a Year, and Other Sad Tales. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  42. ^ King, Larry; Yoffe, Emily (1984). Larry King. ISBN 9780425068311.
  43. ^ "Jim Bohannon Bio". Westwood One. Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  44. ^ Jicha, Tom (1992-12-14). "Larry King Will Be Heard In Daytime, But Barely". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2014-12-17.
  45. ^ "Today's Talk-Radio Topic: The Future of Talk Radio". Los Angeles Times. 1994-06-24.
  46. ^ "David Brenner Dies; Top Comedian Hosted Radio Show In '90s". All Access. March 17, 2014.
  47. ^ "Westwood One Ends Larry King Show Simulcast". Radio Syndication Talk. 2009-12-07.
  48. ^ "Larry King show, 1970-ca. 1990 | GW Libraries Archival Collection Guides". Searcharchives.library.gwu.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-04.