Open main menu

Larry King Show

  (Redirected from The Larry King Show)

The Larry King Show was a national radio talk show hosted by Larry King which aired 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 interviewing Vladimir Putin


In 1978, King went from a local 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] 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. 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. Production of the show soon moved to Mutual's main studios in Crystal City, Virginia near Washington, D.C.[4] and it rapidly developed a large and devoted audience.[5]

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.[6][7] King said "The less I know, the better I feel about a person or book."[8]

King recalled that due to the number of calls coming in on the early days of the show "there was more than one occasion when [area code] 703 blew".[5] King said that he originally wanted a toll-free phone number for call-in, but came to believe that he got a better quality of calls when the callers had to pay for them.[8] The show was successful, starting with relatively few affiliates and eventually growing to more than 500, when King stepped down from the show in 1994.[9] In 1985, King began appearing on television with Larry King Live for CNN; he would continue to broadcast his Mutual radio show later in the evening.[7]

C-SPAN would annually record, and then repeatedly show, an entire program on cable TV.[10] 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).[11][12]

Open Phone AmericaEdit

At 3 a.m., King would allow callers to discuss any topic they chose with him,[5] until the end of the program, when he expressed his own political opinions. That segment was called Open Phone America. 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.[13]

Callers to the show would be told (on air) to call the number and "When the connection rings, let it ring. We'll answer when it's your turn."[14] Some of King's regular callers used pseudonyms, or nicknames given by King such as "The Numbers Guy",[15] "The (Syracuse) Chair",[16] "The Portland Laugher,"[5][17] "The Scandal Scooper,"[8] "The Miami Derelict,"[18] "The Todd Cruz Caller," "The Water Is Warm Caller", and "Mr. Radio". "Mr. Radio" made over 200 calls to King during Open Phone America.[citation needed]


King would occasionally entertain the audience by telling amusing anecdotes from his youth and early career in radio, such as a story about him and his friends faking the death of a schoolmate, or his popular Carvel ice cream story (which turned out to be, at best, partly untrue) .[19][20] The show also occasionally featured a "fictional alien, Gork of the planet Fringus",[21] "who supposedly existed one year in the future, giving highlights of the coming year on Earth". During the early years of the program, King would occasionally play music featuring the "Mutual Symphony Orchestra".[22][23]

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.[24] In 1993, Mutual moved the Larry King Show to an 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[25] 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.[26][27] Mutual affiliates were given the option of carrying the audio of King's new CNN evening television program. The Westwood One radio simulcast of King's CNN show continued until December 31, 2009.[28]


  1. ^ a b "Listen! You're going to hear things you've never heard before". Photo Gallery. Retrieved 20 November 2014. External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ "The Peabody Awards - The Larry King Show".
  3. ^ "Mutual Broadcasting System". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  4. ^ "The Nine Lives Of Larry King". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "Midnight Snoozer". Harvard Crimson. November 22, 1982.
  6. ^ "Larry King Mutual Radio 1982". YouTube.
  7. ^ 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. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2014-11-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Larry King Radio Show in 1982". YouTube. C-SPAN. External link in |publisher= (help)
  11. ^ "Day Larry King - Video -".
  12. ^ "Larry King Show - Video -".
  13. ^ "Listeners pay close attention to late-night radio broadcast". Gettysburg Times. March 22, 1982. p. 13.
  14. ^ "Larry King radio broadcasting nostalgia". Archived from the original on February 28, 2011.
  15. ^ "Technical Correction / "The Numbers Guy" And Wall Street". SFGate. November 21, 2000.
  16. ^ King, Larry (2010-04-20). My Remarkable Journey. ISBN 1602861234. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  17. ^ King, Larry (2010-04-20). My Remarkable Journey. ISBN 1602861234. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  18. ^ King, Larry; Yoffe, Emily (1984). Larry King. ISBN 9780425068311.
  19. ^ King, Larry (2010-04-20). My Remarkable Journey. Google books. ISBN 1602861234.
  20. ^ "The Nine Lives Of Larry King". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  21. ^ "King of the Brooklyn Celebrity Path". Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
  22. ^ "Larry, Sylvia, and Gork". International Skeptics Forum.
  23. ^ King, Larry; Yoffe, Emily (1984). Larry King. ISBN 9780425068311.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-08-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Larry King Will Be Heard In Daytime, But Barely". Sun Sentinel.
  26. ^ "Today's Talk-Radio Topic: The Future of Talk Radio". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ "Latest Radio News, Talk Shows, Sports, Hosts, Personalities -". All Access.
  28. ^ "Westwood One Ends Larry King Show Simulcast". Radio Syndication Talk.