In recent weeks, radio said goodbye to a pair of iconic personalities on the airwaves: Larry King on Jan. 23 and Rush Limbaugh on Feb. 17.
Being a radio “veteran” myself — from positioning my 6-transistor AM radio on the handlebars of my bike to listening to Detroit Tigers baseball broadcasts late at night as a kid to recording Paul Harvey segments for later replay and being on the mic and “running the board as a show producer,” and being a daily listener to some AM and FM offerings, I feel capable of commenting on what those two talk legends meant to me.
Rush Limbaugh: First off, I was never a fan or a “ditto-head.” I would have liked to have known him from 1979-84, when he spent five seasons as a promotions director and later head of group sales and marketing for the Kansas City Royals, after what I read in “Pine Tar Game,” by Filip Bondy.
I would have had a lot more fun listening to his baseball tales and his earliest days in radio — he’d once been known as Rusty Sharpe at the age of 16 in Cape Girardeau, Mo. He later told Fox News, “My reason for liking radio was two-fold: I love music and I hated school.”
His love of music had him changing the tunes played at Royals’ home games from all organ to jazz, a KC staple. He played flag football on Thursdays with front-office staff of the Kansas City Chiefs, and became a great friend of eventual hall-of-famer George Brett, to the extent of playing golf with No. 5 and even heading to Arlington, Texas, for Brett’s final big-league ballgame.
I often listen to KKOB-AM on my way to work, checking on traffic and other stuff by host Bob Clark — a former co-worker of mine when I worked at KOB-TV 30 years ago — and later in the afternoons at my desk. But right after the 10 a.m. news, I’m off — there would be no Rush for me.
And, I’d like to ask, why did he have a Canadian guy (Mark Steyn) fill in for him, not only when he was going through his arduous cancer treatments but also following his passing?
I’m just not a fan of a guy who seemed to hate everything and everyone not Republican. Then, again, I’m more of a sports guy than a political guy.
He is credited with coining the term “femi-nazi” and had to resign from “NFL Countdown” after implying that Black quarterbacks owed their jobs to political correctness.
Someone also said that if it hadn’t been for Limbaugh, AM radio would have died.
No, not as long as so many sports teams across the country have their games aired — and that began well before Limbaugh was born, much less yakking on the radio.
Larry King: Originally Larry Ziegler from Brooklyn and a boyhood buddy of Sandy Koufax, King was a regular guy.
Maybe not that “regular”: He was married eight times to seven women.
From what I know about him, he never fully prepared for an interview, no matter who was on the other side of the desk or on the line.
In a way, I’m like that — I rarely have a list of too many prepared questions, because often the response from one of my questions leads into another question I couldn’t have anticipated, had I not been listening and merely set to ask the next prepared question.
King also had a column in USA Today, which began back in 1982. It used to be my favorite newspaper and, if you remember it, you’ll know why. King used that “dot-dot-dot” (…) style, reminiscent of legendary Walter Winchell, in his ramblings.
My best memories of King all come from road trips to visit spring training camps in the Valley of the Sun, basically from the mid-1980s into the 1990s … 22 baseball trips in all.
Often, I’d be packed and ready to head to Arizona, frequently taking the US 60 route off I-25 at Socorro right into Phoenix, rather than I-40 to Flagstaff and south from there. Much of the way, I’d be tuned to KKOB, where King had a late-night talk show.
I can’t actually recall specifically any of the interviews, just that I was entertained and had often learned something new before the signal faded or his show ended — and, in that case, Jim Bohannon was on, and I’m still a fan of his.
As much as I enjoyed King on the air, I also read quite a few of his books. They were written the same way he spoke — light-hearted, sometimes funny, nothing that evoked, “Hey, I’m Larry King and you’re just a nobody.”
I’m sure more people, especially those of the GOP mind, will miss Rush more than Larry.
But I think you’ll know which guy I’ll miss more — my traveling “speaker-buddy” on my way to Arizona.
RIP, both of you.