Larry King is no longer with us. He was a broadcaster and interviewer who became a huge pop-culture figure, and did so in a non-flashy way: he talked to people, on the radio then on CNN as well. He spoke to those from many levels of society, from regular citizens to presidents; he then did so in films. I first heard of him with his cameo in Ghostbusters, talking about people who believed the Ghostbusters were hucksters. (He delivered a plot point!)
I've been hearing stories about King's work, his generosity, his sense of humor (he really had a unique laugh), his sincerity, and his attention to detail: I hadn't known, for instance, that he invested in a Los Angeles bagel shop that used a water filtration process to make bagels as much like New York-made bagels as possible. But I did know this:
After first getting national fame with his late-night radio call-in show, King added his evening interview program on CNN. He'd do the TV show at CNN's Washington, D.C. studio, then cross the Potomac to broadcast from Rosslyn, Virginia. One time in the early Nineties, he did a special run of radio shows: every night without weekends off for 30 days.
Where on the last night before he'd take days off, after tackling such topics as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about an alleged group called "The Club" and then later mishearing a caller's question, he wound up rambling about how tired he was and how he'd push through his exhaustion to finish, "’cause I'm a pro." Listen to it: the clip, beginning with the question he heard wrong, is a little surreal...and, to me, kind of beautiful. (And funny, too.)
I memorized that ramble, and can still recite it. (Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara, the longtime DJ team I started listening to in the Eighties, got a copy of the ramble and were delighted by it. They played it, and annoyed their acquaintance King enough that King stopped talking to them.) Parts of it are almost Zen.
May your memory be a blessing, Mr. King.