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If you like Larry King's story, you might also like:
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Charles Kuralt,
Ted Turner,
Mike Wallace and
Oprah Winfrey

Larry King also appears in the video:
Making a Better World: What is Your Responsibility to the Community?

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Larry King
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Larry King Interview

Broadcasters' Hall of Fame

June 29, 1996
Sun Valley, Idaho

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  Larry King

You can't possibly have foreseen as a young person what would happen to you, because what you do didn't exist when you were a youngster.

Larry King: No, certainly not. No international satellite hookups, no CNN. Although I will tell you this:

When I was 5 years old I would lie in bed, look at the radio, and I wanted to be on the radio. I don't know why. I was magically attuned to it. I would listen to these voices, and then as I got a little older -- and just a little older, 7 or 8 -- I would imagine myself doing what they were doing. I would actually stand up, sit down, I'd go to the mirror, and I would say, "The Romance of Helen Trent," as if I were the announcer. Then I would go to baseball games and I'd roll up the score card, and I'd sit up in the back row, and all my friends would look up at me, and I'd broadcast the game to myself. I fantasized being a broadcaster.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

Larry King Interview Photo
I'd go into New York and watch radio shows. Brooklyn was separate. When you lived in Brooklyn you didn't say, "Manhattan." You said you went into New York. So we went into New York and I'd go watch The Children's Hour and The Armstrong Radio Theater or Bob and Ray.

How old when you started doing that?

Larry King: Twelve or 13. When I finished high school, I didn't have good enough grades to go to college, my father had died when I was young, and I had to help my mother, so I worked a bunch of odd jobs. I worked on the United Parcel Service truck, I sold home delivery of milk. But always, in the back of my mind, I wanted to get into radio.

Once I worked for Associated Merchandising Corporation at 1440 Broadway. And that was a company that factored the sale of goods, and you had to call up and get credit lines. I was a mail clerk. But in that building was WOR. And WOR was on the 22nd floor, and we were on the 3rd floor. And almost five or six times a day I would take the elevator up to the 22nd floor and pretend that I was an announcer. Like going down in the elevator to go out to lunch. And sometimes when I'd get on the elevator, some announcers would walk on. And I'd hear them talk, and I just wanted to do that. I just wanted to be that.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

So I literally fantasized myself into it. Every dream I had when I was 18 came true. Every logical dream, that is. I wanted to be in radio. I wanted to be in television. I wanted to be a communicator. I wanted to do sports, I got a chance to do a lot of sports. I didn't know that I'd be an interviewer, per se, but I knew I wanted to broadcast.

Herbie, my best friend, his father, Morris, used to walk with me down the street. I'd be 18 years old, just out of high school. All the other kids were going to college, and I was working at the United Parcel Service. And I was always telling everyone, "I want to be a broadcaster." And he would walk with me down the street and put his arms around me and would actually say, "What, are you nuts? What, are you a pipe dreamer? What, are you crazy? What, you're going to be Arthur Godfrey? You're not going to be Arthur Godfrey. Get a job with a future!"

[ Key to Success ] Vision

Finally, when I was 22, I went down to Miami and started knocking on doors.

Larry King Interview Photo
Why did you go to Miami?

Larry King: It's a funny story. I forget the circumstances, it could have been in the WOR building. But I ran into a guy named James Sirmons, who was chief staff announcer at CBS. That's when they had staff announcers. All they did was station breaks and say, "Now, Arthur Godfrey." I wouldn't have even known him by sight. But someone introduced me and I said, "Mr. Sirmons, I've always wanted to be in radio. You got any suggestions?"

He said, "Well kid, I'd go down to Miami. They've got a lot of stations, non-union, don't pay a lot. So, they've got to get very young guys, or old guys who are hanging it up on the way out, alcoholics. Go down there and knock on doors."

I went down and knocked on a bunch of doors and, finally, a small station, WAHR in Miami Beach, right opposite the police station. I stayed with my uncle. My aunt had died (my mother's sister), and he had a little apartment. I slept on the couch. I made the rounds, and I couldn't get in the door. But this small station -- a guy named Marshall Simmonds was the general manager -- gave me a mike test and it was the first time I'd ever spoken into a microphone, or been taped.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

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