If Larry King wanted to add to the abundance of jokes about his longevity, he could give this one — he started out in radio. True, he is best known now for his CNN show Larry King Live, which started out in 1985 and gave his iconic tie-and-suspenders look. Most of his claimed 30,000 interviews did come with CNN, but before all that he was a young disc-jockey for Miami’s WAHR radio station, where he adopted the name of Larry King, on the advice of his manager who suggested his given name Lawrence Ziegler sounded “too German, too Jewish. It’s not show-business enough.”
On this day, May 1, in 1957 Larry King got in front of the microphone for his first radio broadcast, a fulfillment of a dream he harbored since his childhood. Reportedly, King was too nervous to even speak at first, but after his boss burst into the broadcast room and yelled at King “This is the communications business, so communicate!”, he just went on the air to tell viewers how he felt – nervous, and scared, and just yelled at by his boss.
That same year King moved WIOD to host a talk show from a houseboat used by ABC for their television show Surfside 6. King was interviewing celebrities and regular people who made the news, and treated both with the same attention and respect as he is known for today. King’s secret for genuine interest he always displayed was to never prepare much for the interview, he said. Not knowing what his guests are known for forced him “to listen and listen.”