Larry King's Long Career Began in Florida


MIAMI -- Larry King, a broadcasting icon with a long career centered on off-the-cuff interviews, passed away after developing COVID-19, as his social media announced Saturday.

Before he ascended to national prominence, King spent two decades as a radio personality in South Florida.

King, then still known as Larry Zeiger, moved to Miami from Brooklyn in 1957 at the age of 23, after hearing it was a good place to break into radio. He became the overnight disk jockey at WAHR (now WMBM). He worked at various stations before arriving at WIOD in 1962. At WIOD, he began to develop his interview style with a live remote talk show from Pumpernik's deli. King would interview almost anyone in the room, from waiters to celebrities. His style enabled him to land interviews with major celebrities of the era who lived in or visited Miami, including Jackie Gleason and Frank Sinatra.

King's first stint at WIOD ended with an arrest for grand larceny in 1971. Although the charges were dropped, he found himself unable to get work and briefly moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he called games for the local team in the short-lived World Football League.

King was welcomed back to WIOD in the mid-seventies. His show caught the attention of an executive at the Mutual Broadcasting System who was visiting south Florida, leading to a national overnight radio show based in Washington starting in 1978. It ran for more than 15 years and paved the way for modern talk radio syndication.

That radio show, in turn, led to King's being tagged for a CNN show that began in 1986 and ran for more than two decades.

(Fixing start year for CNN show.)

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