Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Larry King: The Game, The Brand And What Little I Knew Of The Man

by Mel Dyer

I was Larry King's FIRST intern, from Howard University - from a little office in Howard's School of Communications, where the now legendary career guidance counsellor, Ms. Carol Dudley, ..launched Titans into the world of men.

Sometimes, the miracles that Ms. Dudley (to whom I am eternally grateful) created there, ..changed the world. Sometimes, they changed us ..and how we saw our place in it.

Larry King, with B. B. King, at the legendary Mutual Broadcasting System, in Virginia's Crystal City district (from Arlnow.com)

I recall much of the summer of 1993, that I spent, working for him and his producers, Mr. Pat Piper and Ms. Judy Thomas, who was also his personal and executive assistant. I remember the day that he told me I could call him 'Larry', ..instead of the more deferential 'Mr. King', which I, being an old-fashioned son of Mexican and Afro-American parents, ..preferred. We had a few, brief conversations, over the course of my summer internship - he was a very busy man - so, while I barely knew him, I admired his professionalism, boundless curiosity and his fearlessness, as a journalist. I also very much appreciated his unpretentiousness, as a human being, something he shared with Pat Piper and Judy Thomas...

And a truly rare thing in Washington. Anyone, who's been here, longer than five minutes, can attest to this.

Never saw Larry King indulge a self-glorifying, primadonna (diva) moment, the entire time I worked for him; yet, he found time to tell me I made "one helluva' cup of coffee", ..which, with him recently recovering from a heart attack, ..was decaf. I share this about Larry, because I feel that it distinguished him...something about him; he didn't freely dispense unsolicited advice, but, instead, ..encouraged you to keep doing something, you were doing well...something useful. Anyone, whoever listened to his radio show, more than five times, was left with the impression that this was how he chose to relate to the world around him. He never prodded the famous subjects (a few of them, personal friends) of his interviews, be they heads of state or popstars, ..to do something that might impress or please Larry - that they should play that part in that movie, ..or that they should declare war on that country.

Instead, he invited them to stand in their cosmically appointed spaces ..and to tell us who they were. He invited and allured them to tell us the story of how they came to be, what it meant to them ..and why we should or shouldn't care. That was the 'Larry King' brand, as I see it. It was the grimy frankness of New York City and all of the mercilessly hot nights that he spent, as a young man, in nondescript radio stations in 1970s Florida, ..minting and building the brand. That was the game, and that, for what little I knew of him, personally, ..was the man.

I am so grateful for the summer that Mrs. Carol Dudley gave me with this radio and television legend. I regret that I won't get to see Larry King, again, ..if only to thank him for making me a small part of his story.

That's all I got, folks. Read more about it, on NBC News.

Edgar Miraculous (Mel) Dyer, without his fine, coyote-hatinGoldiweillerKirby (now moved on to that big, coyote-hatin' hate group in the Sky) continues a somewhat bleaker, dogless existence in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, DC. He has been an active member of the Latino Citizens of the Capitol Hill Area and the Kiwanis Club of Capitol Hill.