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Two Lost Voices – Rush & The King

February 19, 2021

In what feels like a lifetime ago, nearly thirty years ago, I worked at KPRL Radio in Paso Robles, California. I thought radio was going to be the way I made a living. After all, I was told more than once I had a face made for radio. As it turned out, I had a voice made for newspapers. But I digress…

KPRL Radio was a mixed format radio station at the time. News early in the morning. Talk from mid-morning to lunchtime. An hour of news. Another hour of talk, followed by a few hours of music. Evening drive-time news, a couple of hours of music, and then talk from early evening until the point when I would play the legal notices, the Star Spangled Banner, and then turn off the transmitter. California Angels baseball during the summer. High school football in the fall. Los Angeles Lakers basketball during the winter. It was a potpourri of programming designed to be a public service to the community.

During the course of the broadcast day (via the magic of satellite and syndication) four giants of the radio world contributed to the programming. Two of them have been gone for a long time: Paul Harvey, who was famous for his News & Comment and the Rest of the Story. And Chick Hearn, the long-time announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers who’s idioms are now common place in the vernacular.

But two of them have just recently left us. Larry King and Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh was on in the morning so I rarely got to listen. And for the most part, that was okay. I didn’t agree with his politics. I didn’t agree with his intolerance. But he was a massively talented broadcaster. And like him or hate him, he forced you to have an opinion. He changed radio and may have been responsible for saving AM radio as a going concern.

Larry King was on during the evening when I was running the board. His talent as an interviewer has been trumpeted loudly since his passing. And he was incredibly talented. But what nobody talks about is the hour of open phones he had every night where he engaged with Americans from sea to shining sea. Every night was interesting. And I was getting paid to listen to four hours of it every night. Absolutely amazing.

Neither of these men were perfect. I’ve shared my opinion of Rush. Larry stretched the truth a bit. But their mark on radio was undeniable. To lose both of them less than 4 weeks apart is amazingly sad.

Rest in peace, Gentlemen.

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