Sunday, 31 May 2009

Why King is King

Larry King has more than 50 years of radio and television talk show host experience under his suspenders and one of the keys to his success is the absence of Is.

"I is irrelevant in an interview to me," King, who has also written for newspapers, told The Hour's George Stroumboulopoulos during autobiography promotions in Toronto last week.

The late, great Toronto Star sports columnist Milt Dunnell, who died in 2008 at aged 102, had the same philosophy, saying "there is no I in Milt Dunnell."

Hopefully, the large number of radio and TV talk show hosts in Ontario were taking notes while listening to King during his radio and television interviews.

There are far too many self-absorbed windbags in the talk show business, including men and women hosting AM radio talk shows in the GTA.

I this and I that from people who don't know how to conduct a decent interview.

Listen to King. Take tips from the master. Leave the spotlight on your guests and avoid interjecting "I this" comments during interviews.

There are a few particularly annoying talk show hosts on 1010, 640 and 610 who clearly are more interested in talking about themselves than their guests.

Who cares? We don't. Get over yourselves.

We're down to one "I" and we're out of here for radio talk show hosts during interviews. Try it and you will be changing stations frequently.

I-itis, as we call it, is also suffered by print media egotists. If it is not a first-person column or story, they too get a quick glance, a yawn and an adios.


  1. Actually, there is an "i" in Milt Dunnell. It's right after the "M".

    Similarly, I've always been baffled by your motto that there's no "i" in Toronto Sun Family. There is. It's right there after the "m" in Family.

    The reason the slogan "There is no i in team" is so effective is because there *is* no i in team. So the slogan actually works. If you try it with words that actually do have an "i", it just looks like maybe you don't know how to spell.

    No offence to you or to the memory of Milt, but I've always thought a cardinal rule of journalism is to think carefully about what you're actually saying.

  2. I agree to a point. Yes, King doesn't suffer from I-itis but that doesn't compensate for his (often shocking) lack of preparation.

    Example No. 1: When interviewing Olivia Harrison, George's widow, King suggested she must feel special every time she hears Something. King obviously remembered George wrote this song for his wife. But it was written for Patti Boyd, not Olivia. Olivia replied she thinks it's a lovely song, saving King some embarrassment.

    But I almost punched the TV when I was watching King interview Brian Wilson in 2004. King posed one banal question after another and then uncorked a doozy: he asked Wilson if he wrote any of the Beach Boys' hits. Sheez, a browse through Wikipedia would answer that question; besides, how can you have one of the most significant composer-producers of the 20th century on your show and not know your guest, well, writes songs and stuff.

    King's "the master"? Not even close...

  3. To 9:12 p.m.: There is no "I" in surely you jest!

  4. "I" would rather watch a Strombo interview than a King interview any day.

  5. Larry King is the worst interviewer ever! Strombo is not much better. Watch Charlie Rose, that's a man who does great interviews and seems very well prepared

  6. Larry King is a name brand only. His actual interviewing skills are limited at best.

  7. Re: Anonymous said...

    "I" would rather watch a Strombo interview than a King interview any day.
    June 1, 2009 10:53 AM.

    Good one, George!!!