Larry King with Sofia Dickens of EQtainment and Vanessa Lachey

Larry King interviewing Sofia Dickens and Vanessa Lachey about EQtainment

Today’s podcast guest is a global icon, a broadcasting giant and a master communicator. He has interviewed over 60,000 of the world’s most fascinating, most influential people, and while he is certainly one of them, he somehow remains understated and humble in his outlook.

My husband Reed and I were fortunate to become friends with Larry King and his wife Shawn years ago. Reed has been a frequent guest on Larry’s show — formerly Larry King Live, and now the even more broadly distributed Larry King Now and PoliticKing on Hulu — for ten years. Talking with Larry over breakfasts and dinners is like having a private audience with a national treasure, whether he’s telling stories about his time with the Kennedys in the 1960s, peace talks with Middle Eastern leaders in the ’90s, or his awesome boys Chance and Cannon. I hope to share some of Larry’s insight with you in our quest to gain parenting wisdom from the world’s greats. Enjoy!

-Sofia

 

SD: At EQtainment, we teach kids through fun and entertainment how to be resourceful and persistent. I know you’ve had to go after so much that you’ve achieved. Can you tell the story of how you began your career?

LK: I had the misfortune of losing my father when I was 9 ½ years old and my brother was 6 ½.  My mother had to raise us as a single mother. We were on relief — New York City bought my first pair of glasses, they paid our rent. So it was really rough times. But I always wanted to be on the radio. I never went to college, I had to help support my mother, so I had a bunch of odd jobs. When I was 22 — my brother had gotten out of college, so he was able to help my mother — a friend introduced me to the head of the CBS staff announcers. He told me to go to Miami, that there were a lot of young people breaking into radio there. So I went. I knocked on doors, and a small radio station on Miami Beach gave me a voice test and said they would hire me for the next opening. I hung around the station all the time learning, watching people, and then finally, on a Friday afternoon, the general manager called and said, this guy’s quitting, you start on Monday. I was so thrilled. The whole weekend I couldn’t sleep. Monday morning I got to the station four hours early. I’m just excited beyond belief. Now I get in the studio, I play the music, I turn on the microphone and nothing comes out. If you’re listening at home, all you hear is the record going up and down. And I look at the clock, and it’s, like, 3 minutes after 9, and I say to myself, well, I just didn’t have the guts to do this. I wanted it, but I’m just too nervous. And the general manager kicks open the studio door and says, “This is a communications business, dammit, communicate!” And so I turned on the mic, and I did something that day that I’ve done all 60 years since, I told the truth. I said, “Good morning, my name is Larry King. All my life I’ve wanted to be on the radio, this is my first day ever, I’ve been up all weekend, I’m nervous, please bear with me, I’m gonna do the best I can.” And I was never nervous again. Years later, Jackie Gleason would tell me, you learned the secret of this business, which is, there is no secret. Be yourself.

 

I love that you went after it and did something that you were afraid of. And I think that’s a great message for kids today. They need to learn how to take on new challenges without the fear of messing up.

My mother must have done something right. She always encouraged me. If you want something, nothing should stop you. I believe you can teach that. You’ll have failures, failures are very good. It’s good to get knocked down. You’ll learn something every time you have a down. It leads to an up. And I’ve always gotten up off the floor.

 

You’ve interviewed 60,000 of the world’s most interesting people. So what are the commonalities among successful people?

Successful people have different personalities, different beginnings, but one thing they all have is that they’re driven by their passion. If you want to be a carpenter, be the best carpenter. If I want to be a broadcaster, be the best broadcaster. Strive to do whatever you want to do. All successful people have that passion that keeps them going.

 

When your teenage boys were born, you had already raised three kids. Were there things that you changed when you got a second chance to do it with the boys?

With my three children who are now 62, 57 and 49 — I’m 83 — I was an absentee father. I was so career oriented. The two younger boys I’ve given much more time. This marriage has lasted 19 years, which is longer than other marriages I’ve had, and I’ve been around them more. And I’ve learned that they’re the most important thing. More important than a job, more important than money, more important even than a marriage. I’m always there for them, and I support them. I have a sense of humor, which I think helps a lot. What makes a strong, good parent? I think it’s teaching and being involved. My children are going to carry on; I’m not going to be here, but I leave them with a legacy.

 

What is the legacy you want to leave behind for your kids?

Be curious, open, honest and never afraid to take risks. Nat King Cole told me once, There are two kinds of people in the world: Ninety-eight percent sit on the porch and watch the fox hunt. And whoever catches the fox, they applaud. Two percent chase the fox. He said, I always chase the fox. That’s what I’ve done all my life too. So if I leave a legacy to them, it would be: Chase the fox.

 

To hear more of Larry King’s story, including how he got his iconic name, download the free Q Wunder app!

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