A couple of years ago, I got my big break in broadcast as a sports reporter for Comcast SportsNet in Washington, DC. My on-air job was the fan reporter for the "Redskins Kickoff" pre-game show. Then, behind the scenes, I'd do locker room interviews with the Redskins and Washington Capitals... a task that I sometimes found to be a wee bit intimidating.
Larry King was a guest on one of our shows, Washington Post Live, via satellite, but what I learned from his interview impacted me as if he were right there at our studios in person. Larry King spent some time as a sports reporter too. During the interview, he told the host, Ivan Carter, something that I always keep in mind to put me at ease even when asking questions to the toughest of athletes:
He stated that "The locker room is the easiest of all. The drama is in front of you. You just saw what happened." Easy enough! He also said that his biggest piece of advice was that "The only secret in the business is that there's no secret... just be yourself".
So simple and so genious. How could I ever be nervous before a locker room interview again? (Well, Albert Haynesworth after a loss is still someone I'd like to stay away from...but aside from that...)
King also said "I never learned anything when I was talking". I lesson to listen that we could all take to heart.
Larry King Live tapes it's final broadcast tonight on CNN. For years I've enjoyed watching his show and will miss his constant presence on the air. In the process of conducting over 50,000 interviews with everyone from presidents, movie stars, and cultural icons... King became a legend in his own right and someone I will always look up to.
Larry King was part of the Conversation Series at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs and a good portion of his session is posted on YouTube. I definitely advise aspiring journalists to check out the clips.