Tag Archives: Radio

Jew of the Week: Larry King

King of Interviews

Lawrence Harvey Zeiger (1933-2021) was born in Brooklyn to Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Belarus. His father died when he was just a child, leaving the family impoverished. Young Larry was fascinated by radio and always wished to become a broadcaster. In Miami, he found a job cleaning at a radio station and, when the station’s broadcaster suddenly left the show, Larry was given a chance to take his place. The manager said “Zeiger” was not a good stage name, so Larry quickly chose “King” (based on an ad he had just seen for King’s Wholesale Liquor store). He got the job to radio DJ for three hours every morning, earning $50 a week. King soon started doing interviews, too, and would occasionally have a celebrity who was in town to do a show. He was then hired as a commentator for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. It was in 1978 when The Larry King Show aired its first episode (on radio). It would be broadcast live every weekday at midnight, starting with a one-hour interview and followed by several hours of discussion. By 1985, King was a household name and was hired by CNN to star in a television version of his interview show. CNN’s Larry King Live went on to set a Guinness World Record as the “longest-running TV show hosted by the same person on the same network”. Many iconic moments took place in his studio, including the Perot-Gore debate of 1993 (which became CNN’s most-watched segment ever), and the joint interview of Rabin and Arafat in 1995. Famous people loved to come on his show because he asked simple questions and made his interviewees feel at ease. He famously avoided reading up on his guests, preferring not to know much about them. King retired in 2010 after 25 years and a whopping 6000 episodes. Over that same time period, he was a regular columnist for USA Today. King went on to do several more popular shows on other networks, including Larry King Now and Politicking with Larry King. Over the years, he made countless appearances in sit-coms, commercials, movies, cartoons, and even the WWE. All in all, King conducted some 60,000 interviews over his career. He won two Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcasting and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. After suffering a heart attack in 1987, King started the Larry King Cardiac Foundation which has donated millions to pay for life-saving heart surgeries for people who cannot afford them. He also helped raise millions for Israel and for Chabad. He generally identified as a “Jewish agnostic” and said several years ago: “I love being Jewish, am proud of my Jewishness, and I love Israel.” Sadly, Larry King passed away earlier this year.

Words of the Week

Everyone loves the truth, but not everyone tells the truth.
– Yiddish proverb

Jews of the Week: Philips Family

Gerald and Anton Philips

Gerald Leonard Frederik Philips (1858-1942) was born in the Netherlands, the son of a wealthy Dutch-Jewish financier (who was the first cousin of Karl Marx). In 1891, inspired by the recent invention of the light bulb, he decided to open his own light bulb and electronics company. His father purchased an abandoned factory where they set up shop and started producing carbon-filament lamps under the Philips brand the following year. The company did poorly, and nearly went bankrupt before younger brother Anton Frederik Philips (1874-1951) joined the business. A great salesman, with terrific innovations of his own, Anton quickly changed the company’s fortunes. Philips got another boost during World War I, when it filled the void left by the embargo on German electronics. By the 1920s, Philips had become a large corporation, and would soon establish the model for future electronics multinationals. After making their own vacuum tubes and radios, Philips’ introduced a new type of electric razor, the wildly popular Philishave. (It was invented by lead engineer and fellow Jew Alexandre Horowitz.) During the Holocaust, the family fled to the United States and ran the business from there. One son, Frits Philips, remained behind, and spent several months in an internment camp. He would save the lives of 382 Jews that he employed in his factory, convincing the Nazis that they would assist the war effort. In 1963, Philips introduced the compact audio cassette, revolutionizing the world of music forever. They did it again less then a decade later with the first home video cassette recorder. In the 1980s, Philips developed the LaserDisc, and together with Sony, brought about the age of the CD. Similarly, in 1997 Philips and Sony developed the Blu-ray disc. Today, Philips is still the world’s largest lighting manufacturer, employing over 100,000 people, with revenues of nearly €25 billion. In 2012, Greenpeace ranked Philips first among energy companies and tenth among electronics companies for their green initiatives and commitment to sustainability. This is very much in line with Gerald and Anton Philips’ original vision. The brothers were noted philanthropists, and supported many educational and social programs in their native Netherlands.

Words of the Week

Incidentally, Europe owes the Jews no small thanks for making people think more logically and for establishing cleanlier intellectual habits – nobody more so than the Germans, who are a lamentably déraisonnable race who to this day are still in need of having their “heads washed” first. Wherever the Jews have won influence they have taught men to make finer distinctions, more rigorous inferences, and to write in a more luminous and cleanly fashion; their task was ever to bring a people “to listen to raison.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

A 1968 Philips audio cassette recorder; a Philips Magnavox video recorder; Philishave rotary razor; and an early LaserDisc player model

Jew of the Week: June Foray

June Lucille Forer (1917-2017) was born in Massachusetts to a Ukrainian-Jewish father and a mother with Lithuanian-Jewish and French-Canadian ancestry. From a young age, she dreamed of being an actress. At 12, she was cast to voice a character in a radio drama. By 15, she had become a regular radio voice actress, and two years later moved to Los Angeles. She soon had her very own radio show, and was known across America as “June Foray”. A decade later, she started working in film, and went on to voice countless beloved characters, including Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella, Witch Hazel in Looney Tunes, as well as Granny (owner of Tweety and Sylvester), Grandmother Fa in Mulan, Aunt May in Spider-Man, and Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Perhaps most famously, she was Rocky the Flying Squirrel (of Rocky and Bullwinkle), and voiced characters in Peter Pan, Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, George of the Jungle, The Smurfs, and The Twilight Zone. Foray also appeared as a guest on The Simpsons, Family Guy, and many other shows. All in all, Foray worked on 19 radio programs, nearly 100 TV shows, and over 100 films. She also appeared in 9 video games, voiced many talking toys, recorded several children’s music albums, and wrote two books. Foray won an Emmy Award for her work, and played a key role in establishing the Annie Awards (for achievement in animation) and creating the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in the Oscars. In fact, she was an Academy board member for 26 years, as well as governor of the Academy for a time. She founded the International Animated Film Society (which later named an award in her honour), and taught voice acting at the University of Southern California. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was featured in a 2013 documentary about her life called The One and Only June Foray. Foray worked well into her 90s, once saying, “My body is old, but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old.” Sadly, Foray passed away last week, just shy of her 100th birthday. She has been called the “actress of a thousand voices” and “the First Lady of Voice Acting”. Click here to see a compilation of her voices.

Words of the Week

You cannot add more minutes to the day, but you can utilize each one to the fullest.
– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe