Transcripts > The Tim Ferriss Show > #259: Lessons from 50,000 Interviews: Larry King and Cal Fussman
Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is typically my job to deconstruct world class performers of all different types. Whether they come from the worlds of chess, military, business, entertainment, sports or otherwise.
This time around I’m doing an experiment, and I want you to support a friend of mine. And there’s not much involved, you just have to listen.
Cal Fussman has been on this podcast, @calfussman. Fussman. @calfussman on Twitter. He is a New York Times best selling author and was the writer at large for Esquire magazine, where he was best known for being a primary writer of the What I Learned feature.
What does this mean? He has conducted interviews with icons who have shaped the last 50 to 100 years of world history. Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, the list goes on and on and on. He did his first long-form interview as the interviewee on this podcast. I interviewed him twice. He is an incredible story teller. I have been trying to get Cal to do his own podcast since we first did that, probably a year and a-half, two years ago. So this is what we did for this episode. I said, “Cal, let me take the pressure off rather than over-thinking the podcast, why don’t you interview a friend of yours who I would love to have on the podcast anyway; Larry King. Alright?” So this episode is Cal Fussman interviewing his friend, Larry King. And if you like it, I would love to you to tell Cal, you can just hit him on Twitter, @calfussman, or on his website calfussman.com. But hit him on Twitter and let him know what you think. Encourage him to do a podcast.
My first podcast was a helluva lot rougher than this one that he did with Larry. So Larry King, if you don’t know who he is, is on Twitter @kingsthings or the website you can check out is ora.tv/larryking. Now, he has been dubbed, “The most remarkable talk show host on TV ever,” by TV guide, and “Master of the Mike” by Time Magazine. He has done more than 50,000, that’s right. I think I’ve done a lot with 260-270 podcast interviews, he’s done 50,000 interviews throughout his half-century in broadcasting including exclusive sit-downs with every US president since Gerald Ford. Larry King Live, debuted on CNN in 1985 and ran for 25 years. He has been described as the Mohammed Ali of the broadcast interview and Larry has been inducted into five of the nation’s leading broadcasting Halls of Fame and is the recipient of the Allen H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism, an Emmy, the George Foster Peabody for excellence in broadcasting, 10 Cable Ace awards – it goes on and on. He is also the author of several books including his auto-bio, My Remarkable Journey, and I mentioned the link just a bit earlier. He is currently the host of Larry King Now, which is produced on Ora TV. You can find that at ora.tv/larryking.
Without further ado, here is the conversation between Cal Fussman and Larry King. If you think Cal should do his own podcast, then tell him to not overthink it and to get started and you can hit him up on Twitter, @calfussman, and you can also check out his website, calfussman.com. So, here you go. Enjoy Cal Fussman with Larry King.
Alright, here we go. This is Cal Fussman on his first podcast.
The Fussman Factor.
Can you believe that, Larry.
You should name this, The Fussman Factor. I’ll bet no one has a podcast with a factor cause Bill O’Reilly is out of work.
(laughs) As you can tell, my first guest is no other than Larry King.
Sixty-years on the air. Can you believe it, Cal Fussman?
In a sixth year now, already.
Interviewed more than what, 60,000 people?
That’s the best estimate in almost 61 years. It could be right because I worked radio and did five hours of radio a night, many times having multiple guests and that was five nights a week, five hours of television every week. Yeah a lot. Radio, television, racetrack interviews, afternoon shows, remotes; 60,000 is about right. I’ve had a full career of this.
So this is my first time behind the mike. Thank you Tim Ferriss for giving me the opportunity to guest host the pod cast.
Oh, is this not your podcast?
Well, it’s my podcast but Tim is being kind enough to set it off into the atmosphere.
So this is kind of a ferris wheel?
Oh I love that. He wheeled it over to Fussman. Okay, I get it.
Okay, so this is my first, let’s immediately talk about your first time behind the mike.
Well, there’s a little backstory. I was in love with radio. As a kid, I remember, 5-6 years old, I would listen to the radio, imitate radio downstairs. There would be shows like, “a tale well calculated to keep you in … suspense.” And I would, at five years old, run into the bathroom and, “a tale well calculated the shadow knows.” And I was fascinated. When I was a teen, my father died when I was 9 1/2 and that through a road block into a lot of things. I later couldn’t go to college, I had to help support my mother, but, when I was a teenager, I go into Manhattan. We called it ‘the City.’ We lived in Brooklyn and called Manhattan, saying, “Going to the city.”
I would visit radio shows that had studio audiences. I would watch the announcers read off scripts and drop the paper down, look at microphones and I said, “Boy, I want to do that. I really want to do that.” I caught a bunch of odd jobs after high school, one of which was for the Associated Merchandising Corporation whose offices were at 1440 Broadway on the third floor. On the 20th floor was WOR Radio. Later, when I had a nationally syndicated show, WOR was my New York affiliate. But I would take the elevator up to the 20th floor. There were elevator operators then. I would say to the elevator operator, “Lobby, please.” Pretending I was an announcer.
I fanaticized being an announcer. I worked for United Parcel Service. I worked for Yearns Department Store. And then I …
So you knew this was your destiny.
Yeah, well, I knew it was my destiny. I didn’t know where I’d start. I’m 22 years old. My mother’s not working, had to help support her. My brother’s in college. I’m walking down the street and a friend, I don’t know who it was even, introduced me to a guy named James Sommers, who was Director of Announcers at CBS. I said to him, “I would love to be a radio announcer. What advice can you give me?” He said, “Well, are you single?” And I said, “Yes, I am.” “Try Miami. It’s a big market, a lot of stations, no union, and they might have people, older people on their way out and younger people on their way up. It might be a shot.”
So my uncle, my mother’s sister had passed away and my uncle who owned a tuxedo store in New York had retired down to Miami Beach. He had a little apartment and he said I could stay with him because I had no money. I took a train down to Miami. I think I had $11 or $12 in my pocket and I went to stay with him.
I arrived at the train station, first thing I saw was a water fountain that said ‘Colored’ and ‘White’, two water fountains. I drank out of the colored fountain. I’d never seen a thing like that growing up in New York, couldn’t believe it. I get on a bus to go over to Miami Beach. I’m sitting in the back and the bus driver pulls over and asks me to please move up to the front, the back is for Negroes and the front is for Whites. First day in Miami.
I said, “My father’s Negro. I prefer to sit in the back.” It just annoyed me so much. Anyway, I went over … and I went around the radio stations and they wouldn’t listen to me. I was 22 years old-
You just knocking on doors?
Yeah, no experience, “Do you have any jobs open.” WIOD was one of the first stations I went to where I later worked for 19 years. I went to this small station on Miami Beach, WAHR, went in. Very small station. General manager was Marshall Simmons. Nice guy. He said, “Can I give you a voice test?” He put me into a little studio and a microphone, like this, and he gave me a news analysis to read. And that’s the first time I ever … I read it, and he said, “Well, you have a nice voice and we have a lot of change over here. Very small, we don’t pay a lot. If you want to hang around and watch the announcers work and watch how to get the news, if an opening happens, we’ll give you a shot.” So I hung around, for maybe three, four weeks. I stayed there day and night. I watched the announcers. I watched them rip and read. I would go out with Sonny Hirsch when he did sports interviews. You know, I just was taking it all in. And one day, a Friday, Marshall Simmons, the general manager, called me and he says, “Well, Tom Bayer’s leaving.” Tom Bayer was in an unusual situation. He made 55 dollars a week and his alimony was 60 dollars a week. He figured out once that he could not make it on this. He used to live off coconuts, coconuts from trees. So, he says, “you start Monday morning. You’re on from 9 to 12 in the morning, and in the afternoon you’ll do news and sports.”
So you got your whole weekend to prepare for this-
I went crazy. The whole weekend I had. I went back home. I came back to the radio station Saturday morning, started picking out the music I’m gonna play. Hung around there all Saturday. Sunday, practiced … Went into the little studio. “Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” Les Elgart … “Swinging down the lane.” I’m so excited.
Now it’s Monday morning, May 1, 1957. I get there like six o’clock. I go on at nine. My uncle hugs me in, kisses me, gives me the best. It was a warm, muggy, sunny Miami Beach morning. 840 First Street, right opposite the police station … I would visit there … Last year by the way. It’s another station now. But anyway, I walk in, there’s a secretary comes in about 8:00. Say hello to the all-night guy, and stack up my records I’m ready to play.
Then Marshall Simmons says, “Come into my office,” like quarter to nine. And I go in. He says, “Well it’s your first day on the air, the best of luck to you.” I said “Thank you.” He said “Now what name are you going to use?” I said “What are you talking about?” He says, “Well, Larry Zeiger” … that was my name … “ain’t gonna work.” Now it would work. Now any name would go. Englebert Humperdinck … any name would go. So he says “Zeiger won’t work, it’s a little too ethnic and people won’t know how to spell it. We’ve got to change your name. I said I’m going on the air in 12 minutes and he says “yeah we’ll” … And he had the Miami Herald open. I would later write a column for them. All these things are like miracles. And there was an ad for King’s Wholesale Liquors on Washington Avenue.
So he looks down at that ad?
He looked and said “how about Larry King?” I said “okay, sounds good.” A year later we legally changed it and it’s legally changed in AFTRA. So, if you’re a broadcaster today at an AFTRA station, even if your name is Larry King, you can’t use Larry King because it’s a branded name. Yeah it’s true. And then, when you become famous, no one could ever use it. No one could be Arthur Godfrey or Jackie Gleason, even if your name is Jackie Gleason. If you get a television show you can’t be Jackie Gleason on an AFTRA station. Anyway, so now I got a new name, now I go in. I’m about to go on the air. Nine o’clock I start the record. (singing) I lower the record put on a microphone and nothing comes out.
Nothing comes out of your mouth?
Nothing. I bring the record back up, lower it down, bring it back up, lower it down, and I am panicked. I am sweating. I’m looking at the clock and I literally said to myself, “I can’t do it. I can do a lot of things, but I’m nervous and maybe I can’t. My whole career’s done.” And Marshall Simmons, God rest him, kicked open the door to the control room and said “This is a communications business, dammit! Communicate!” He closed the door, I turned down the record, put the mic on and said, “Good morning. My name is Larry King and that’s the first time I’ve ever said that because I’ve just been given this name. And let me tell you, this is my first day ever on the air and all my life I’ve dreamed of this. When I was five years old I would imitate announcers.”
So the story I just told you, I told the radio audience that day. My father died … “I’m nervous,” I was very nervous here, “so please bear with me.” I played the record and was never nervous again. And later in life, that story I would tell to Arthur Godfrey, Jackie Gleason, others. And they said, well you learned the secret of this business, which is there is no secret. Be yourself. So what I did that day … I wasn’t brilliant. I wasn’t conceiving this … Carried through me for 60 years, which is Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. Don’t be afraid to sound stupid.
What did that teach you about honesty?
Not just honesty, it teaches you a lot about being open and honest on the air. But of course what you do when you do that is you bring the audience into your circumstance. And when you do that, if they like you, you win them. If they don’t like you, they’re not going to like you anyway. You can’t make them like you.
I asked Edward Bennett Williams, the great criminal defense lawyer once, “What’s the number one role of a criminal defense lawyer?” And he said “Put one juror in my client’s shoes.”
How would that play out?
If you could put one client in your client’s shoes, he’ll never vote guilty because he would say I would have done that. Alright? So what I did that day was put the audience in my shoes. And I recommend that. I’ve done a book “How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere.” I do a course. If you’re going to be at your first public speech, you’re scared. Get up and tell them you’re scared. They would understand because they’d be scared too. Bring them into your situation.
I was on the air when we had the earthquake here. I was on television, CNN. Camera’s bouncing around. I’m broadcasting the earthquake. We’re having an earthquake. Desks are flying. I hope we’re still on, if we’re still on … Know what I mean? I was in a station alone during a hurricane and I broadcast the hurricane. For example, we were out of money. It was a cigarette machine and a candy machine. It was just me and the engineer in the station alone. No one could get there. I broke the machine on the air.
They heard you breaking into the machine?
Yeah. Of course I told them my situation, I’ve got no cigarettes and I’ve got no food. I said “Do you want to hear what a hurricane sounds like?” We were the only station in the city WIOD with a generator, an emergency generator. We were the only thing on air. You had to tune to us. So I would go outside, lean the microphone out the window and say “Here’s what it sounds like.” I’d broadcast the hurricane. I just ate it up.
This is the power of storytelling, what you’re talking about.
Yeah and the power is I was always good at that. When I was a kid they called me Zeke, short for Larry Zeiger. I was Zeke, the Creek, the mouthpiece. Because I would, as Herbie said, go to a two hour baseball game and come back and tell the guys about it and take two hours. In other words I was descriptive. I always had the ability … I thought I would be a baseball announcer. That was my goal, to be a sports announcer because I knew I could describe things well in front of me.
Do you think that’s a learned skill or is that something that you just had inside of you?
I have no idea. I think you can teach certain things. You can’t teach a good voice. You could probably help … I never had a voice lesson. I had laryngitis maybe once in the 60 years. I’ve worked sick. When I had a heart attack, I was only off the air ten days. I think one of the reasons for my longevity is the love of what I do. In other words, I may have an unhappy day at home. Things may not go right … I can’t control. But when that light goes on, I control my environment. And how many people get to control their environment? So when I hosted a radio show every night or a television show every day or wrote a column, I controlled the question I would ask. I controlled my environment.
You know it’s interesting you say that because when I was thinking of doing the podcast, one of the things that scared me was, as a writer all those years, I had control of the content. And I can do an interview, but afterwards, I could piece it together to create the story in the best way possible. When you’re doing an interview, certainly that’s live, you don’t have that.
And so I was going to have to give that up in order to do this.
You’ve gotta trust yourself. If you trust yourself, if you say to yourself, I have never said to myself can I ask this. I asked it. You know, I never doubted myself. I don’t have it in social circumstances, I don’t have it in life, I don’t have command of situations, but I trusted myself because I loved it. If you love communicating, a lot of writers aren’t good broadcasters.
Yeah, a lot of them are terrible broadcasters.
Yeah, because they’re used to the comfort of the control and the typewriter and they write it. If, they only said to themselves you know, I control this too. I control it. You do control it. You’re controlling this podcast right now. Not me. You.
They were going to throw him off.
Yeah, you want to tell a little about that and then I’ll take it up to a point where he knew that The Godfather was going to be great, and it speaks to this, what we’re talking about.
I’m trying to remember, I’ve got so many memories.
Okay, what, so Al started and he wasn’t I think the top draft choice for the studio brass.
They wanted Robert Redford.
They went along with it and then in the beginning he was having a hard time grasping the part. Then I believe it was at a point where they were thinking of getting rid of him and he did that famous, where he goes into the bathroom to get the gun-
Gets, get the gun to kill the cop.
That’s right. And he…
Throws the gun away, which was his idea and he had the confidence and they kept him.
That’s exactly it. So, later on the movie’s proceeding and they’re doing the scene where the Godfather is going to be buried. Everybody works through the scene all day, six o’clock everybody’s going home. They’re all walking away and Al’s about to leave and he looks over and he sees Francis Ford Coppola sitting on a gravestone weeping. He walks over and Francis is bawling and he says, “Francis, Francis what’s wrong, are you okay?”, and Coppola says to him, “They wouldn’t give me another set up.” Meaning the brass wasn’t going to pay for him to be able to shoot it again. Al knew this guy is going to make a movie here. Because if you care that much and you have that kind of passion-
See, now I didn’t know that story. So you are telling me that story. I knew the story of they were going to throw him off until he finished that scene. I know Brando, I talked to Brando a lot about it. I know one of the great scenes in The Godfather was totally ad libbed by Brando. That’s the scene right before he dies. He’s sitting with Michael his son, Al, and he’s an old man now. The grandson is playing. That’s where he dies, he falls over playing with the grandson. He’s sitting and the waiter comes by and the scene was, do you want anything else and I say no. He says supposed to both say no. He dismisses the waiter and they keep talking. The waiter comes by for the scene and the waiter says, “You want anything else?”, and Brando out of no where says, “I’ll have some wine.” He looks at Al Pacino and says, “Lately I drink a lot of wine.”
He lifted up, but it’s so fit, he’s old now, he’s not the Mafia Don he once was. “Lately I drink a lot of wine.”
The passion that, that must come from whether you’re Al seeing Coppola on the gravestone or whether you are in that moment and these words just come out of you. It just seems central to what makes people great.
You hit at a great word: Moment. What I’ve tried to do the whole career is be in the moment. So I’m always in the moment. That is if I’ve interviewed Al Pacino yesterday and Barack Obama tomorrow but I’m interviewing you today, I’m totally into you today. I’m not thinking about yesterday. Once, the show is over I never think about it. I don’t listen to it. I know what I did. I don’t have to listen to it. I don’t have to watch it.
Wow. That’s what I need.
Like you won’t have to listen to this podcast, you remember it, you know what you did. What are you going to listen for? Unless, you want to judge it. I don’t. I never have in my life listen to myself. I know, once I’ve done it, because I know I’ve been in the moment. I trust. See the word is trust. I don’t trust myself off the air and that’s weird. I made so many mistakes. Been in debt. Many marriages. Life didn’t always work out for me. Try to be a good father, sometimes was, sometimes wasn’t. But on the air no one ever called me in, in my whole career to say what did you say yesterday?
Well, there was one great story from back in that first station in Miami, you got to tell this.
It’s my favorite Larry King story.
Well, it’s a great story. It’s a true story. But management never really reamed me out. What happened was, I had just started in radio, was on the air two months. I’m working 9 to 12, I’m in the afternoon. So I’m loving every second of it. I mean I can’t wait to get there. I can’t wait to be on. God I loved it. The general manager Marshall Simmons called me in and said Al Fox, the all night guy, is sick tonight would you do the all night show? I said sure. He said well you’ll be here alone, you know, very small station. We don’t have an engineer at night, you just record the meter readings, play music and talk and you’re on from midnight to six. Then you’ll hang around, you’ll be on again at nine and then get some rest.
Oh, boy sure. Man. Now I’m alone in the station. I’m playing records and I’m talking and talking to people, talk about the time and the weather and what’s going on in the world. Because, I’m living every minute of this. Then the phone rings and I pick it up and I say, WAHR, and this woman’s … I could tell you the truth, Cal, I can almost hear it now. This sexy woman voice says, “I want you”. Now remember, I’m 22 years old. I think the pimples on my face are from Hershey Bars. I’m a Jew in heat. This girl, no one has ever said to me, “I want you.” I suddenly said to myself, there are more than two benefits to being in this business. So I said, wh-wh-wh-what you want. She says, “Come over, come over my house”. I said, “I’m on the air.” She said, “well, I get off at six, I’ll be over at six.” She’s, “Well I only live 10 blocks away and I have to go to work at six so it’s now or never. Here’s my address, try to come over.”
I got this moral dilemma now. My career, my radio, but no one has ever said, “I want you”. So here’s what the radio audience heard, “Ladies and Gentleman I’m just filling in tonight. So I’m going to give you a particularly good time here. I’m going to play the entire Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall album uninterrupted.” I had 23 minutes, which is all the time I needed and, which is still true to this day. Anyway I put the record on and we didn’t have tapes then, it was just actual record. Zoom out to the car, drive to her house, there’s the car, she described it in the driveway. I pull into the house, the light is on over the door. I go in, there’s a little dark room and there’s this woman in a white negligee sitting on a couch, she opens her arms, I grab her, I hold her around my cheeks against her cheek, and she’s got the radio on. I’m hearing Harry Belafonte and he says, he’s singing Jamaica Farewell, and he sings (singing) down the way where the nights, where the nights, where the nights … the record gets stuck. I place the girl back at the end of the couch, run out to my car, Jewish masochism, I keep the radio on all the way driving to the station. “where the nights, where the nights, where the nights.” I get in, all the lights are going, flashing from people calling in.
I totally embarrassed. I’m picking up, I’m apologizing to people and the last caller was an older Jewish man, and I just said: “Uh, WHR, good morning.” And all I hear was, “where the nights, where the nights, where the nights, I’m going crazy with we’re the nights.” And I said, “Gee, I’m sorry, why didn’t you just change the station?” And he said, “I’m an invalid and I’m in bed and a nurse takes care of me. She leaves at night, she sets it to your station. The radio’s up on the bureau, I can’t reach it. I’m stuck.” And I said, “Gee, can I do anything for you?” He says, “Yeah, play Hava Nagila.” (laughter) But I didn’t get fired for that.
Another thing that almost got fired, and this was, I don’t know if you even know this story, Cal? I had to make a living, so I was making, like $60 a week from the radio station and I was doing… when I first started on television I was making 100 from that and I was also the announcer at the dog track. There Goes Rusty, Miami beach dog track. It was right near Joe’s Stone Crabs, I used to walk in, look in to Joe’s Stone Crabs window and wonder if I could ever eat there. Anyway …
I was doing three jobs. And this was a New Years Eve, I tape the television show, did my radio show, and did the dog track. Now, the next morning, I’m on. I think I was on that shift, I was on 8-12 or it was 8-11 or whatever it was. So, I’m dead tired and it’s New Years morning, no one at the station and there’s a big, it’s a new station WKUT, and there’s big window doors leading into … You could look up and see the announcer in the station. And I’m so tired and I’m just playing music and talking and “Oh my god, please.”
And nine o’clock Don McNeil and the Breakfast Club goes on, that’s the show from Chicago. It was an hour every day, syndicated. “Good morning breakfast lovers and how de do ya!” At the 9:30 point in that show, Don McNeil would say, “We’ll be back in thirty seconds, this is the ABC Radio Network.” And all I had to do was turn off that mic, turn on my mic and say, “This is WKUT, the big cat in Miami Beach.” And switch that switch back on and go back to Chicago and turn mine off. What I did was he said “This is the ABC Radio Network.” And I turned him off, turned my mic on and fell asleep.
Now, I’m the only one in the station. I’m snoring (snoring) (laughter) Well, anyway, all people at home hear is (snoring). So, they panic. Somebody called the Miami Beach police department and the fire department comes. They look in the window and they see a guy slumped against the microphone and they figure I’m dead, so they take hatchets and break their way in through the window.
And as they break all the hatchets in, I wake up. Now you’re listening on the radio and the firemen are going, “Are you okay sir? What is it?” And I go “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! What the hell’s going on?” All of this is on the air. (laughter) And I look up and it’s like a quarter to ten and I said, “Now back to Breakfast Club.” (laughter) “With Don McNeil.” And the General Manager of the station, Frank Katzemtine, called me in.
Do you think you were gonna get fired?
I think all he said was, “I know you’re glib and I know you’re good, we like your work but give me any reason why I shouldn’t fire ya? Any reason, if it’s within reason I’ll accept it cause I like you. But I gotta fire ya. By all the rules of radio and ethics, I gotta fire ya.” I said to him, “Okay, here’s what I was doing. I was attempting to check the reaction of the Miami Beach Fire and Rescue Department. How quickly can they come to an emergency. They got there pretty fast, we could have a good report on this. I’ll do a little special.” And he said, “You son-of-a-bitch, get out of here.” But I had to pay for the window. He took out ten dollars a week out of my salary ‘til the window was paid for.
But those occurrences, with the lady that never happened because management was asleep. I never got in trouble for something I said. I never cursed on the air. I never said something that would bring me into repute, you know, I just was … I loved the radio and then now, I’m on the internet and people curse on the internet. I’ve had guests say the ‘F’ word, I still can’t. I can’t bring myself to do it, cause I’m so cognizant.
The old rules…
Of the microphone and the old rules.
Well, first thing are we hearing Biscuit the dog snoring?
Yeah, that’s fine, my dog…
And that’s taking Larry’s advice here. I’m just describing what’s going on, but …
Biscuit snores, you could take him and put him in another room. He don’t care, he just … He’s 8 years old now, he’s just an old dog. But it adds to the podcast…
See, you’re right. Now they know Biscuit.
Right. Now, in the old days you’d have been signaling the guy to try to get him to …
Cut it! Cut it!
Cut that! Cut that! Don’t! Don’t do that! Watch that! Don’t do that! What the hell? If you heard the sound, if you didn’t hear it, okay that’s what we cut for. If you did hear it, it’s cute.
And Tim’s got a dog, Molly, who he often has on his podcast and is always a great audience. One of the things about Tim’s audience is they want to know how to be better in all aspects of life. What would you say … Let’s talk a little about curiosity, about speaking, listening, empathy. You are one of the most curious people I’ve ever met. Is that something that is ingrained or is it something that everybody has, but somehow you never lost?
Good question Cal. That’s why this Fussman Factor podcast will be a success. Truthfully, I don’t know. I was always curious, I remember as an 8 year old, 9 year old, I’d get on the bus and ask the bus driver why he wanted to drive a bus. My curiosity was endless so it lent me into a broadcast booth that worked for me, that worked for me. My curiosity worked for me. I never got good grades in school, except in things with oral projects, like English, where I could ask questions of the teacher. So, I always had that curiosity and managed to find a workplace that brought it to me. I don’t know the answer to that, but I could give you rules.
Sure! What are the rules?
Listening is as important as what you’re asking. So, don’t worry about your next question. Now, that’s risk taking. But don’t worry about your next question.
Often you see when people are in conversation, you can almost look at somebody carefully and see their thinking about what they’re gonna say next.
Now that is natural. I react. You can’t tell someone just starting. So, someone just starting, if it’s comfortable for you to make little notes to yourself, so you have a bridge to fall back on, do it. You want to be good. But eventually, get to be where you don’t need those notes. Your curiosity works for you. And sometimes, the simplest question is the best. Like, when we had the first war in Kuwait and we went in to Iraq, we didn’t go to Baghdad …
Desert Storm, right …
We would have generals on every night and reporters and I would hear people on other stations, you know, “This happened today and this happened,” My first question was, “What happened today?” Okay, now I’m getting their perspective of what happened today. Now, based on their answer I’ll have to have another question, and I would. Whatever the answer was, even if it was, “Well, today the troops advanced ten miles into the enemy territory.” Right, that’s the answer.
Did that surprise you?
Oh, there you go.
You know what I mean. There you go, go right with it. Why did they do that? Do you trust the information that your superiors give you? There’s so many things, like I watch interviews today, they’re nuts. I mean, people are terrible, terrible, especially after sporting events.
What’s the worst things that you’ve seen?
Well, I see it every day. We’re just seeing a sporting event.
A guy just got his first Major League home run to win the game. One stupid question I saw was, “This was your first Major League game. It was the ninth inning. The count was two and one and you hit that home run to right field.” And they put the microphone away. What’s the question? There’s no question.
Or, second dumbest question: “You got a home run in your first event. What does it feel like?” Now wait a minute. What if he’s going to answer, “Terrible. I didn’t want to hit a home run. I wanted a strike out.”? I would go to other areas, like, “When you played Little League, what were some of your baseball dreams?” And he might say, “To play in my first game.” “Did you ever visualize hitting a home run? What were you thinking when you were on deck? Were your parents here?”
And not only these unexpected questions, but they’re easily answered. “Yes, my parents were here” or “No, they weren’t.”
No, but and then, feeling with them… In other words, put yourself… it’s a lot of how would you be in that situation, except you don’t have to refer to yourself. You don’t have to say, “I would have done” … I don’t use the world “I.” I ask questions because I’m an observer. I’m present at the creation. I like to be there. Again, it’s the moment. I like to be in the moment.
Can what you do be used by anybody in their office?
I would guess so. I do a course based on the book How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. I’ve had some successful people tell me the book helped them in their lives. It’s still in print. I saw it in Norway. Yes, you can, because in a communicating world… Now the big difference today is, with modern technology, probably easier today, you could text. So people text today, which is sad to me. So you don’t need the art of phrasing. You don’t need to use your voice well.
What do we lose something? You see people with their cell phones in their hands, looking down.
What do we lose when we no longer have eye contact with people?
Intimacy. That’s what I want in every show I do. An intimate relationship with the guest. If I can establish that, like Sinatra, I got a letter here Sinatra wrote to me after his last television interview. You make the camera disappear. Intimacy. Trust. If the guest will trust you, you’re home. Because they know you’re sincerely interested in them and therefore, you can go anywhere. You can go anywhere depending on how you phrase the question. “How you feel?” But if you can put yourself in their shoes and get their emotion. It’s a good tip. Nobody thinks they’re bad. Nobody. Hitler didn’t comb his hair in the morning and say, “I am an evil person. I am doing good for my country… I’m doing good.” So, if you’re going to interview Hitler, the stupidest first question would be, “Why did you invade Poland?” The best kind of first question is, now if I were interviewing Osama bin Laden, the stupidest first question would be, “Why did you kill 3,000 people on that September day in New York?” I would have asked him, “You grew up in the richest family in Saudi Arabia. Why’d you leave?” Now, that gets him to think about what he was, and he didn’t think about him, so I left that day. But now-
You’ve made him curious about himself.
Right, but he also know I’m sincerely curious about him. I’ve made no judgment in that question. I don’t bring an agenda. I’m the … What do we want? We want to learn. All we want is information. Would you want to know the whys of Osama bin Laden? Wouldn’t that help you understand, when you’re dealing with the Osama bin Ladens of the future? Why do you want to know? I mean all we want is info.
I remember once, I had this great guy on, Swami Satchidananda. I never forgot him. From India. And he was so calm about everything. I mean, he was the kind of guy who say, I remember he said, “When you wake up in the morning, when you open your eyes, did you deserve that day? Whether you believe in God or whatever. Did Larry, did the Swami deserve this day? You woke up, it’s a gift. You don’t know where it came from. It’s a gift, the gift of life. The gift, you woke up. So what if it’s raining? You’ve got the gift of the day. So what if the toast is burnt? Make more toast. You’ve got the gift.” I said to him, “Swami, what if I told you I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 3 o’clock, take you to the airport and I don’t show? What would you do?” “I would call you and say, “Larry, how are you? I know something terrible must have happened because you weren’t there.” The shoe is on your foot.”
Then I asked him the world’s greatest question, “OK, Swami.” I was being cute. “You come home, walk up into your bedroom, and your wife is in bed with another guy.” And he said to me, “What would you do?” I said, “I would scream and yell and-“ “That’s right. That’s what everyone would do. Scream and yell and the guy would run out and the woman would be screaming and pandemonium. But, what do you want in that situation?”
Information! That was the best way to get it. “OK, this is very embarrassing, you two. I’m going to go down and make some tea. Why don’t the both of you come down to breakfast then? Let’s talk about this.” Who owns that moment?
You’re in control.
Yeah. Now that’s the hardest thing to do, but basically, that’s what I would do on the air. “Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?” My curiosity would be there, no matter what the situation, and eventually I would be asking Osama bin Laden why did he send those people out that day in September.
You know, the more you’re talking, the more I’m seeing the power of control in questions.
It’s all control. For most of my life in this great business, I have controlled my environment when working. And for a lot of time, when I did my national radio show, I did the first national network show, I was on from midnight to five. I was on CNN from nine to ten. I wrote a weekly column in USA Today. When I was writing the column, when I was on the radio for five hours, and when I was on television for the hour, I controlled all of that.
So people could actually use what you were doing to gain a better control over their own lives, even if it’s not in broadcast.
Just to use the questions, like the Swami said.
Yeah. You could use it … I unfortunately, I don’t do as well in the personal life. Everyone has their … you know, a lot of comedians are very unhappy people.
And they see things funny. For an escape from their own reality. So I do very well in this circumstance, sitting here talking to you, but I couldn’t hang a picture well. The nail, I’d hit my thumb. I would … I’m not, I try to be a good driver. I’m not a great driver. You know what I mean? In other words, no one’s perfect.
But in areas where can, especially in the work environment, where you can control something. Yeah, I could teach you how to do it.
What about empathy? Because that seems to be a quality you have. You can listen to anybody and you’re making them feel-
I’m not judgemental.
That I learned from broadcasting. What am I going to judge? I’m there to learn. Let the audience … See, the audience makes up its own mind. I’m a conduit. From me to you. I learn, and through me, you learn. But I don’t make a judgment call. In other words, I’m not the kind of broadcaster who argues with the guest. It’s just not my style.
I am passionate politically, off the air, and I have my … But I felt it best as a broadcaster, that my role was as a journalist, was to give you more. When you … At the end of an hour, you knew more than you did the hour before. When there’s arguing, you don’t learn.
I don’t like broadcasts where the guy just stands on a soapbox and talks for an hour.
Well there doesn’t seem to be any empathy on TV anymore …
No, that’s gone. The day of the long form interview is kind of gone. It’s sad.
It actually seems that the podcast is one way of trying to …
That’s the last venue of the long form interview. This could not occur on television today. What you’re doing right now could not occur. For a radio station it would be rare. Of course today, people want eat it up, speed it up, get it out, get it up. It’s a spit it out business. Get it up, get it out. Can’t get enough, get right through it. Today the world’s … You do an interview show today, the guest should be on tops 10 minutes. You don’t want a half hour interview today. They’re going to tune out. Because they’ve got 500 channels, and you can’t … And I think technology has added …
What are we losing?
So we’re not getting the information. And when you look at everything that’s going on politically, it seems like we’re not getting any depth any more.
That’s why this New York Times that I have right here is my bible. I learn more from it every day than I get from all of cable television. And they’ve got cameras and the New York Times doesn’t. But they can write an in-depth article that continues on page 46, and I get more out of it. The sad thing is that newspapers are going away. That’s all part of … You know, technology brings improvements, and they bring bad things, too.
When I spoke in Norway a couple weeks ago, and someone was asking me about technology. Here’s the best and the worst thing about it. We know that somewhere in the world today, a guy is working on a cure for cancer. This brilliant scientist. Another guy is writing a great play. And another guy is inventing a new kind of airplane that will exceed the speed of sound. And another guy is planning how to build a nuclear weapon that you can hide in your hands and get on a plane. He’s doing that, too.
So the guy who’s curing cancer, he’s going to succeed. The guy with the little bomb is going to succeed, too. So this is what you face as we advance as a culture. We advance, right? Remember the small grocer got overtaken. I like the small grocer. I like the guy that took the little pencil and added up on the paper bag, and took the clipper and got the toilet paper down from the top of the rack. That’s gone.
You know, the interesting thing to me though, is that it seems like questions are becoming more important now, because in this age of technology, you can google any answer. A six year old can google any answer to any question in four seconds. But the right question? No, that six year old may not be able to come up with it.
Ask more. Go through a day and see how many people ask questions rather than say things. My motto, my broadcast motto all my life, I never learned anything when I was talking.
And that’s interesting, because you see TV, and the idea is to just talk over somebody to get your point.
At times you have to. If I’m speaking, if you speak as you do, or make a comment in front of a group, I’m not learning anything. But I’m entertaining. That’s different. You can entertain. If I’m telling a joke, I know the end of the joke, so I’m not learning anything, but I’m providing entertainment.
If I make a speech I’m not learning anything, but I’m providing knowledge. But if I’m a questioner, I never learned anything while I was talking. If I’m asking a question of you, it had better be a question. Not a statement, not a history lesson. Ask the question. So many people … I want to yell sometimes “What’s the question?”
I hear what you’re saying. Is there advice that you would give young people to better ask questions? Like I’ll sit down before an interview and I’ll write out maybe 200 questions I want to ask.
If that’s what works for you. Do what works … Never do what doesn’t work for you. So if Larry King says “Don’t write out questions in advance,” that would be stupid for me to say. I don’t do it. I can’t tell you what to do. Whatever is your comfort zone.
But is there something about just the foundation of … I give these speeches, change your questions, change your life, to look at questions a different way. To look at the power in them. Step aside from where you are, look at yourself and see how a different question could change your position. Is this something that you have done, or are you just constantly in the moment?
I never sat down and figured it out. I’m just in the moment. I didn’t do self-analysis. I’m in the moment. I just … But I know that listening is as important as asking. Listening is as important as what you ask because follow up is … You have to be in the moment.
Is there advice, is there ways for people to improve their listening?
I guess, well in this modern age of technology where you have instant information and where you can text people, listen is a weird word. Listen. Think about the word listen. What are you listening to today? You’re reading stuff off your little I Phone …
And often people have their ears plugged to take in what they want to hear, so they’re pushing away the outside …
I tell you often how people don’t listen. We could test … I did this with Jim Bishop one day in Miami. He did a column on this. When you see someone that you know pass on the street. “How are you doing?” Right? Say “I’ve got brain cancer.” “How’s the wife?” They don’t listen. “How are you doing?” They don’t know how you’re doing. Tell them stop it. “How am I doing? I’ll tell you how I’m doing. The bank called me today, the second mortgage payment. You want to know how I’m doing? Sit down, I’ll tell you how I’m doing.”
Is there a way to break through that sort of cocktail party back talk…
Now this I don’t know the answer to. I have always had people respond to me. It’s worked with women …
So you just get genuine, sincere responses.
Yeah, and as George Burns said, “If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” But I have always known in interview situations… I’ve always known that I can get people to respond to me. I don’t … So I could use humor, I could use … But they know that I really want to know what they’re thinking, why they did what they did. And people appreciate that. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like to talk about what they do. Except Brando, who didn’t like to talk about acting.
But that can be useful to anybody in any situation. In the office … Just by looking into somebody and being …
Being sincere and zeroing in.
There’s two questions you’re asking the same question. Why did you do that, or why did you do that? You’re going to get a better answer with the second.
Right. I was doing some reading, and they say that when you take in a question, 10% is only the words. 30% is the tone of voice, what you just illustrated.
Oh, tone is very important, which you don’t get with your iPhone.
And 60% is the body language behind that question.
Which you don’t get with your iPhone.
And so, I guess this is something people can work on, if they want to, to learn how to better communicate.
Yeah, well, we’re trying all the time. How to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere, how to be better. We all want to do better. You’re always learning and you always accept the fact that you’re still learning.
Well, if you’re in sales you got to connect with people. If you’re a leader of a company you got to connect with people and basically, they can use the same skills that you’re using.
Of course. Anyone could use it. Presidents of countries can use it.
I got some questions from Tim that he sent over.
Okay this is the Ferris wheel question.
This is the Ferris wheel question.
We’ve been going a long time here, Cal.
I think you can blame me.
Well we’ve been over an hour, I don’t want to break it to, Cal, but you’re starting to get annoying. I want to tell your listeners, this is going to be a great podcast, but that does hit a point with the Fussman factor, where he gets annoying, and we’re very close to that point now. Yes, what question, is it that the Ferris wheel wants?
There you go. This is from Tim. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere, what would it say and why?
A gigantic billboard anywhere, oh let me think, good question Tim. Slow down! Exclamation point. Or ban all guns.
There you go. I was thinking the John Wooden line when you said slow down, he said, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” That’s pretty good…
What is the book, Tim asks, you’ve been given most as a gift and why?
I guess through life, it’s Catcher in the Rye. I love that book. I read it at four different times in my life. Teenager, later.
Does it change?
Yeah, get different meaning from it. I get different reactions, for example, my son Chance who’s 18, hated Holden Caulfield. Thought he was a pompous spoiled brat. I never saw him that way. Didn’t find him funny. It’s interesting the way kids … that perspective. And that’s good writing, if you can react hostile to him.
Yeah, and then 50 years from now, he may have a very different look at it.
Biscuit. Can you name one two three books that have massively impacted your life?
Okay, you read like six books at once. I’ve been with you on the airplanes.
What I try to do is a novel and a nonfiction, and I can read those two at once, but I got three going now.
What’s the third?
Oh, you were reading the Frankel-
Pretty good title. In the last five years, what new belief or behavior has most improved your life? You have new beliefs in the last five years?
No, but the more I exist, the less I believe in something out there. I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in life after death, and most people get older and they find some belief. I get older and find less. I have no … this is it.
You’re just in the moment.
The thing I fear the most is death because I can’t imagine not existing. That drives me bonkers.
We were talking about this at breakfast, that we’re all energy.
Yeah, I don’t know what you mean by that, Cal. We’re all energy.
That’s what we are, we’re energy. And so you’re still going to be floating around somehow.
I’m floating around, do I know where I am?
Well, you’re not going to know it.
You don’t know that.
Well, I can’t make any guarantees on that, but I have a feeling that you never go away and certainly, you will be around for all of us who remember you. What about memories?
Yeah, memory, you’ll have tapes of me. I can exist but I’m not there, you understand, Fussman? I don’t exist and that bugs me. To not exist. For example, who’s going to be the next president? Who’s going to win the pennant? Who’s … see the why person fears death.
Because they’re not going to know the answer.
Because it’s the one thing … I married into a family they all believe. The Mormons, they believe. I’m going somewhere else, and I say to them, “You got nothing, you can’t lose. You’re in a win-win, if you died and you go somewhere else, you were right. If you don’t, you don’t know it.” They can’t lose.
It’s a good strategy.
Well, my strategy … it don’t work for me because I can’t accept the fact there’s no heaven.
You need a new strategy, yeah.
There’s no other plane, I’m not going to some planet.
Stay here. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months or recent memory?
Where do you come up with that question? $100 or less, Tim?
Tim, I don’t know, where did you come up with that question?
That’s a Ferris wheel. That’s the kind of thing if you’re stuck on a Ferris wheel, you think of things like that. Ferris, if I’m stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel, first I’m panicked. I’m Jewish, it’s never going to start again, and I’m stuck on a Ferris wheel.
Less than $100.
Less than $100. What did I spend less than $100 on? That what?
It had a positive impact on your life.
As a child it was a yo-yo, because I never could master the yo-yo and it would drive me crazy, and the fact that I couldn’t master it, drove me crazy. So I don’t know why I just thought of that.
Well, it would probably have been like a Dodger ticket when you were a kid. Now they’re more than 100 bucks.
When I was a kid, one of the biggest thrills of my life was a ticket to Ebbets Field. I’d go down to Montague Street and buy reserve seats when you could afford it for a $1.75. Oh, and to hold those tickets, and look at them now. Now, it’s a piece of paper, you hand it in or you put it in to your phone. I don’t do that. When I go to the airport, I want a boarding pass and I’d like it to be thick, not paper. I don’t trust going to the airport without a boarding pass. You can’t get them, you can get a piece of paper. I’m very pissed, you got me very angry, Fussman.
First annoyed, now angry. Okay, how about … what advice would you give to a college senior about to enter the real world, and what advice would you give a smart aggressive 30-year-old?
To a college senior, if you have a goal, don’t give up. If you want to do something in life and someone can tell you, you can’t do it, and if you believe that, then you can’t do it. If you think you can do it, you can do it.
That’s great. That’s actually great advice.
And if you think you can’t do it, you can’t do it. And if you can do it, but you think you can’t, you can’t.
Got to think you can do it.
What about a 30-year-old?
A 30-year-old is almost the same thing. 30-year-old, you’re at that bridge. That’s why I love athletes. Athletes’ lives, careers, end when most of ours begin. So they face winning and losing, they face a final score, they face cheering that stops. We don’t have that. No one else in life has that. Most of our careers kick off around 35, 40, and that’s when they’re done. And also to get paid for something that they did when they were seven years old and did it for more hours.
How has a failure or a parent failure set you up for later success? You have a favorite failure?
Well, you learn from loss. You learn a lot more from losing than from winning.
Well probably, the two stories you told about Jamaica Farewell and then following asleep.
No, there are other failures too. Failure at marriage, wasn’t good at it. That’s because my job came first. See again, my love of my broadcasting has hindered me in other areas. You know, because I’m driven by that. CNN and Mutual Radio were the number one bigs in my life. Number one. The children were better but I was a better worker than a father. I’m a better father now. The way you think about old age, Fussman, for the Fussman factor, is I’m 83 but I’m 17. In other words, I know I’m 83 from the pains and the little tribulations of life but I’m 17. For example, you know what keeps me going? I wonder what I want to do when I grow up. I like being called promising. In other words, when I get a call like, “You’ve just been awarded a life-time achievement award by the Emmys”, which I got six years ago. Life-time achievement.
That probably can make you mad.
Wonderful thrill but at the same time, “Is that it? What do you mean? You mean it’s over?” Over? I look at my trophy room and I have a trophy room right next door to this room. It’s got all the accolades over the years and the awards. I go in there. It’s my ego room. But I sit in there and I say to myself, “Who the hell did this? Who the hell?” I look around at pictures and people with me. “Who the hell? How the hell? How the hell did I do this?” You know Bertrand Russell, the great philosopher and Nobel Prize winner, mathematician, was 95 years old. They had a dinner party and someone said, “Doctor Russell, you’re 95, great mathematician, great writer, Nobel Prize. What do you know? What do you know?” He said, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.”
If I had to sum up everything about human nature, about war, about life, about love, about the meaning of things, I don’t know. I’ve had a lifetime of discovery. I’ve learned a lot of things. But on the basic things of life, I don’t know. I don’t know about women. I don’t know about someone looking after me. I don’t know about things up there. I don’t know. I guess I’m an agnostic but I just can’t make that leap. I can’t make the leap of faith. It’s too big a leap. When people have it, there’s a sense of envy but at the same time I don’t mean to put them down but a sense that they need a crutch. I don’t have a crutch.
I have a few more questions here. From Tim, “What are bad recommendations you hear in your area of expertise?”
I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that. I’ve never heard people give bad recommendations. I mean like, you know a bad recommendation would be, “You don’t need college.” I think today you do. In my day you didn’t. Now you do. World is too competitive.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Unusual habit? I have a habit of … They’re broad habits. I try to total up words in a phrase or a sentence and then divide it to see if I get an even number. Like “true love” divided by two is four. There’s four words in each thing. “True love” is four and four.
Oh the letters I see what you’re saying. Okay.
Yeah. So I don’t want an odd number. I want an even number. I do that a lot in my head.
You’re doing it while you’re asking questions?
No, no, no. I try not to get distracted.
Okay. Yeah that’d be like having a calculator going on.
Yeah. No, no, no. I’m not…
But that’s okay. That is unusual.
Yeah. Well everyone has a little unusual … For example, my pills, I take a lot of prescription pills and a lot of vitamins, have to be in order in the closet. When I lay them out for the next day I have to take them out in the same order. That’s a rule.
Well that’s control and organization. A lot of what we’re talking about is about control.
I’m very organized and I hate, not hate, is a bad word. Disorganized people annoy me. Like people who … I told my wife this morning, “We’re having dinner at Wolfgang’s tonight. You want to come over, come over. Greg is come … I don’t know who’s coming. But we’re having dinner at Wolfgang’s tonight.” Two hours later I said to her, “We’ll go out at 7:30.” “Where are we going?” “Wolfgang’s.” She said, “I don’t listen to details like that.” “You what?”
You’re in the moment.
She doesn’t know. She’s not in any moment. Like she doesn’t know, if she’s got a plane tomorrow she has no idea what time the plane’s going.
Well I think there’s a lot of people like that.
… what time my plane’s going a week from Friday.
Right. I got it. In the last five years, this is a good question, Tim, have you become better at saying “no” to distractions, invitations et cetera?
No, he has not. Larry cannot say “no”.
The hardest word in the English language is “no” and that’s where people with texts can get away with it.
Because it’s easy to type N-O.
It’s easy to type “no”. You know I-
Why can’t you say “no”?
I guess it’s I don’t like rejection and I therefore don’t like to reject others. I know it’s stupid because eventually you cancel something because you don’t want to disappoint them initially.
So five people can ask you to go out to dinner on Wednesday night-
So I’m too much in the moment. So I have to give a satisfactory answer to each. It could drive you crazy.
And then Wednesday night comes-
It works on the air. It doesn’t work off the air.
A lot of things that work professionally-
Don’t work off the air.
… don’t work off the air.
All right. What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made? It could be in money, time, energy.
Knowing my career. That paid off the most. The time I invested, the jobs I took, working radio, working the dog track, all those little things.
I’m really also getting a sense of discipline like-
Yeah. In work ethic.
Not in life ethic. I never handled money well. Still don’t. I don’t handle my own money. I keep kind of a small checking account but I have accountants in Boston that do everything. I’ve never seen a CNN check. Never seen it. Don’t know what it looks like. Don’t know what Ora TV checks look like. I don’t. I keep a checking account-
… but I don’t know what paychecks look like. When I give speeches, they go right to the speakers bureau and they send it to Boston. I don’t know what those look like. It’d be nice to see what a check looks like.
Okay. The last question from-
Finally with the Fussman factor. We’ll do an hour. Well Fussman, we’re at an hour and 35 minutes, Fussman.
This is the world’s longest podcast.
The longest first podcast.
You’re doing very well, Fussman.
Well thank you. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused or you’ve lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? Maybe this goes back to the Swami. Just look for information or maybe you have a-
Well I get lost in sports. As we’re doing this, I’m watching a baseball game. I could do this and I know what’s happening. So sports is a great thrill to me. I feel sorry for people who aren’t sports fans. Know why? When I get up in the morning I have no idea who’s going to win the games that day. None. So I have wonderment every day, “Who’s going to win? What’s going to happen?”
So you’re talking and you’re looking at the screen-
… and your curiosity is at play wondering. Okay. What’s happening in the Kansas City Royals game?
Well I can’t see what that guy is playing or saying but I know the Royals have come here with the hottest team. The Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball by far and the Dodgers just keep winning to my amazement. They just keep winning. So I’m amazed and I love that. I’m amazed at it. I’m involved in it. By the way, I still remain emotionally involved in the teams I like. So I get a lot of rewards out of being a fan of games.
You’re still in the moment. Now this is a bucket list request.
I got no bucket list. I’ll tell you my bucket list.
It was going to be my bucket list but go ahead, you tell me your bucket list.
Every Fussman factor goes back to Fussman. By the way you’re listening to the longest podcast ever. Fussman out to break world’s records at all times. Fussman’s trying to write War and Punishment or what was the longest book ever written?
War and Peace well-
Okay get Crime and Punishment.
Crime and Punishment. What did I combine two books about the world’s biggest-
There you go.
I would like to do a Broadway show. Larry King on Broadway as himself. Like Larry King Tonight. You come and I tell my stories and take questions from the audience. An eight o’clock curtain with the theater bill. It’s the one thing … I’ve done stand up comedy I do a comedy tour and everything, but to be on a Broadway stage as a theater group, that’s something I would like to do. That’s a bucket list. I’m not big on travel. I don’t have to see The Great Wall of China. I’ve seen pictures. Like we have a home in Utah. I don’t like Utah. It’s boring to me. The beautiful mountains. Okay. I saw the mountain. I don’t have to see it again tomorrow. That kind of wonderment I don’t have. I wonder about people but I don’t wonder a lot about places. See if I’ve seen pictures of Berlin, I don’t have to walk down the street in Berlin. But you, Fussman-
I gotta walk down the street in Berlin.
You are the wanderlust guy.
That’s right. That’s right. It’s very interesting because you have given me a lot of bucket list stuff.
Yes. Because it-
If I could enhance your life is a great moment to me, Fussman.
Because of you-
… I now speak. Do you remember how I was when I first came to the breakfast table to help you?
I hardly ever spoke.
Fussman did not speak and now … I want to warn you of something. Do not become a bore. Sometimes, Fussman, you can overdo it. Don’t overdo it. You’re not a bore, Fussman. You’re a great man.
I haven’t overdone it yet but it’s the reason that I’m now on stage speaking to companies is because of you. Because I was sitting at the breakfast table every day listening to you speak. Then we’d go to your show at night. You’d put me off on the side of the camera and nobody would see me. But I’m taking it all in. Then I’d go-
You’re doing very well. I have to say I’ve watched you. You’re a great speaker. I’m very proud that I played a part in it. I know that if I die, maybe I’ll be the one that doesn’t. Why not? There has to be a first of everything. But if I die, that I will carry on through you. That you will keep my name going and your children and my children with this. So I will exist in some form.
As long as I’m here, that’s for sure. So let’s do the last bucket list. This is-
And that is?
This is my bucket list. There was a time when you were a kid and you’re listening to a baseball announcer and then he moved down to Florida. You moved down to Florida and then you were both working together.
Same station. Red Barber.
Right. Red Barber. At the end of his report he said, “Over to you, Larry.”
That was one of the great thrills of my life. Still remains a thrill. Here’s a guy I listened to from age seven, eight, on up. The guy who taught Vince Skully how to announce. The best baseball broadcaster I ever heard. He had a Southern accent. Came from Tallahassee Florida. I could always hear his voice in my head as people who grew up in Los Angeles have Skully’s voice in their head. I was sitting there and when I did my interview portion, and he would do the sports news and he said, “That’s the latest in sports. Larry.” And when he said “Larry”, my God. Thing went through my head.
Here’s this little Jewish kid from Brooklyn with his 48 pound transistor radio. Walking around on this Emerson radio to Coney Island listening to Red Barber describe a scene. To make that picture come alive, Red gave me the game. When I walked into my first game at Ebbets Field shortly after my father died, my uncle took me, Arlene’s father. Bernie took me to the Dodger game. I walked onto that field and I saw the grass and the dirt and the white lines but I knew that field because Red gave me that field.
And so then-
To work with him and interview him and talk about Jackie Robinson coming into the league and what he meant to Red. Go. Give me the bucket list already.
Here’s the bucket list. Over to you, Lar. Now if you will say, “Over to you, Cal.”
Oh you want to hear that?
I want to hear, “Over to you, Cal.”
Over to you, Cal. Cal, take it. Cal, go ahead. It’s your turn, Cal, take the ball and run with it.
Over to you, Tim.
Over to you Ferris wheel.
Hey Tim, there’s another guy coming and gonna have his own podcast, Saul Rollercoaster.
I think that’s funny.