CNN talk show host Larry King had a packed audience laughing out loud from start to finish as he spoke in Memorial Hall on Friday.
King, UNC's first Earl Wynn Distinguished Lecturer, filled his speech with lively anecdotes. He has conducted nearly 40,000 interviews, ranging from the Dalai Lama to physicist Stephen Hawking to Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian National Authority.
The topic of the speech was scheduled to be ethics in television news, but King only mentioned that issue in passing.
The laughter was often so loud King couldn't be heard over it. He opened with a few political jokes, then told several stories about his early career as a radio broadcaster. King told a lengthy story about his childhood in New York and an experience in which he conned money out of his junior high school.
When asked about his success as an interviewer, King replied, "What I like best is a variety of guests - the more diversified, the better."
King also gave advice to potential broadcasters. "Just be yourself, ask the best questions you can think of and don't be afraid of being dumb," he said.
After King finished his hourlong speech, he fielded questions from the audience. The first question was a subtle inquiry into King's sexual history. He answered bluntly about his first experience, saying "It happened on the baseball field at midnight - it was on home plate." He joked that the next day, his friend commented, "Larry scored!"
King said he was surprised at President Clinton's behavior as he discussed the media coverage of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. He said, "(Clinton is) maybe one of the smartest, if not the smartest guy I've ever known." And about Monica Lewinsky, King, a Jew himself, joked, "A Jewish intern - and you don't think she's going to talk?"
One of the next questions posed to King concerned bias in the media. King said, "There's no such thing as a media - there's no `they' because the media is the National Enquirer and The New York Times. "We all have our own feelings; we try to be as objective as possible. That's the hardest thing in the world, to be totally objective."
When asked who he would most like to interview, King replied, "I wish we could get God." He said the first question he would ask God would be, "Do you have a son?" King also said Jesus Christ would be the historical figure he would most like to interview.
He said he does not do his job for the money, but because he loves to ask questions. "They pay me every day for something I would do for free. How could you possibly beat that?"
The crowd seemed to enjoy the speech, often laughing and clapping. "I thought it was stellar," said Jason Tedesco, a sophomore biology major. "It was not on topic at all, but he seemed to have more personality than he does on TV."
The University Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.