I’m playing these records. The phone rings and I pick it up: 'WAHR'. And this lady’s voice--I can still hear her voice--she goes: 'I want you.'
Larry King: All these tales, any of the stories were not funny when they were happening. I was scared to death going to the principal’s office. Having firemen come running in when you’re asleep on the air. Scared to death. The night I went to the lady’s house. I mean, I mean, I was petrified.
Larry King: I’d been in radio two weeks. I was 23 years old. And I did everything because I did sports, I did news, I did disc jockey. And one day—they knew I was a glutton, because “Larry will do it”—and the station manager calls and says, “The all-night guy is sick. Would you like to fill in tonight?” “Sure! No problem.” Now I’m in the station all alone. It was a small station. I’ll never forget this: I’m playing these records, and the phone rings and I pick it up and say, “WAHR” and this lady’s voice—I can still hear her voice—she goes, “I want you.” [Laughter] I go, “What did you say?” “I said I want you.” And I said to myself: there’s a couple of extra pluses to being in this business. So I said—the immediate thing, I swear to god—“I get off at six!” She says, “Naw, that won’t do. I’ve got to go to work. You gotta come now.” I said, “But I’m on the air.” She says, “I’m only 12 blocks from the station. Here’s my address. If you can make it, please. I really want you.” Hangs up. I got her address. I’m the only one in station. So here’s what the audience heard: “Ah folks, I’m only sitting in tonight, so I’ve got a real treat for you. You’re going to hear the entire Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall album uninterrupted. I had 33 minutes, which is all the time I needed. To this day that’s still true.
[Music: Harry Belafonte “Jamaica Farewell”]
Larry King: So I put the record on. I get in the car, I swear to god. I rushed to her house 11 blocks away. I pull into her house. The light is on. The Volkswagen was in the driveway. She said the door would be open. The door was open. She was sitting— She wore a white negligee. I never saw her face clear. The little lamp was on.
[Music: “Jamaica Farewell” continues]
Larry King: The radio was on. Belafonte’s singing. She opens up her arms. I run into her arms. I put my arms— My cheek goes against her cheek, and on the radio Belafonte is singing “Jamaica Farewell.” “Down the way where the nights—”
[Music: “Jamaica Farewell” continues: “Down the way where the nights—where the nights—where the nights—”]
Larry King: “Where the nights—where the nights—” The record gets stuck. I push her back. I jump in the car. I drive to the station. And this is Jewish masochism: I keep the radio on. “Where the nights—where the nights—where the nights— where the nights—” and I was petrified. I come back. All the phones are ringing. I’m apologizing to people. And the last call I never forgot. An old Jewish guy. “WAHR” and I hear this guy go, “Where the nights—where the nights. I’m going crazy. I’m going crazy.” I said, “Sir, I apologize. Why didn’t you change the station?” He says, “I’m an invalid. They set the station for me on top of the bureau and I can’t reach it.”
[Music: “Jamaica Farewell” continues to end]
Music: Sunsearcher “Latin Rhythm” | Harry Bellafonte “Jamaica Farewell”
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The Smith Tapes
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