If broadcaster Larry King sounds overworked to you, it's probably because he is. But the amazing thing about Larry King is that he never sounds overworked.
King, Mutual's broadcasting bull, still has his five-a-week, late-night radio talk show, plus a weekly, 30-minute interview show for WJLA-TV-7. He also writes weekly columns for the Sporting News and USA Today.
He's busier than most airports and likes it that way. So it is probably not surprising that in his spare time, he works some more behind a microphone. When his schedule allows, King does Washington Capitals hockey, Baltimore Orioles baseball and occasional specials for Home Team Sports, the regional cable network.
"Sports is my avocation," the Brooklyn-born King said. "I was a freak sports fan as a kid -- the Knicks, Rangers, Dodgers, Giants. I'd go to Ebbets Field, sit in the top row and pretend I was broadcasting the game."
Now, closing on age 50, King sits in the press box. Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams approached him in the spring about doing work for HTS. King agreed to work games as a guest commentator. He managed to fit in 30 Orioles home games and he'll do about 20 Capitals games this season.
His scheduling is hectic. From Memorial Stadium or Capital Centre, he must leave himself enough time to get back to Mutual's studios in Crystal City for his midnight talk show.
"I'm a classic workaholic," he said, attributing his workload in part to his handling professional matters better than personal matters.
His television work doesn't quite measure up to his radio standards, but then again, Michelangelo's paintings were never as good as his sculptures. On radio, King is so riveting and fascinating that insomniacs avoid cures. On television, he is just better than most.
He brings up interesting points during games and asks the right questions of his guests. King even maintained a shred of dignity interviewing the San Diego Chicken during intermission of the Capitals' home opener.
"As a color person," he said, "I like to talk to the people who play the game and coach it. I'll sit down with a Joe Altobelli before a game. I don't take notes. Then I'll mention things I was told casually throughout a game.
"Sports interviews are easy. The locker room is the easiest of all. The drama is in front of you. You just saw what happened. But too many interviews are noninterviews. The first question is never a question. 'Boy, that was some game,' the interviewer will say, or 'You really took it to them, John.' "
King, who did Dolphins football and a weekly sports talk show in Miami before coming here with Mutual in 1978, regards NBC's Dick Enberg as the best sportscaster. Among baseball men, he praised NBC's Vin Scully and Bob Costas and Orioles radio announcer Jon Miller. The best of all time, King said, was Red Barber.
If King chose, he might make a full-time effort to join those among baseball's finest.
"What Larry brings to us is another dimension," said Jody Shapiro, HTS' programming director and executive producer. "He does the kind of thing he does best for us. He's down on the ice, he catches (Capitals Coach) Bryan Murray before a game. With his talent, his interviews aren't wishy-washy."
HTS wants King for more work. Shapiro, who will meet with King on Monday, wants to expand his role, perhaps to include a regular talk show. But King, whose contract with Mutual runs through next year, is unlikely to commit to any more sports work.
"I can't sign (an HTS) contract today," King said. "I can't commit to anything long-range. I could never do sports all the time. I'd start missing interviewing the Brzezinskis, the Kissingers, the authors and lawyers. Sports full-time would get to me after a while. It ain't the end of the world."
Still, listening to King talk sports on and off the air, one irresistible question: If he had the chance to do 162 Orioles games and forget Mutual's bad hours for just one year, would he?
"It would be enticing, but . . . I can't say that down the road, if they'd give me permission to take off a year, then yes, I could do baseball. I would love to do the Orioles, or maybe the Mets, for a year." -- --
For New York-area natives, NBC's Saturday telecast of a forgettable Bills-Jets game will bring back a forever memorable play-by-play man. Marty Glickman, 67, brought up a generation of fans with Knicks, football Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers radio. He retired four years ago, but NBC hired him as a technical consultant coaching its football announcers. And Saturday in Giants Stadium, he'll join analyst John Brodie in a one-shot return to football play-by-play.