PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) — Long-time listeners of KDKA Radio would remember Ed and Wendy King, the husband-wife duo that pioneered the popular nighttime talk show “Party Line” from 1951 to 1971.
“We had a lot of satisfaction and a lot of fun out of it, and it was nice to have been able to share it,” Mrs. King said in the KDKA 80th Anniversary Special from 2000, “we sort of sparked off each other.”
Mrs. King lived in the South Hills. A family member tells KDKA-AM that she passed away peacefully overnight.
Listeners tuned in to “Party Line” for segments like the nightly “Party Pretzel” Quiz, as well as Mr. King’s famous Halloween Stories.
“Everybody, when it comes down to it, has a spooky, strange story to tell,” said Mrs. King, recalling the Halloween stories. “What some people might remember, also, is that every Halloween for a great many years, Ed wrote a special story that was in the genre of some of the classic spooky stories.”
One of the most distinct aspects of the show was that the Kings would take callers to the studio, but wouldn’t put the callers on air. They would instead describe what the caller was saying to them.
“The technique of just keeping the idea of a party, and therefore not having the voices on the air allowed the listener to use their imagination,” said Ms. King. “That made for a much brighter atmosphere than anybody could have put on air.”
Mr. and Mrs. King’s personalities reverberated throughout the station, and many former co-workers described what a delight it was to work with them.
“They were two really warm, friendly, wonderful, intelligent personalities, and they simply made it work,” said KDKA Personality Jack Bogut in a recent interview, “They had party pretzels, mind benders, tongue twisters, the question of the day…all of the stuff that might be deemed silly today… but they were two great personalities that were totally different from anything you heard.
Mr. Bogut also recalls how Mrs. King’s quick wit came in handy one night on air.
“Wendy took a call one night, and it was obviously an in impolite call because the caller said ‘Wendy, I’ve seen you sweetheart, and I’d like to get frisky with you’,” Mr. Bogut said. “and Wendy said ‘Ed, it’s for you.’”
Along with his success on “Party Line”, Mr. King Wrote the KDKA 50th Anniversary Special in 1970. He also wrote documentaries, for which Mrs. King usually served as his researcher.