Aficionados of classic Pittsburgh talk radio remember the days of KDKA's "Party Line" -- the Kings, Ed and his wife, Wendy, were masters in the art of conversation.
The show was a melange of topics and activities: puzzles, trivia, opinion, gossip, news of the day. From 1951-71, the Kings took calls from their listeners -- who were not audible on the radio -- and worked their comments and opinions into the highly entertaining show.
Ed King died in November 1971, and the show ended with him. Mrs. King, whose familiar voice is still pleasant and lively, lives in the South Hills.
Paul Dudjak of Castle Shannon was one such listener: "I used to do the night turn at Giant Eagle and we used to have split nights off. So I used to come home and go to sleep, but then I'd wake up at 11 o'clock at night."
Turning to "Party Line" was a pleasant way to begin his very late day. One night, Ed and Wendy were discussing some kind of coin and Mr. Dudjak called in to add his two cents' worth. Although his voice was never broadcast, he said it was still a thrill to be part of the program.
In some ways, Lynn Cullen's Internet program for City Paper (pghcitypaper.com) is a modern-day "Party Line." She fields emails and social media comments and works them into her show. She jokingly likened it to "riding a PAT bus and hearing only one side of the damn cell phone conversation."
"For me, the Internet makes perfect sense. It's the last bastion [of radio], or the future."
She described her daily routine of fielding questions: "I get an email and I say, 'This is what so-and-so is saying,' and I read it to them, like a fortune cookie. It works."
There isn't much Ms. Cullen doesn't like to discuss, even if she doesn't agree with the digital "listener."
"One minute, we're talking about [Arthur] Schopenhauer and the next, we're talking about dung beetles in the heliosphere. I LOVE that."
First Published October 19, 2013 8:00 PM