A couple weeks ago, I learned that longtime host of The Big Broadcast and even longer-time radio figure, Ed Walker, would be retiring. He was doing so to spend more time with his family and battle the cancer with which he had been diagnosed. His last broadcast would be Sunday, October 25th.
Like many other longtime fans, I was determined to tune in at 7pm this past Sunday. This may seem strange in the age of streaming and content-on-demand. I even knew that it would be pre-recorded, not live. Still, it felt as close as one could get to a communal event.
Ed picked a smorgasbord of radio that he counted among his favorites to fill the four hours. He had the Stan Freeberg show, a production of Three Skeleton Key, a particularly emotional Dragnet, a gritty, unsentimental episode of Gunsmoke, and even some selections from the Joy Boys, his own creation with Willard Scott that ran locally for about 20 years. It was a great “Best of” showcasing all you could do with the “Theater of the Mind,” Ed Walker’s playground and calling for over 60 years. I mean, the guy helped start the very radio station where this show was broadcasting from!
You could hear his voice was a bit slower, without quite the vigor you’d remember as he introduced shows and songs from broadcasts back. But the warmth was there, all the more so when it finally came to sign-off. It was a great note to end on.
But then I joined many other longtime fans learned Monday that, even though the Big Broadcast would continue, it really was the end of an era. After listening to the final broadcast with his family on Sunday night night, Ed Walker passed away peacefully in his sleep early Monday morning. It really was the end.
I was going to post here earlier in the week, but I’m glad I waited, as WAMU has put together a splendid web page, listing over a dozen great links to articles and interviews… plus Ed’s final show.
Also, one might expect, many local media outlets published their obituaries/remembrances for Ed Walker on Monday, often linking to interviews with him in recent years:
It’s still very sad to say goodbye, but I’m glad he got to spend his final days with the whole region celebrating his life and career as well as being with his family at the end. RIP, Ed Walker.