Reaching the White House
University of La Verne alumnus Larry Marino shares his voice with the Los Angeles region.
by Kevin Garrity
photo by Courtney Droke
At the age of 9, Larry Marino connected a wire from his bedroom window in Pasadena to his next door neighbor’s house. He read the news, shared pictures and discussed current events, trying to connect people through radio airwaves. Thirty years later that now invisible wire has connected Arnold Schwarzenegger, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton.
870-AM KRLA, present day, noon. A humming noise fills the KRLA radio station. The overture music sounds, the red “On Air” sign illuminates, and the baritone voice of the University of La Verne alumnus transports the news, weather and traffic into the cars of the many commuters in the Inland Empire.
Larry Marino graduated from La Verne magna cum laude in 1983 with a degree in Radio Broadcasting and has been working in the industry ever since. A transfer student from Pasadena City College, Marino came to La Verne after hearing about the quality experience he would receive.
“La Verne was very hands on, and it was great being able to work with the equipment,” he says. “I was told how great of an education I would get, and, after going there myself, I saw that firsthand.”
“I was around when the radio station was located under the gym in the big tents. The media building has seen quite an upgrade since then.” Marino was drawn to the radio stations on campus, KULV and KBOB, where he gained experience that further established his love for radio.
KULV, now LEO-FM, is still the running radio station for the University, unlike KBOB, which broadcasted live, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week in the old Supertents media center. The station featured big band music and news, read live by the on-air personality.
“Larry’s skills were at a level where he was able to go on live with no problem,” says Mike Laponis, professor of communications at La Verne and Marino’s radio teacher.
“He used to do the most innovative stories like a five-part week-long aviation series. He went on air and gave his report on things like hot air ballooning and getting a pilot’s license. Now he has to do what he used to do in a week in a day.”
“Mike was pretty much my adviser. I remember coming to him before I graduated to see what was going to happen, if I was going to get a job. And I did,” Larry says.
As soon as he graduated from college, he received a phone call from a Lancaster radio station. The owner wasted no time offering him a job. Since then, Marino has never left the news industry; he has worked in San Bernardino, Texas, Florida and Glendale, Calif., where he is currently stationed.
He was a network anchor in Abilene, Texas, where he reported sidebar stories from the days’ top stories, hosted his own radio show where he interviewed Larry King, and he has guest hosted radio shows for national personalities such as Michael Savage and Laura Ingram.
Whether it is TV or radio, Marino’s career has been highlighted by historic events and interviews with high profile newsmakers. In 1999, Larry picked up his phone to hear “Hey, Larry, it’s George.” The person on the other end of the phone was George W. Bush, who was campaigning for the 2000 presidential election.
This was not the last time Bush would impact Marino’s day. Larry was in Washington, D.C. the day the President decided to invade Iraq. The KRLA network gave him the assignment and told him to report the breaking news and the subsequent protests that erupted in front of the White House.
Larry was able to report live from his cell phone back to the station. The next morning, he was on the program’s morning show from its Washington D.C. base providing the details. “I remember seeing the Capitol building and thinking how quiet the streets were,” he recalls when the protests died down, late in the night.
Once Larry returned to Los Angeles to take a radio job, the University of La Verne invited him to teach a few classes in Radio and TV News Writing. With his access and personal connections, Larry was able to take his students to news sets, such as KTLA, and give his students a first hand experience in the production of a televised news show. “His practiced experience in TV, radio and talk news gave his students a great opportunity,” Laponis says.
One day, Larry walked into one of his classes, one he did not feel had enough hands-on experience, and announced that the lesson plan for the evening was to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Unconvinced mumblings erupted in the class, until Larry took his class to the radio studio to set up the taped interview with the future governor of California, who was promoting a ballot initiative.
“It’s extremely important for the University to show students that there is life after they go to school here,” Laponis says. “And Larry is a great example of that. He was able to come back and express his knowledge of all media markets.”
“I remember being a kid and listening to the radio and feeling connected to the world. I would lie in bed at night, turn on the radio and listen to a talk show. I have always gravitated toward the radio and the way it connects people.”
Larry is now the director of news and public affairs for Salem Los Angeles and provides the news, weather and traffic updates at the top and bottom of every hour for both KRLA and KTIE 590. He also hosts his own weekend public affairs show on the same network.
“In this industry, you never know what’s going to happen next. You never know where you are going that day. It’s a lot of fun doing what I do. And I always know what is going on,” says Marino.
His listeners know the feeling.