Radio (and Chuck Barris) Made Jim Lange & Geoff Edwards Household Names
Originally posted: January 25th, 2014
By Jim Williams
"Good radio is still the most fun. It always will be. You don't have
to worry about lighting directors and cameramen or script writers and
all that. Plus, you don't have to wear makeup and you don't have to
shave." - Jim Lange
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Over the last couple of weeks, the game show world has mourned the loss of two emcees from the genre's better days in Jim Lange and Geoff Edwards. On the surface Jim and Geoff are different types of game show hosts, but their paths to success share a common bond: Radio.
Both men got their respective starts in broadcasting on the AM dial in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Lange, a native of Minnesota, would make a name for himself in San Francisco at KGO and KSFO while Edwards, a New Jersey native, got his first big break at KFMB in San Diego. Both future emcees honed their craft behind the microphone, and, in no short order, would wind up entertaining Southern Californians on heritage radio stations in Los Angeles. During the 1960s and '70s, many Los Angeles based game show producers looked to radio as a talent pool for future emcees.
One such producer, Chuck Barris, almost exclusively chose local radio personalities for his game shows. After spending the early 1960s working for the daytime programming division of ABC, Barris left the network to form his own company, believing that his concepts for game shows were better than the offerings colleagues at the network were pitching. In the summer of 1965, Chuck Barris Productions was formed and shortly thereafter Barris sold his first show to the network he just left. It would be a show that was all about matchmaking and needed a master of ceremonies who could appeal both to the flower power generation and "the greatest generation" alike. Jim Lange was chosen to host "The Dating Game" in December of 1965. And the rest, as they say, is history. With his dignified good looks and congenial demeanor, Lange was the perfect host for "The Dating Game" appealing to viewers both young and old. He knew the contestants were the stars and did his best to stay out of the way while playing traffic cop when necessary. And along the way, Lange made the phrase "And heeeeeeeeeere they are!" and the "Dating Game Kiss" staples in American pop culture. Lange and "The Dating Game" would become part of Americana over the next 15 years.
The success of "The Dating Game" paved the way for other Barris projects that used Los Angeles radio personalities. Some shows like "The Newlywed Game" with Bob Eubanks flourished while others like "The Parent Game" with Clark Race left much to be desired. But even some of Barris' failures would later result in future greatness.
In 1972, Barris produced a pilot for a celebrity-centric game show called "Cop Out!". Barris tapped Geoff Edwards, a firmly established mid-morning man at KMPC, to host the project. The pilot never got off the ground, but Barris saw something great in Edwards. A year later, he made Geoff the host of a revival of the 1950s game show "Treasure Hunt". And again, the rest, as they say, is history. Edwards was the perfect master of ceremonies for "Treasure Hunt" as he had the ability to perfectly balance the extremes of tension and levity while memorizing dozens of skits and having to recall them instantaneously. And who could forget how he helped make bonded security agent Emile Autouri a household name? His comedic skills, honed from his days of creating bits for morning radio in Los Angeles, helped him tremendously while working with Chuck Barris' troupe on "Treasure Hunt".
Throughout their respective successes in the game show industry, both Lange and Edwards kept themselves firmly grounded in radio. Lange spent much of the 1980s at KMPC in Los Angeles before spending the 1990s and early 2000s playing the "music of your life" on stations in and around San Francisco. Edwards remained a morning personality for KMPC and KFI entertaining the Southland with humorous bits including "The Answer Lady".
With the untimely deaths of both Jim Lange and Geoff Edwards, we did not just lose a pair of gifted game show emcees. We lost a pair of gifted professional broadcasters too. I can only imagine that somewhere in heaven they're informing and entertaining countless listeners on that station in the sky.
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