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He had a storied career in both radio and television as a talk host but he’s considered an innovator on several levels which changed the way many broadcasters would produce talk shows ever after.

Arthur Godfrey ran away from home at 14 and joined the Navy at 17 where he received technical radio training. From 1929 on, he worked on all four major radio networks, sometimes simultaneously. After working as a staff announcer on NBC for four years and unhappy with his salary, he free-lanced his radio services in 1934 and did an early morning show on the CBS network for decades.

Historians attribute his success to his informal, folksy, conversational style during a period when other hosts worked from carefully written scripts. He also pioneered the concept of making fun of the ads he would read and often the products themselves.

To much fanfare, he began two television programs on CBS in 1948: “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” and “Arthur Godfrey and His Friends.” While both were technically variety shows, a large portion of their content was talk. His witty banter and down-to-earth interviews are considered the cornerstones of his achievement both on radio and television.

Though he continued with some success on television into the early 1960s and on radio into the early 1970s, it was his on-air dismissal of singer Julius LaRosa in 1953 that many saw as the beginning of his downfall. It exposed a side of him viewers weren’t aware of and many never forgave him.

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