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FITNESS | Guest Workout / Larry Elder

He Doesn't Just Exercise His Vocal Cords


Understand I have a mouth on me. So when Larry Elder, KABC-AM's (790) controversial talk-show host, got on the phone, you know we were a pair of motormouths. I liked talking with Elder. He is quick but thoughtful and--no surprise here--has definite ideas on fitness. He is fit, by the way. See for yourself: Five minutes of his 3-7 p.m. radio show are simulcast every day at 3:45 p.m. on KCAL (Channel 9).

Question: Well, I already know how your mouth works, how you exercise your mouth.

Answer: Hey, might as well start out with an insult. Boom! Low blow! Low blow! Yeah. Good thing I'm wearing a cup.

Q: But haven't you gotten the impression, Larry, that my mouth's not exactly quiet?

A: Yeah. I love your voice. You sound like Peppermint Patty.

Q: We've got to get to the fitness subject. So. You're a tennis buff.

A: Oh, yeah. I try to play about three to four times a week.

Q: You sound pretty devoted to it, though. Does that go way back?

A: You know what, it doesn't. I just turned 46.

Q: Happy birthday.

A: Thank you. And I started playing when I was 37. I was living in Cleveland at the time and so I didn't play year-round because of the winter. I've only played really seriously, I'd say, for about four or five years.

Q: Any other exercises?

A: Well, I am a killer pingpong player. I mean, I'm a good tennis player--I am an awesome pingpong player, so bring 'em on. And I alternate tennis with weight lifting, an hour three times a week.

Q: Are you a morning person?

A: Yes, definitely. I get up at 6 o'clock, and from that point on I am working on the show. There's a great deal of research that goes into my show and I pride myself on preparation.

Q: You know, I start my day early, too, usually thinking about work. How do you ever get away from work? How do you handle stress?

A: I don't know anybody, any human being, who has responsibilities who doesn't feel stress. The question is, how do you deal with it. I think that's one of the reasons exercise and diet are so important, and getting sleep. I find that my attitude about problems is dramatically different if I've gotten seven hours of sleep versus only five. I just don't get irritable. I'm much more relaxed.

Q: So for you fitness counterbalances thinking about work first thing in the morning.

A: Exactly. I don't know that my job is all that more stressful than others, you know. I'm on the air for four hours a day. I take strong opinions. I take a lot of politically incorrect opinions. I take a lot of heat. And so the job has a great deal of pressure along with it. I want to make sure that I don't say anything factually incorrect. I want to make sure I don't say anything unnecessarily demeaning, and my show, by definition, creates passion and sometimes creates enemies. And more stress.

Q: Do you ever get away from work or do you not want to?

A: Well, I get three weeks' vacation per year although historically I'm not taking it.

Q: That's typical.

A: Yeah, the typical kind of personality that gets into this business is a guy who wants to be on the field. I don't want to be on the bench. I want to be on the field.

Q: Let's talk about your diet.

A: Well, I do not have a particular kind of diet that I follow religiously. As I got older, I began to cut down on the steaks and the cakes and the bacon that I dearly, dearly love. I mean, when I was in my teens and in my 20s, I would have pancakes and a double side of bacon three or four times a week and with milk. Real milk. None of that skim stuff. But I just couldn't do it anymore. So now I sort of treat myself once a week to a big screaming, greasy, fat breakfast of French toast or waffles or pancakes with two, sometimes even three, sides of real thick bacon. Ideally, bacon with the rind on that my mom and dad make for me. That's serious eating.

Q: On the days when you don't have the Teamster breakfast, what would you eat?

A: Morning, I have Special K and I put a lot of raisins in it. I used to like Raisin Bran but they don't put enough raisins in it. And I have yogurt and fresh juice. And then I go and play tennis or work out and when I come back, I have a medium-sized lunch, which usually is chicken and something like cole slaw and a tomato and cranberry juice.

Q: Dinner must be the hardest meal for you to get to with your hours.

A: Dinner is difficult because I'm on the air from 3 o'clock until 7 o'clock. If I eat a big lunch, I feel lethargic on the air. If I don't eat a big-enough lunch, I really get hungry and light-headed between the 5 and 6 o'clock hours.

Q: What do you do about that 5-to-6 slot?

A: What I normally do--this is probably where a lot of people are gonna gag--I will get a sandwich out of the machine at work and some chips and iced tea. I don't usually eat the whole sandwich, just half. The sandwich, by the way, tastes lousy. The goal is to put some fuel inside. Then I get home around 8, and I'm big on these microwave dinners. Sometimes when I visit my parents, I will take food from there.

Q: You mentioned your mom and dad a couple of times. I sense a lot of affection there.

A: I just adore my folks. They've been married for over 50 years.

Q: You're one of the few men I've talked to who has demonstrated affection for their parents.

A: Well, my mother comes on my show every week. We call her the chief justice of the Supreme Court. My mother is a liberal Democrat. I am a Libertarian, and we disagree about politics on the air all the time.

Q: We have to say "hi" to Mom and Dad. Want to give their names?

A: That'd be great. Her name is Viola, and my father's named Randolph.


* Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.

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