In Memoriam: Larry Himmel
NATAS PSW remembers longtime San Diego broadcaster, Larry Himmel. Below is KFMB-TV/CBS News 8’s statement about Himmel’s passing:
Legendary reporter, humorist and consummate broadcaster, Larry Himmel, died last night at home surrounded by family, following his brave battle with cancer. He was 68 years old.
“Larry has been a beloved member of CBS 8 and the KFMB family for more than 35 years. Whether on radio or television, covering news or sports, Larry always brought a unique perspective that revealed his love of San Diego. On behalf of everyone at KFMB, it was a privilege and joy to know him both on and off the air,” said Elisabeth Meyer Kimmel, President/Owner, KFMB Stations.
For decades, Himmel entertained San Diegans with his warmth, wit and humor as CBS News 8’s Feature Reporter. His gifted writing and storytelling ability garnered loyal viewers and his colleagues’ respect as one of the best television feature reporters in the industry. A recipient of nearly a dozen EMMY® awards, Himmel’s CBS News 8 “Neighborhood Reports” are etched in San Diego television history.
Himmel’s talent and versatility were unparalleled. He was the station’s favorite utility player, forecasting the weather, reporting sports and covering the San Diego Chargers on the road for several seasons, all with his incomparable, unique style.
A Chicago native, Himmel’s broadcasting career began at Bradley University’s radio station in Peoria, Illinois, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Speech. In 1969, after a brief stint teaching seventh grade English, he followed his passion straight to the DJ booth at WSIV in Pekin, Illinois, then WJOB in Hammond, Indiana and CJOM-FM in Windsor, Ontario. Seeking fame, fortune and sunny weather, Himmel hit the San Diego airwaves in 1973 as “The Cruiser” on KGB-AM & FM.
In 1979, while working as a standup comic at The Comedy Store in La Jolla, Himmel captured the attention of former KFMB-TV News Director Jim Holtzman, who immediately hired him and launched his legendary television career. In addition to his witty, “Himmel At Large” News 8 commentaries, the pair created San Diego at Large in 1985, the station’s weeknight comedy show starring Himmel and cast of thousands. During its more than three year run, the show featured innovative sketches, news parodies, and San Diego’s beloved “Biff and Skippy.” Later he also worked down the hall on sister radio station, KFMB-FM.
Himmel received national media attention when he reported outside his Rancho Bernardo home as it went up in flames during the devastating 2007 Witch Creek Fire. He made appearances on “Dr. Phil” and “Ellen” where he shared stories about his personal ordeal. He was very involved in helping neighbors rebuild the Rancho Bernardo community after the fire.
One of Himmel’s final projects was producing, writing and hosting a special devoted to KFMB’s 65th Anniversary.
Although he was born and raised in Chicago, Himmel loved San Diego and will be remembered for his dedication and service to numerous community organizations, including: Rady Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Alzheimer’s Association, and Lions, Tigers & Bears. Himmel said that his daily purpose was to make people feel better about this place they call home.
“Larry is truly a legend in every sense of the word. The brilliant storyteller who poured his heart and kind soul into his work for 35 years made us laugh, reflect and occasionally even cry. He had an uncanny ability to connect with everyone. Everyone loved Larry. All of us at CBS News 8 are honored to call him our colleague and friend. We will dearly miss his larger-than-life personality, but remain inspired by his brilliance, kindness and ever present smile,” said Dean Elwood, News Director, KFMB-TV.
He is survived by his wife, Joan; his son, Miles; half brothers, Gerry and Tod; half sister, Dana; and his stepfather, Eddie.
Here’s KFMB’s tribute video.