WAMU 88.5 : The Big Broadcast

Ed Walker, host of The Big Broadcast

Ed Walker has been host of The Big Broadcast since 1990, and his path to radio stardom is inspiring.
Anthony Washington
Ed Walker has been host of The Big Broadcast since 1990, and his path to radio stardom is inspiring.

Ed Walker is the host of WAMU 88.5's longest-running program, The Big Broadcast. The show features a collection of vintage radio programs from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, including Gunsmoke, The Jack Benny Show, The Lone Ranger, Suspense, Fibber McGee and Molly and Superman. The Big Broadcast airs Sunday from 7 until 11 p.m. and has been a weekly feature on WAMU 88.5 since 1964.

As a child, Ed Walker always dreamed of a career in broadcasting. Listening to the radio was always very important to him. While attending American University, Walker was one of the founders of the campus radio station, which was called WAMU AM in 1951 (before the present FM station). While in college, Walker met Willard Scott who became his good friend and radio partner for 20 years, calling themselves "The Joy Boys." The duo began on WOL in 1952 then moved to WRC, the NBC station in Washington, in 1955 and then WWDC in 1972. That lasted for 2 years, at which time they were forced to split up the team because of Willard's television conflict.

Walker has also worked at WPGC, WMAL and WWRC. He worked in television at WJLA from 1975 until 1980, and News Channel 8 in the early 90s. Walker was asked to take over The Big Broadcast in mid December of 1990 when his friend John Hickman became too ill to continue the program. John started the show in 1964, thus making it the longest running program on WAMU 88.5.

Ed has enjoyed his time here at this public radio station because of the freedom granted by the management of the station and the fact that the boundaries of commercial radio don't apply here. With the advent of the internet, the audience is literally worldwide. Doing The Big Broadcast gives Ed the chance to let others of all ages enjoy the kind of radio with which he grew up. For Ed, it's a labor of love. He adds, "Not to mention that the folks at WAMU 88.5 make it fun for me. I have had the pleasure of working in radio and television my whole career in the same market over 50 years. I have loved every minute of it."

In 2009, Ed Walker was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame in the category "Local or Regional - Pioneer."

Video: Behind the Scenes of The Big Broadcast with Ed Walker and Rob Bamberger

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